Orange Order website ban lifted
CIVIL servants were banned from accessing the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland website on their office computers under an automatic web security system although at least one Department has now taken action to allow workers access.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said action has now been taken to allow workers in his Department access to the Orange Order website.
He said the automatic block had been applied under a web security solution called Websense.
“In the interests of protecting Departments against misuse of the internet, IT Assist, who provide IT services for the NICS, use a web security solution called Websense that automatically blocks certain categories of internet sites,” he stated.
“Websense as a private organisation own and retain the software and associated rights of their web security solution, and the NICS, through IT Assist, simply purchase the use of this facility.
The Websense categorisation setting had placed the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland website in a blocked category for all NICS Departments, and therefore blocked those using the IT Assist network to access the site,” he explained.
Despite the block approximately 85 per cent of DSD staff were able to access the internal intranet through the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) network.
Thus, access to the Grand Lodge of Ireland website was not blocked to these staff.
“Certain Departmental officials who avail of the internet via IT Assist required access to this particular site as part of their normal duties and individual permission for these staff was granted under a bespoke rule,” he stated.
“Websense recently recategorised the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland website; however, a bespoke rule which allowed access to approved staff had already been applied.
“The Websense recategorisation did not remove the block for some NICS Departments because of a technical error, as they, including DSD, had already applied the bespoke rule to allow access to certain departmental officials.
“The Department has now taken action to rectify this technical error, and all staff have access to the Grand Lodge of Ireland website in the same way as they have access to other unblocked websites,” he concluded.
Last year a ban of the website in local schools sparked controversy.
Pupils trying to access the Orange Order site under a C2K school computer system were told: “Access to this webpage has been denied”
The reason given by the network was: “This website has been categorised as Non-Traditional Religious and Occult and Folklore.”
C2K provides the infrastructure and services to support Information Computer Technology in schools.
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