DoD Blocking Access To Techdirt Because It's About 'Computers And Internet'?

from the say-what-now dept

Sent in by an anonymous person in the Defense Department is the notice that they were unable to read our recent story about customs and border patrol harassing Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum as he flew into Seattle from a vacation in Iceland. What struck me, however, was the hilarious wording explaining the block:
This Page Cannot Be Displayed

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Based on DOD access policies, access to this web site ( http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110112/16054412641/customs-hamfisted-attempts-to-intimidate-wikileaks-volunteers.shtml ) has been blocked because the web category "Computers and Internet" is not allowed, your IP address and username have been recorded and forwarded to your IA staff for review.
As the reader notes: "Who'd have thought that "Computers and Internet" would be banned when they give me one, and an Internet connection, to work with?" Nice to see that the DoD is so concerned that DoD workers see what their own government is up to.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Dan (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Famous or Infamous?

    Mike Masnick...Famous or Infamous? Enter your vote now!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    The defense department is huge ...

    Which part of the DOD?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:16pm

    "your IP address and username have been recorded and forwarded to your IA staff for review. " That goes without saying, since pretty much every company and government has this capability. The only reason to make such a claim is to put a little extra fear in the worker bee?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:18pm

    curse those computer and internet addicts doing it at work

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Shadojak (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    Hmmmm

    Lol, I have an idea.....

    2012 is an election year, is it not?

    Since Obama has definitely not done well...let us all spreadthe word, and do a write in campaign.

    "Mike Masnick --- President"

    I am sorry, but there is NO way that Mike could be a Worse President than some we've had, and he seems to be interested in the issues that I AM worried about.

    God only knows what would happen to him under the pressure cooker of Presidential office.

    But we can always hope :D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    someone (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:23pm

    My theory is that

    "Computers and Internet" are used to upload stuff to wikileaks so to prevent future leaks some genius DoD official decided to block "Computers and Internet".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Chris (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:29pm

    Very interesting

    I will have to try this when I get back to work to see if it's DoD wide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    JP, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    The probably blocked you because of the reference to "wikileaks" and they categorized that particular keyword in the"Computers and Internet" category.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Hmmmm

    I don't think any single person can directly go in and change what needs to be changed. Too much pressure can be brought to bear against one person. The changes needs to happen starting from the electorate, for the only way to prevail on these issues is to have support from multiple people in the executive and the legislature.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Re: Hmmmm

    But that would require an electorate capable of focusing their attention on something other than bread and circuses.

    I'm not holding my breath.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Raptor85, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:52pm

    not quite...

    The error message is misleading a little...and not uncommon, our filters seemingly randomly block sites all the time, and unblock later. (some keyword on the site throws it and it gets blocked until the next scan or something...who knows). It's not currently blocked on AFMC systems or else I wouldn't be posting this :)

    On a related hilarious note..Oracle's site (which we use quite a bit) gets blocked from time to time as being "freeware"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:09pm

    Re: not quite...

    "The error message is misleading a little...and not uncommon, our filters seemingly randomly block sites all the time, and unblock later. (some keyword on the site throws it and it gets blocked until the next scan or something...who knows). It's not currently blocked on AFMC systems or else I wouldn't be posting this :)"

    To me it just shows how little such software actually takes the needs of the end user into account. If I was writing software to block websites then 'informing the user why' would be pretty damn high up the list of things to get right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    cc (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    *nix users, or xkcd readers?

    http://xkcd.com/838/

    Perhaps just a case of old-fashioned thought-policing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    Didn't the DoD fund the creation of the Internet? That is some truly bizarre reasoning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    Re:

    The only reason to make such a claim is to put a little extra fear in the worker bee?

    Actually, I believe this is the standard message a particular product the DoD likes using. I've seen it many times myself, and laugh each time (for the record, part of my job description is keeping up-to-date with "Computers and Internet", and that category is kinda stupid to block anyway since you are on a computer and accessing the internet to begin with.) I wouldn't expect much from it. If someone out there is watching my watching TechDirt, then they have more free-time at work than I do...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

    Smells like a websense blockpage to me :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Raptor85, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: not quite...

