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TSA Reconsiders Computer Blocking Policy; Porn Still Allowed

TSA Reconsiders Computer Blocking Policy; Porn Still Allowed

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued guidelines regarding “Internet Site Blocking” for employee computers that announced that, starting July 1, sites that contain content in the following categories would be blocked:

* Chat/Messaging

* Controversial opinion

* Criminal activity

* Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content

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* Gaming

Almost immediately, comments regarding the various categories began flowing around cyberspace, questioning the meaning or purpose of “controversial opinion” and also wondering why pornography was not on the list of prohibited and blocked sites.

My own guess was that porn was not included because TSA employees, who man the security barriers at airports and also operate the body-screening machines now being tested and used on the public at various airports, need to be well-informed about the human body, and what better place to receive that education than porn?

Because, as we all know (or should know), pornography is no longer an industry where only the idealized bodies are worshipped, but it has in fact become the world’s greatest exhibitor of real bodies, both male and female. And I’m not just talking about Ron Jeremy, whose gut is now synonymous with sexy. I’m taking about a vast array of performers large and small, tall and short, full-breasted and flat, ugly and pretty, who all have their place under the great umbrella that is modern-day porn.

So what better Petri dish than porn with which to educate the masses of minimum-wage TSA employees who will be tasked with scanning us for … well, God knows what?

Or, they could have just overlooked porn, and it too will be blocked within the month. As to the brewing controversy over “controversial opinions,” Wednesday the TSA dialed back on that one and said that it would no longer be a prohibited category.

"After further review, TSA determined this category may contain some sites that do not violate TSA's policy and therefore has concluded that the category is no longer being considered for implementation," an email to employees from TSA said. "Our intent is not, and never has been, to limit your ability to access or share 'controversial opinions.'" 

In an attempt to be both transparent and hip, the TSA also has a blog, which contains a Wednesday post about the “controversial opinions” hoo-haw. In reversing the previous decision, however, the writer, Blogger Bob, appears to be a tad defensive as to TSA’s position regarding free speech.

“TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization,” the post concludes. “Take a look at the comments on this blog and you'll clearly see that we allow critical commentary. This isn't a case of TSA blocking controversial opinions. Our intent is not, and never has been, to limit our employees' ability to access controversial opinions.”

(Note to Blogger Bob: Thou dost protest too much. The less said the better.)






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Tom Hymes

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