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Oklahoma state employees' Facebook visits prompt officials concern

by Randy Ellis Modified: December 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: December 1, 2013

“It really needs to be addressed by policy,” he said.

Preston Doerflinger, director of the agency that oversees the state Cyber Command Security Operations Center, is on it.

Doerflinger is in the process of implementing a policy that blocks employees of his agency, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, from visiting Facebook on their state computers unless they can show their positions have a legitimate need to be allowed access to the site, said John Estus, spokesman for the agency.

Other agency heads will be provided with information about their employees' use of social media sites and can implement their own policies, he said.

“It's somewhat misleading to see how many people are on Facebook because Facebook is where the world lives and breathes today and there are legitimate uses of Facebook in a state employee's job,” Estus said. “They communicate with the public on it. They communicate with the public on Twitter and YouTube. So we don't want to take away our agencies' tools for legitimate purposes.”

“We're not trying to use this tool to be a net nanny for all agencies. We're not trying to tell the teacher on everybody. We're just going to give them the information we gleaned from the system and let them make decisions for each agency.”

Blocking state employees' access to social media sites is not particularly difficult.

The state already blocks employees' access to certain categories of sites, including sites dealing with pornography, gambling, firearms, hate, racism and alcohol, Estus said.

Exemptions are granted when needed. For example, state Lottery Commission employees would have a need to visit gaming sites, he said.

The Security Operations Center does not do things like read people's emails or monitor telephone calls, officials said.

Derby, Turner and Holt were among state lawmakers given tours of the state Cyber Command Security Operations Center earlier this year and all said they came away impressed.

“It's state of the art,” Derby said.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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