    Heh, indeed, DOD IT rarely does take the actual needs of it's users into account. This isn't custom software though, it's off the shelf, websense i believe. (I have no ties to the guys who do this, I'm just a contractor who regularly uses DOD systems)

    Whoever submitted this must have been a new hire though, these messages are COMMON, a royal pain and quite often blocking sites that you need to use, but I don't believe I've ever gone a day without seeing that message. Even slashdot has been blocked and unblocked dozens of times over the years. (which makes my breaks quite boring)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    jimbob, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:48pm

    Wikileaks banned

    It may be cause it mentions Wikileaks. My DOD agency has blocked anything that mentions Wikileaks, ANYTHING!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:59pm

    Re: The defense department is huge ...

    The silly one?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Mr. Smarta**, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:06pm

    "We're Sorry..."

    This Page Cannot Be Displayed
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Based on DOD access policies, access to this web site ( http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110112/16054412641/customs-hamfisted-attempts-to-intimidate-wikil eaks-volunteers.shtml ) has been blocked because the website contains the letters 'a', 'e', 'i', 'l', 'k', 's', and 'w' which when re-assembled spells the word 'wikileaks' which is filtered, your IP address and username have been recorded and forwarded to your IA staff for immediate processing and your eventual deportation to Durkastan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: not quite...

    While I like it quite a bit, I don't believe TD exactly falls under things DoD employees generally need to do their jobs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:08pm

    Re:

    The probably blocked you because of the reference to "wikileaks" and they categorized that particular keyword in the"Computers and Internet" category.

    My thought too.

    Mike, maybe change "wikileaks" to "defense-contractors" in the story URLs?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    krenshall, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    The DOD has a right to do this considering that they are, basically, an employer. Considering the actions of Bradley Manning. They are just doing what they have to in order to protect any more government employees or military personnel from leaking any more classified material.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

    I concur, 'wikileaks' probably triggered the filter, not techdirt itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: The defense department is huge ...

    That's like saying "The man over there with the two eyes, the nose, mouth, two ears and the hair".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Ccomp5950 (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    IA stands for Information Assurance.

    Every company in the Army atleast is supposed to have an Information Assurance Security Officer.

    Way it works is each computer on a DoD network has someone that is responsible for it. When I was IASO I was responsible for about 32 computers throughout the battalion.

    Basically we are computer janitors, we insure that the latest windows updates are ran and we're the ones that can reset passwords.

    Within the control panel where we select "Yes we did this" you can receive notices of what computers attempted to access whatever blocked entity, what user was logged in, etc.

    Most IASO's just click the box to make it go away unless it's repeated bullshit (Really, he was up here at 9pm attempting to look at porn for how long?) in which case we usually just talk to the 1st Sergeant and Company Commander and let them take care of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    TPBer, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 7:37pm

    DOD=

    Dumb Or Dumber :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 7:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, this applies to defence related companies as well: the web filters all appear to have a block for any URL containing the word "wikileaks".

    A recent article on Ars Technica ran afoul of this as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Re:

    Part of your job is to keep up with that which they prevent you from keeping up with. They have essentially made you less intelligent than the average Internet user. Great job DoD, I feel so much more secure. Now the terrorists can much more easily hide their activities from you while having more intelligence than you at the same time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    (on the flip side, maybe this can be used to protect average citizens from overarching and invasive government. So in a sense it can make us more secure).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 8:23pm

    Re: DOD=

    TD or not to TD?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    aHungarianGuy, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:01pm

    Small detail

    An important detail was forgotten: this was incident happened on the reader's home internet connection on the weekend.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Small detail

    of course a 'was' was left in, I hope they didn't record my ip address

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Dohn Joe, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:09pm

    Misunderstanding

    In typical sloppy Government firewall speak this just means that a restricted site in the "Computers and Internet" category has been blocked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: The defense department is huge ...

    well, that does eliminate anyone missing an eye, nose, mouth, ear, or hair, yah?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 10:12pm

    Re: Re:

    The impression I got was that there is a blacklist and pages have tags/categories.

