Web Content Filtering: Dont Go There
Seven tools that help businesses stop their employees from visiting inappropriate sites.Web filtering is possibly the most controversial category of products we review here at PC magazine. No other topic so quickly suggests thoughts of an Orwellian Big Brother or so starkly divides employees and managers. You may consider blocking and monitoring Web access appropriate for children at home or school, but does it have any place at work? Many companies point to legal liability, productivity, and bandwidth usage as concerns that arise when employees view inappropriate (read: porn) Web sites, shop online incessantly before the holidays, or download and play MP3 files throughout the day. Sexual harassment lawsuits do occur, and it would be hard to argue that someone repeatedly bidding on eBay is being as productive as possible. If Britney Spears is coming through loud and clear but the monthly sales close is bogged down, youve got a problem.
There are, however, two sides to this coin. "There havent been that many lawsuits, productivity is up overall, and bandwidth is cheap," says Bill Gassman, principal analyst at market research firm Gartner. And many employees wonder whether Web filtering is like taking away pens to prevent idle doodling. Cant you get rid of the offenders some other way and leave us productive employees alone? Privacy and trust issues come up, and though companies do have the right to monitor employees, most are reluctant to enforce procedures that tell their employees "we dont trust you." Like spying on your spouse, these policies can quickly lead to distrust on all sides.