An accredited Canadian parliamentary news site, Blacklock’s Reporter, was banned from being accessed by public employees from August 22, 2014 until Sept. 9, 2014. Blacklock’s Reporter obtained documents under the Access to Information Act confirming a government-wide blackout was enforced by Shared Services Canada, the department in charge of government IT services.
This ban came at an interesting time, since the Blacklock’s Reporter took Finance Canada to court in July 2014 for alleged copyright infringement. The ban is reported to have been in force until Blacklock’s Reporter filed an Access to Information request with Shared Services on Sept. 9.
The government blocks websites under thePolicy on Acceptable Network and Device Use, created to ensure employees don’t access propaganda, hate and other unacceptable site. Citing the same policy, critics of the ban said the government was undermining the right of civil servants to access news and information.
Blacklock's publisher Holly Doan called out Service Canada’s choice to block the website without giving a fair reason. A Shared Services Canada spokesperson said the Reporter represented a "potential threat to Government of Canada." The Canadian Association of Journalists also released a statement that called for a more detailed explanation for why the website was banned.
Documents revealed that Shared Services blocks several websites, but the sites were not identified, including how many are accredited news agencies. This ban comes at a time when governments are looking to censor and control the media on the Internet. The fact that governments are trying to find a way to censor journalism needs to be covered.
References: Fiallos, Francella. "Feds Ban News Website on Public Employees' Computers." Rabble.ca. January 14, 2015. Accessed February 17, 2015. http://rabble.ca/news/2015/01/feds-ban-news-website-on-public-employees-computers.
Staff. "Blacklock's Reporter." Blacklocks Reporter. January 5, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2015. http://www.blacklocks.ca/feds-run-news-blacklist-ban-employee-access-to-website/.
Canadian Association of Journalists. "CAJ Opposes Government-imposed Ban on Blacklock’s Reporter." The Canadian Association of Journalists. January 6, 2015. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://www.caj.ca/caj-opposes-government-imposed-ban-on-blacklocks-reporter/.
Government of Canada."Policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use." Government of Canada, Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat. Accessed February 19, 2015. http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=27122.
Student Researcher: Britton Gray (University of Regina School of Journalism)
Faculty Evaluator: Patricia Elliot (University of Regina School of Journalism)