Email content ‘banned’

Some Cayman Islands government workers were left wondering what was happening last week when they received emails which had some or all of their content blocked.

The emails had the following message included on the text of the page: ‘BANNED CONTENT ALERT.’ The message was in all capital letters, in large-font type.

In some cases, email users could still receive messages or attachments on the emails, in other cases they could not.

The messages alerting users to the ‘banned’ content stated the following: ‘A banned word or phrase was discovered. The file has been removed. See your system administrator for further information.’ There was also notation made of what email content rule had apparently been violated and the ‘severity’ of the violation.

Computer Services Director Gilbert McLaughlin was asked on Wednesday about the banned content messages. He said Government Information Services had been contacted and was preparing a press release to address the situation.

Chief Information Officer Angela Piercy on Wednesday said she was unaware of the situation, and would seek a response. On Friday, she said a release was being prepared and that computer system administrators had stopped issuing the banned content messages.

By press time Monday, the Caymanian Compass had received no response about the banned content messages. An email from a GIS staffer Monday morning stated the agency hoped to have a response on the issue later today.

Spam filters are used on many computer systems in the Cayman Islands which alert email users to messages that may have inappropriate content or that might contain unsolicited advertisements. The government system has previously used such filters, though some civil servants said those filters had never prevented them from receiving messages.

Several messages that fell under the ‘banned content alert’ category last week included:

*An email sent from the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee media representative, which contained pictures of Olympic swimmer Brett Fraser during one of his events.

*A message from a couple about to leave the Cayman Islands who were seeking someone who might be interested in adopting their dogs. They were unable to take the animals home with them.

*An email that made reference to Wednesday as ‘Hump Day,’ which the filter apparently interpreted as profanity.

Members of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association said last week that they had also asked for an explanation from computer services regarding the emails.