Morality Tale

Canadian tax collectors have time, and tunes, on their hands

January 10, 2006

1 Min Read
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5:50 PM -- For those of us here in northern North America, paying taxes is no joke. So it's likely no one's laughing at the storage-copping antics of employees at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as reported in today's Vancouver Sun.

The paper says seven CRA employees in British Columbia ate up 5 Gbytes of storage on the government network with hundreds of MP3 music files pirated from the Web. Using Canada's freedom of information act, reporters got hold of an internal report that reveals one employee alone had saved over 733 songs on his workstation.

"A search of that employee's computer also found evidence he had been playing the online games Starcraft and Terran while at work," the paper states. The CRA won't say whether it took action.

This story is simple, but like a Zen koan, it's multilayered. On the surface, it's a cautionary tale about the need for unstructured data management. (Expect suppliers to gleefully cite it chapter and verse.) But on a more basic -- and more disturbing level -- it speaks to the kind of moral relativity that can unravel any organization, anywhere. Here's proof, if you need it, that we can't point fingers only at fat cats like Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers.

For this kind of problem, storage solutions are just a band-aid.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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