Officials banned from surfing net @ work

A deputy plays a computer game at the Russian Federation Council's session.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
A Russian regional government has blocked access to news sites and social networks in its offices after discovering its civil servants were “hanging out” on the web instead of working.

“Access to regional news websites has been limited to almost all the employees of the government,” said Aleksandr Torba, deputy chairman of government in Russia’s westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad. The new restrictions, though, do not refer to the press-service and officials whose duty is to monitor news, he added.

The authors of the initiative believe that it will help to boost the quality and efficiency of the government’s work as the public servants reportedly spend up to 20 per cent of their office hours hanging out on the web.

Earlier, access to social networking services was blocked in the Kaliningrad regional government building.

“We immediately noticed a positive result of the decision,” Torba pointed out. Therefore, he said, a ban on using news portals has become another step on the way to improve officials’ work.

The politician observed that it was an uneasy decision to make, since web media outlets may take the move as an attempt by the leadership to limit rights of the employees.

However, Torba added, civil servants are free to use the internet at home, spending their own money, and get any kind of information they are interested in.