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New CBC web rules hurts journalists: CMG

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TORONTO - The CBC's "effort to 'protect' employees hinders their work," says the Canadian Media Guild.

A few weeks ago the CBC began using software which blocks Internet access to certain sites which have been deemed "offensive", says a Guild press release.

The Corporation says that it bought the blocking software, called Websense, to protect its networks and to limit its liability due to so-called "inappropriate" employee use of offensive web sites.

The Corporation's original announcement about Websense stated that the goal of implementing the software was "to restrict access to offensive sites such as those containing illegal, pornographic or racist material and those that promote hatred or violence", according to CMG.

"It's difficult to dispute the merit of this intent. What Guild members are discovering, though, is that the software is so sensitive that it is making it difficult for them to do their job, particularly if their work requires them to do online research in any of the areas deemed offensive by Websense, which include dating sites, online gambling or file-sharing," says the release.

"An attempted work-around allows employees to get permission from their supervisor to access sites, but the approval process is cumbersome. In the end, it appears that the "protection" afforded to CBC employees is far outweighed by the significant cost of the software, and the fact that our members are unable to access the information that they sometimes need to do their work."

The Guild has been in contact with senior management, as well as CBC's industrial relations department, and a meeting is being scheduled soon to discuss the issue and find solutions, it concluded.
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