Microsoft's 'Threat Management Gateway' Blocks Free Software Foundation Donation Page As 'Gambling'

from the well,-for-microsoft-maybe dept

Via Slashdot, we learn that Microsoft's "Threat Management Gateway" (which some companies apparently use to protect against malicious websites) has classified the website for donations to the Free Software Foundation as "gambling," meaning that it's blocked for many users. This was first discovered by a user on Reddit who received the following notice:
The page you are trying to browse to is categorized as "Gambling"

If you believe you are getting this message by mistake, try contacting your administrator or Helpdesk.

Technical Information (for support personnel)

Error Code: 403 Forbidden. Forefront TMG denied the specified Uniform Resource Locator (URL). (12233)
IP Address: [IP Redacted]
Date: 6/14/2012 6:31:39 PM [GMT]
Server: [server name redacted]
Source: proxy
You can confirm this at Microsoft's site if you type donate.fsf.org in the box. Currently, it shows the following:

What's amazing is the regular FSF page just shows "Technical Information" and "Shareware/Freeware." So it seems that the "Gambling" designation was just added to the donate page. Amazingly, the Reddit user noticed this nearly two weeks ago, and as I type this it's still showing up classified as gambling, though FSF has put in a request to change it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    xenomancer (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 2:34am

    Give Them Credit

    Donating to FSF is a bit of a gamble; the same way:
    buying Windows 8 will be a gamble,
    or driving to work in the morning,
    or breathing air inside a bathroom,
    or making a call on AT&T's network,
    or sipping a coffee from McDonalds,
    or ...

    Seriously? Gambling? WTF?

     

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    •  
      icon
      xenomancer (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 2:37am

      Re: Give Them Credit

      In retrospect, I suppose the whole spending money to support something given away freely has Microsoft's algorithm crying in a corner.

       

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      •  
        icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re: Give Them Credit

        In retrospect, I suppose the whole spending money to support something given away freely has Microsoft's algorithm crying in a corner.

        So what you're saying is Microsoft is gambling on people not realizing that the reason they are blocking donate.fsf.org is because they suck at CTF:RTB and hope that nobody will catch them?

        I suspect you are right, given their previous actions in the anti-trust front.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 3:08pm

      Re: Give Them Credit

      Well, yeah, if you donate your money to them that money could go into making the software better or it may not. Tomorrow open source might (continue to) be very useful or it could flop. Maybe it might discontinue. It's a gamble.

       

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  •  
    icon
    justok (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 3:28am

    Stop with the Algorithmorphisms.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 3:58am

    i didn't think there were ever false accusations or recognitions by anyone/any company on the internet and in the 'almost never happens' scenario, i thought corrections were 'almost instantaneous', not purposefully delayed, which this example seems to be. why block the FSF in the first place but no other similar site? i wonder what Microsoft could possibly be afraid of?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:13am

    When has that system ever gotten a classification right? I have seen perfectly innocent websites blocked as pornography. I have seen websites that has nothing to do with gaming blocked as gaming. I have seen news websites blocked as gambling. This is just another example of the system classifying a site incorrectly.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:21am

    This is why closed-sourced security isn't

    (security, that is.) As the FSF astutely observes, "If you need to provide evidence to someone else to illustrate why using such software is a bad idea, feel free to use us as an example. If your workplace uses the software currently, please point to this post and ask them to drop it. Proprietary security software is an oxymoron -- if the user is not fundamentally in control of the software, the user has no security."

    Given that we are now presented with an obvious and egregious false positive error, there is no reason to think that equally obvious and egregious false negative errors also exist. Since the source code isn't available for public inspection, there's no way to know how many or how persistent they are.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:46am

    Wait. I haven't used a pc in decades. Are you saying that Microsoft screens/filters what website a user can go to now? Wow. Why do people put up with that?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      abc gum, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:56am

      Re:

      Attn: from the summary->
      "which some companies apparently use to protect against malicious websites"

      I realize some do not read the links, but to not read the summary?

       

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    •  
      icon
      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 5:03am

      Re:

      No. It is not Windows that is doing this. It is a piece of network security software that many companies use to prevent their public facing network users from navigating to potentially dangerous or unsavory websites.

      http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/forefront/threat-management-gateway.aspx

      As a windows users, you don't have to have this. However, since it is falsely flagging websites, it seems that it is practically useless for real use.

       

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    •  
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      PaulT (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 5:06am

      Re:

      It's a separate product for Windows, which is used by some companies to filter which websites their users can visit, among other things. It's intended for a corporate environment, so presumably those companies affected are getting what they asked for.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 5:12am

      Re:

      "I haven't used a pc in decades."

      You haven't used a PC* (Personal Computer) since (at least) 1992? How did you survive this long?


      * I swear, if you say that you have/had a Macintosh, I'll stab you**. Many times!

      ** Not really, but I'm just tired of he old "Mac isn't a PC" thing.

       

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      •  
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        The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:52am

        Re: Re:

        A Mac isn't a Personal Computer. Jobs got very angry at people calling his toys "computers". Remember that reporter that dared call the iPhone a "computer"? He sleeps with the fishes now.

         

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      •  
        icon
        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 7:50am

        Re: Re:

        Blame IBM. They're the ones who co-opted "PC" for their own personal computer.

         

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        •  
          icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is entirely true, and means that no one at all has used a PC in roughly a decade. Overall, very few people ever had done in the first place.

