A union representing federal employees tells the Washington Post that the Justice
Department appears to be monitoring employee e-mail traffic for naughty words.
An automated device known as the "MailMarshal" blocks messages from
department employees when it spots "unacceptable language, or inappropriate
material," AFSCME Local 2830 President Stu Smith told the newspaper. How
does he know this? Because two employees recently got messages from the "net
nanny," telling them: "Please clean-up or re-phrase the message and
send it again."
Smith said he has asked officials what this was all about. "Is it for
disciplinary purposes?" he asked. "We don't know." But it seems
clear this is "not for security," he said. He added that he also has
asked for a list of the "bad" words but has not received an answer.
The Post notes that the Justice Department "is known to be sensitive to
matters of taste and morality," recalling that Attorney General John D.
Ashcroft spent $8,000 for a giant curtain so visitors would be protected from
the sight of a statue of a woman with one bare breast.