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If Government Shuts Down, Bye-Bye BlackBerry If Government Shuts Down, Bye-Bye BlackBerry

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Congress

If Government Shuts Down, Bye-Bye BlackBerry

February 24, 2011

Nextgov.com reports that if Congress forces the government to shut down, then agencies and employees might have to shut down office Web-based e-mail and power off BlackBerrys, according to federal law.

The so-called Antideficiency Act prohibits agencies from accepting voluntary labor for services that are not essential -- vital to the protection of life and property -- during a shutdown. Federal officials or employees who violate the rules can be fined up to $5,000 or sent to prison for two years. In other words, it's illegal for employees to work and for agencies to allow work to be done.

Read literally, the law presents a conundrum in the 21st century where portable Internet devices, such as smart phones and networked laptops, have erased the boundaries between work and home. Would information technology managers have to block network access to all nonessential employees during the shutdown? Will agencies play Big Brother and use monitoring technology to detect when employees are working remotely?

Unless the Obama administration issues a governmentwide policy, expect agencies to be all over the map in their approaches to enforcing the law, say former federal officials. Click here, to read more.

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