          We used to call these PC clones. Then again, most people seem to think PC = Windows, somehow.

           

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  •  
    icon
    technomage (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:54am

    According to Microshaft's Category Definition page, "Gambling : Gambling Web sites are sites where a user can place a bet or participate in a betting pool (including lotteries) online; obtain information, assistance or recommendations for placing a bet; receive instructions, assistance or training on participating in games of chance. "

    It's obvious Microshaft believes FSF's own definition, "The FSF advocates for free software ideals as outlined in the Free Software Definition, works for adoption of free software and free media formats, and organizes activist campaigns against threats to user freedom like Windows 7, Apple's iPhone and OS X, DRM on music, ebooks and movies, and software patents." is a gamble.

    As we've seen in the past, activism can sometimes hurt as much as it helps, but it does do what it is supposed to do, get the message to the general public, so in this case, it is a "powerball lottery". Too bad Microshaft stopped at the word "power" and forgot the rest for themselves, while classifying everyone else as a lottery.

    /end slightly sarcastic rant

     

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  •  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:55am

    I love the symbols next to the three categories. Gambling gets a warning/attention symbol, Tech Info gets a Green Tick...but a site that does shareware/freeware? OH NOES, it gets a nice big red X.
    Of course Microsoft are completely biased in this regard, given that their flagship product, Windows, insn't freeware.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      Nothing the FSF does is "freeware" either. It is "Free Software". Not "freeware", not "open source", and definitely not "shareware". Microsoft really dropped the ball on this one.

       

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    •  
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      BentFranklin (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:01am

      Right! This is the real insult and the greater threat to freedom.

       

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      •  
        icon
        BentFranklin (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:55am

        Re:

        In fact, the mere idea that free software is a security threat is topsy-turvy. In general, proprietary software is more vulnerable. That Microsoft would lump FSF in with Pirate Bay is outrageous. How does their threat management system label C|Net or download.com?

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 7:19am

      Re:

      Yes, but what people are failing to realize is that it is just a category. The program doesn't block the 'shareware/freeware' category unless the box next to that category is checked. Let's not let facts get in the way of a good anti-Microsoft rant though.

       

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      •  
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        Rikuo (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re:

        I know it doesn't block unless the box is checked, but it does reveal the mentality of those who design the software: that they view freeware sites as a greater danger than gambling sites.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          JP, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 9:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There are multitudes of cases where Shareware / freeware have been infected with viruses or trojans. This normally happens on the less savory sites, but unwanted junk has even crept into CNet or Tucows downloads from time to time too.... Therefore, with a category that broad, I'm certainly not opposed to a "downloader beware" warning.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 11:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That said, FSF is not involved in freeware/shareware. Not just offering random binary blobs and making sure that software is easily and regularly inspected for security issues is such a big tenet of the FSF, that it's pretty hard to sensibly put them in such a category.

             

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  •  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:17am

    The party line

    This is just one Microsoft product sticking to the party line.

    Microsoft has been claiming for years that using open source software, such as Linux, is a gamble - a gamble of being sued for patent infringement. And Microsoft should know - they're the ones that claim (although will never show evidence) that they have (ridiculously over-broad) patents (on obvious ideas).

    So of course they're labeling FSF's website as falling into the gambling category.

     

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  •  
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    ahow628 (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:45am

    Big gamble

    Sounds like MS has some major plans for the FSF if giving money to them is a gamble right now.

     

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    •  
      icon
      fogbugzd (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 7:02am

      Re: Big gamble

      Are you using a smartphone by chance? I found that it is really easy to double (or in this case triple) submit from a phone if you are not careful. I now have a habit of actually closing that browser window after posting so that I don't accidentally back onto the page and resubmit it.

       

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  •  
    icon
    ahow628 (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    Big gamble

    Sounds like MS has some major plans for the FSF if giving money to them is a gamble right now.

     

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  •  
    icon
    ahow628 (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    Big gamble

    Sounds like MS has some major plans for the FSF if giving money to them is a gamble right now.

     

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  •  
    icon
    ahow628 (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 6:48am

    Big gamble

    Sounds like MS has some major plans for the FSF if giving money to them is a gamble right now.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Non-Story

    FSF's provider is TowardEx (http://twdx.net) who happens to host several online gambling websites (such as http://www.poker-tester.com/).

    So this is almost certainly an accident. As clumsy as MS is in some regards, even Ballmer isn't stupid enough to purposely block the FSF.

    Of course, the FSF has a massive anti-Microsoft bent (not entirely unjustified after all) that is keeping them from seeing the obvious, and everyone else is raging about it for the sake of rage...

     

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    gab4moi (profile), Jun 25th, 2012 @ 4:50pm

    Thats weird, I typed in 'ballmer' and it came up with 'rambling'...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Asshole, Jun 25th, 2012 @ 5:30pm

    But that's wrong, you retard

    Microsoft doesn't come up with the entirety of the website categories for Forefront TMG - they're an aggregation from several major providers and weighs the results.

    Hanlon's razor, anyone?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Coyne Tibbets, Jul 17th, 2012 @ 8:15pm

    Awww...It's Fixed

    Currently shows only "Technical Information"; both the freeware/shareware and gambling categories are gone. 11:15 EDT

     

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  •  
    identicon
    marvin martian, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    donating to free software foundation is not gambling

    free software foundation wants to give people back their freedoms on their technologies and it is a charity too FSF is a nice little website that microsoft apple should go to hell for thinking bad of FSF

     

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