Ignorance of the law is no excuse

As some of our astute readers may know, the provincial government maintains an online phone and email directory for its employees. But how many of you have ever taken a look at it's terms of use? Not many huh. Well, one of our readers did. And what he discovered may surprise you. According to that document, the information included in the directory cannot be used for "unsolicited commercial purposes, distributing junk mail" and...wait for it..."lobbying." So how, pray tell, are government relations professionals supposed to communicate with the Campbell administration? Perhaps they should start dailing random numbers! Or better yet, just shell out the money to attend a Liberalfundraiser! The following is a complete copy of the directory's terms of use.

Terms of Use

Program and employee listings in this directory are provided for the purpose of enabling communication with individual provincial government programs and employees. Directory information may only be used for communication related to government business. Persons violating the Terms of Use may be denied access to this directory and/or may have their communications blocked without notice.

Examples of inappropriate use of directory listing information are unsolicited commercial purposes, distributing junk mail or "spam", or lobbying. Using the information contained in this directory for these or similar activities is not permitted.

In addition, those accessing this directory to use government e-mail addresses must follow generally accepted rules of conduct by users of the Internet. Furthermore, government e-mail addresses must not be used in a manner that jeopardizes the security or operation of the government's computer network or any associated systems. Incoming e-mails with large attachments or addressed to a large number of recipients may be blocked without notice.

Users should also take note of the copyright and disclaimer notices associated with this directory.


Perhaps the prohibition on 'lobbying' is only meant to apply to lobbying low-level employees, as opposed to ministers...

Most of these terms of use policies are put together with little real thought. The operative thinking is a kind of silly-bugger moralizing approach. If the activity is thought by some people to have a bad smell in certain quarters, just say we don't allow that, and then worry about practical implications some other time.

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