    The message probably should have said something like, "you were attempting to access a page that has been flagged and cannot be seen," with the "computers and internet" being an internal organization mechanism not intended to be relayed to the user.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 10:44pm

    Re:

    I recently had a legitimate news website (that I could otherwise access) get blocked by my company's filter, and the only thing I can think is that they scrubbed it because it had the word "wikileaks" in the URL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Dushan, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:23am

    TOR, VPN or proxies. I you use The Internet and The Computer at the *same time*, these 3 things should help you out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Major, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: not quite...

    Well where i work, the filter is quite appropriate and they tend to log user activity : NO facebook, No youtube, No fun.
    Unless...you are one of the IT guy who set the rules and can do it anyway...

    Or you are a dev with admin right and use a data/url crypter and voila : You can spend some time lurking on TD or TED totaly unnoticed !

    Oh ! can non-American vote for Masnick presidency ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 3:43am

    Re:

    Right. Cause if Wikileaks go away there won't ever be any new leaks, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 4:40am

    I wonder if they will be able to access web sites relating to his latest harassment.
    http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/19/wikileaks-volunteer-2.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 4:49am

    no. it is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    iamtheky (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 4:49am

    Seriously, this is not the first post that quite obviously a WebSense word filter.

    And the lack of mentioning so only gives ammo to those who argue that you are taking a fear-mongering slant. I bet if they go here:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110101/21182712478/more-mass-porn-copyright-infringement -lawsuits-get-dumped.shtml

    techdirt gets blocked for 'sexual content', but you would probably have to work a little harder to make it interesting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Paul L, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 5:16am

    No blocks here.....

    I'm currently on a DoD system and I use TechDirt regularly.

    Additionally; I would be the one to impose any blocks such as this at my location if they were to come down from above. I can state emphatically that no such directives have been issued to our command.

    Personally; I think whoever is managing the security at the location where the original report came from is either making up their own rules or their command is directing them to perform this action. They could have also just made a mistake with their filtering.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:11am

    Feel safe yet?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Joe Websense, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:18am

    Impossible!

    Techdirt would be blocked as "Tasteless".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    Re: Very interesting

    Actually it is more than likely the word WikiLeaks in the URL much like the words P2P or Porn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:36am

    Re:

    I don't think he'll listen, lad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    Phillip (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Re: Very interesting

    It's not I can get to it before and i can still get to it now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    Phillip (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Re: Very interesting

    It's not I could get to it before and i can still get to it now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    iamtheky (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 7:16am

    Individual DOIMs get to establish filters based on local traffic, so saying "all of DoD is blocked" is most always hyperbole (lest we are discussing the common vices).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: not quite...

    "This isn't custom software though, it's off the shelf, websense i believe."

    I kinda guessed that as soon as I saw the error message. It's pretty common in schools, libraries etc. over here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    "And the lack of mentioning so only gives ammo to those who argue that you are taking a fear-mongering slant. I bet if they go here:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110101/21182712478/more-mass-porn-copyright-infringement -lawsuits-get-dumped.shtml

    techdirt gets blocked for 'sexual content', but you would probably have to work a little harder to make it interesting."


    So, it's OK because they use the same level of sophistication for their filters as the average primary school?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Part of your job is to keep up with that which they prevent you from keeping up with.

    Certainly didn't say that, as it isn't true for me (I can access all of Techdirt with no problem what-so-ever.) However, I can only hang my head at what others within DoD/Government are doing. I believe that Sun Tsu said it best that in order to fight an enemy, you have to know the enemy. Anyone within DoD's computer security groups have to have full access to everything their enemies have, otherwise they cannot do their job effectively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    iamtheky (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    "So, it's OK because they use the same level of sophistication for their filters as the average primary school?"

    No, its just not malicious, nor is it DoD wide. I was merely pointing out the hype, not defending.

    -also pointing out that this is like the 3rd WebSense related post, in hopes that the glaringly obvious is at least considered before posting, as it feels really dirty trying to find some wider conspiracy or use this as a defense for any stance at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re:

    yes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    Here's what I get at work (non-DOD) for any access to Techdirt.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110113/16560912662/dod-blocking-access-to-techdirt-b ecause-its-about-computers-internet.shtml has been categorized as Anonymous Proxy & Hacking. It has been blocked per your organization's Internet Usage Policy for group Public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Cipher-0, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: not quite...

    Oh ! can non-American vote for Masnick presidency ?

    Sure, use a Diebold voting machine. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This