Saying surfing the web is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge has suggested that only a reprimand is appropriate as punishment for a city worker accused of failing to heed warnings to stay off the Internet.
In his decision, Spooner wrote: “It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work.”
He added: “For this reason, city agencies permit workers to use a telephone for personal calls, so long as this does not interfere with their overall work performance. Many agencies apply the same standard to the use of the Internet for personal purposes.”
This is something I’ve been saying for a while in the periodic arguments over whether businesses should try and lock down the Internet to only “approved” sites. Do the same businesses search employees at the door to make sure they don’t bring in newspapers, magazines or mobile phones? Generally not. (If you work for the NSA, your mileage may vary.)
Slacking is a time-honored tradition. If you ban the Internet, people will spend their time talking about last night’s TV, making paper planes, or whatever.
Now, get back to work.