Firms cut workers’ Web access

JoongAng Daily. June 5, 2004
By Wohn Dong-hee

These days, office workers use the Internet at their own risk.
Many companies that suspect their employees are spending too much time on the Web for pleasure are moving to restrict access to certain Web sites, including community sites and online messaging services. They say visiting such sites disrupts employees’ concentration on work.

Such companies as CJ Media, Samsung and KT are hurrying to create firewalls security schemes that prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to a computer network or the Internet. This prevents workers from logging onto designated sites.

Although companies have been using firewalls for a long time, especially to block access to pornographic or gambling sites, these new plugs are raising controversy over the boundaries of what is “harmful” on the Internet.

“These days, online connections through blogs or messaging services are important in real-life relationships,” said Kim Jung-hwa, a telecommunications company employee. “It is also ridiculous that a company decides on its own which sites we shouldn’t go to. There are no standards.”

Cyworld is one of the main community sites being blocked these days. The site lets members create a personal Web site and links to friends. Especially with the growing use of digital cameras in Korea, taking photographs and posting them on the Internet has become extremely popular.

As for messaging services, 84.4 percent of 822 office workers replied that they use online messaging during work hours, according to survey results released last week by Korea Recruit, a job placement agency.
“We are taking reasonable measures. Community sites and chatting may not be harmful, but they are definitely unrelated to work,” said Kim Hyo-young, a public relations official at Hyundai Motor.
Workers, however, disagree. “Most conversation in the office is now done through messaging. Also, most people go to the sites in their spare time. It hasn’t reduced my productivity,” said a worker at NHN, an Internet portal company where MSN was banned temporarily last month.
“To become friendly with junior coworkers, it is easier to communicate through messaging,” said Lee Sung-hoon, a PR agency director. “Instead of forbidding employees from going to such sites, companies should use those sites to increase interactivity among workers and with clients.”


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