How many hours each week do Ontario civil servants spend watching pornography, Grey’s Anatomy or last night’s sports highlights on their office computers?
The provincial government says it’s none of your business.
Through its lawyers, the government has spent the better part of a year arguing that taxpayers have no right to know how much time civil servants spend on social media sites like MySpace, sports and entertainment websites or trying to access websites that show porn or promote “Racism and Hate” or “Drugs.”
The government’s IT department monitors the Internet surfing habits of the province’s 60,000 bureaucrats and political staffers and issues monthly reports on the investigations carried out when they discover illicit use.
The Toronto Star sought to conduct an investigation, requested the government’s investigation reports, dubbed Information Protection Centre Monthly Reports, in March.
The Ministry of Government Services, currently led by Minister Harinder Takhar, denied the request. An appeal to the Information and Privacy Commissioner led to an unsuccessful mediation attempt.
The matter is now before an adjudicator with the IPC, an independent provincial body which hears disputes between requesters and government departments over the release of government-held records.