STOP PRESS: I have just been alerted to the following written question, tabled by Francis Maude, Conservative party chairman and MP for Horsham, in the House of Commons:
"To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 12 January 2010, Official Report, column 861W, on departmental computers, for what reason websites featuring tobacco content are banned; if he will give examples of the types of tobacco sites which are banned; and whether the internet ban includes the Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) website."
To be honest, I'm not familiar with "the Answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 12 January 2010, Official Report, column 861W" but I will endeavour to find out.
Watch this space.
OK, it's all a little clearer. Last month Grant Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield, tabled the following written question:
"To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which websites his Department's staff are blocked from accessing on departmental networked computers."
The written answer (by Siôn Simon, minister for Creative Industries at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) was published by Hansard on 12 January 2010. It reads:
"My Department uses SmartFilter to block access to web sites which are deemed unsuitable. The following categories of sites are blocked.
Two sites blocked that do not fall into these categories are:
My Department blocks certain sites based on central guidance about potential threats, as is standard practice on security matters we do not publish this list."
It will be fascinating, I think you'll agree, to see whether the Forest website is "deemed unsuitable" because of the link with tobacco.
I can't wait to find out.
PS. Does anyone know what "Anonymizers" are?
Mr A (see comments) highlights what I agree is the rather more interesting fact that "Tobacco" is listed alongside "Violence" and (he could have added) "Pornography" and "Criminal Activities". Meanwhile, if the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is going to block "Cartoon Violence", will they include THIS anti-smoking animation which I highlighted a couple of weeks ago?