Air Canada Blocks Access To Any Google Hosted RSS Feed (Including Techdirt) For No Good Reason

from the you-had-one-job... dept

Friend (and frequent Techdirt contributor) Derek Kerton passed along a screenshot of his own recent experience trying to follow a Techdirt link at the Toronto airport and having it blocked:
The block here is clearly not directed at Techdirt, but rather at Google's Feedproxy service -- which was formerly Feedburner, a company Google bought years ago. Many, many, many sites that have RSS feeds use Google's service as it makes it much easier to manage your RSS feed and to do some basic analytics on it.

In this case, it appears that Air Canada has (for reasons unknown) wasted good money on a company called "Datavalet" which offers "Guest Access Management" for companies who offer WiFi access to customers. Datavalet proudly highlights Air Canada and famed Canadian donut chain Tim Hortons among its customers.

And yet, despite its sole business apparently being building systems to let people access the internet, Datavalet's tech geniuses can't figure out that Google's RSS feed service is not, in fact, an "Anonymizer" but merely a system for hosting RSS feeds.

These sorts of stupid false positives are not at all uncommon in the filtering business -- and Datavalet is not alone in stupidly filtering out and blocking access to things it should totally allow. This story just demonstrates, once again, the ultimate stupidity and futility of trying to block internet access. No matter how well-meaning you might be, you're going to do it wrong and you're going to block plenty of legitimate content, including (in this case) tons of well known news publishers who rely on Google's feedproxy service to serve up links to RSS readers, Twitter, Facebook and more.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:45pm

    this is being done because it can be! governments have begun implementing website blocking, so how can it be denied when a company wants to do it? the UK was one of the first, if not the first, to implement blocks, using the 'protect the children' excuse, when what it was really doing was whatever it could to help the entertainment industries, mostly in the USA, rather than get those industries to start giving customers what they asked for and to help, not hinder, technological progress which is aided by the internet. instead of doing this, the UK government and others since have done what was demanded by the industries. that slippery slope wont be easy to get off now and it wont be long before the blocks come into play in the upcoming General Election there! Cameron is going to pull any and all dirty trick he can think of, not to get the country back up and running but to get the NHS and the benefit system completely demolished!!

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

  • icon
    Nate (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:54pm

    "Google's Feedproxy service -- which was formerly Feedburner, a company Google bought years ago"

    Are you sure that you have this the right way around?

    So far as I can see the active name is Feedburner, not Feedproxy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Not that people should be using Google services anyway...

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

  • icon
    connermac725 (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 3:12pm

    I have had that happen

    when I worked for one company I had to argue that the IT dept was blocking me from sites that were needed to do my job.
    the rogue website was for Netscape navigator downloads which back in the day was what we recommended they use.
    I had to explain how I could not help them if I could not see the website to find the download (they changed it like every six months)
    in the end I won out but for 6 weeks I had to tell people sorry cannot help you

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 3:24pm

    The reason for blocking being "anonymizer" leads me to conjecture that they block any (sub)domain containing the string "proxy", which is obviously a great way to block any proxies that allow to access blocked websites.

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

  • icon
    Trails (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 4:03pm

    Sure this is air canada?

    Air Canada doesn't administer Pearson (I assume this is about Pearson, not Billy Bishop Airport)

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

  • identicon
    jazzco, 31 Dec 2014 @ 4:22pm

    Trchcrunch too

    I was in a tummies and got the same thing with TechCrunch.com. I needed to email and bitch about that. They did respond in a couple hours they'll lol into it surprisingly.

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

  • identicon
    Phil, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:18pm

    datavalet

    Datavalet is a wifi provider (associated with Bell?). You seem them in airports and tim hortons etc. Don't think they have anything to do with aircanada other then maybe ads.

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

  • identicon
    RR, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:40pm

    What did you expect?

    They block stuff for the same reason most companies block things. Their lawyers said to do it, as a defense in court when they get sued, or a defense when they get smeared the media for allowing porn. Now they can claim due diligence.

    Can you fault them?

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

    • icon
      Craig Welch (profile), 3 Jan 2015 @ 9:38am

      Re: What did you expect?

      Yes, we can fault them. Well we could if what you said is true. But we don't know if what you said is true.

      Laywers (accountants, other paid advisors) give advice to companies.

      Managers make decisions.

      The managers run the company, not the lawyers (accountants and other paid advisors).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:44pm

    Sounds like I wouldn't want to access the internet with my PC using their "free" WiFi, at least unless it were via a VPN.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2015 @ 7:10am

    It's probably a generic "proxy" word-based block, nothing to get your panties in a bunch over. Just use your data plan if you're not happy, what's the big deal? It's not like you're paying for a service there.

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

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 2 Jan 2015 @ 10:38am

    Datavalet aka spam'R'us

    They also handle a lot of hotels.
    They have been known for ad insertion and as a vector for malicious code as well.

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

  • identicon
    tracyanne, 2 Jan 2015 @ 8:11pm

    What would happen

    if you were to add the following line to your hosts file

    216.58.220.142 feedproxy.google.com

    On Linux it's /etc/hosts, on Windows it's buried somewhere in C:\Windows\System\etc\hosts if think, it's been a long time. Mac is probably the same as Linux

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

  • identicon
    AnonymouseCoward, 4 Jan 2015 @ 3:08pm

    The same happens with Queensland Rai's free WiFi with no evidence at all that they care the slightest. Of course, they also impose a 10Mb download limit...

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

  • identicon
    Khaleb, 8 Jan 2015 @ 7:39am

    ?

    This has nothing to do with Datavalet. It's Air Canada that has set the filtering standard. Datavalet just carries out what their client pays them to do.

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


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