Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft GNU is Not Unix The Internet Your Rights Online

Microsoft Blocks FSF Donation Website As a 'Gambling Site' 301

Posted by timothy
from the what-are-the-odds? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The FSF slammed Microsoft for categorizing donate.fsf.org website as a 'Gambling Site.' Corporate systems that use a Microsoft 'network security' program cannot access FSF donation website because of this and as a result, many people were unable to make donations. FSF has submitted a correction to Microsoft and they are now waiting for a response. However, John Sullivan warned corporate about Microsoft's proprietary network security programs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Blocks FSF Donation Website As a 'Gambling Site'

Comments Filter:
  • Stay grounded (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meekg (30651) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @09:30AM (#40428591) Homepage

    Hysterics and hyperbole do not serve us well.
    IF MS ignores the correction, sure. But that hasn't happened, has it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Arancaytar (966377)

      Frankly, the idea that this could be accidental in the first place is ludicrous.

      Antivirus vendors classifying the competition as malware is an easy mistake due to antivirus software employing similar methods to viruses in examining memory. Classifying a non-profit organization as a gambling site? Not an easy mistake. Doing it to a site belonging to a rival organization? Yeah, no.

      • Re:Stay grounded (Score:5, Insightful)

        by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @10:31AM (#40429065)

        Frankly, the idea that this could be accidental in the first place is ludicrous.

        Frankly, the idea that it wasn't accidental is ludicrous, I would doubt very highly that MS has humans categorising sites, instead it's probably all automated based on roughly the same tech as email spam filters.

        • by Weezul (52464)

          I'd agree that fsf.org was almost surely miss-categorized by a filtering algorithm.

          In particular, Microsoft has surely added filters that reduce the possibility that Windows users happen upon software that directly competes with Microsoft's offerings.

          In principle, they'd avoid blocking important sites like fsf.org, but presumably they block less important stuff. It's simply that fsf.org fell through the cracks.

          • FSF.org doesn't offer software. You'd have a point if they had blocked Gnu.org.

      • Re:Stay grounded (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @12:09PM (#40429799)

        Frankly, the idea that this could be accidental in the first place is ludicrous.

        No, MS aren't stupid. They would know such a block could not stand for long and would generate much bad publicity for them. They'd much rather just ignore the FSF. Now they'll probably have to apologise to them. Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

        More likely the FSF home page, with all of its talk about "free software" was classified by MS's filters as a warez site.

        • Re:Stay grounded (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Xtifr (1323) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:31PM (#40430467) Homepage

          No, MS aren't stupid.

          Citation needed. Bringing obviously-faked evidence into a courtroom seems like a strong counter-example to this claim.

          Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

          Wait, now you're saying they are stupid? :)

          More likely the FSF home page, with all of its talk about "free software" was classified by MS's filters as a warez site.

          That might make sense if it had been classified as a warez site. But it wasn't. If I had to make an honest guess, mine would be an in-house joke used during testing that got left in when they went live.

          That's assuming they do fix it and apologize. Otherwise, I think we're back to malice. ;)

    • by NotBorg (829820) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @10:39AM (#40429129)

      Hysterics and hyperbole do not serve us well.

      You must be new here. What have you done with 30651? Is he ok? What are your demands?

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yeah this should be listed under "shit happens" as its no different than that time somebody at AVG fucked up and had svchost listed as malware, or that time one of them labeled Steam as a bug.

      Its security folks, shit happens, things go wrong, mistakes are made. if MSFT refuses to correct? Sure you have every right to call them to the carpet. But as long as they have it fixed within say the next 48 hours (giving them extra time because naturally shit screwing up on a weekend is usually a bigger PITA) then

  • by xiando (770382) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @09:33AM (#40428615) Homepage Journal
    You can go directly to http://my.fsf.org/donate/ [fsf.org] if donate.fsf.org is blocked by your local friendly firewall. You can also use Tor to bypass blocks like these.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @09:42AM (#40428687)

      You can also use Tor to bypass blocks like these.

      Eh....

      It is not impossible to block Tor. A standard approach is to have the firewall block all Tor entry nodes, which forces people to use bridge nodes instead. Increasingly, though, there is an approach that is much harder to evade: blocking of connections that match Tor's "fingerprint" i.e. because Tor uses OpenSSL in a way that can be distinguished from Firefox+NSS etc.

      Of course, there is a bright side if you are dealing with a school or corporate firewall: you can always set up a system at your house that you SSH to, and use as a proxy server. That was something friends of mine used to do in high school.

      • by heypete (60671)

        Evidently one can also try connecting to the suspected Tor node in question and seeing if it "speaks Tor" -- this utility [dan.me.uk] appears to use that method.

        My understanding is that's what the Chinese are doing to detect bridge nodes, though I very well could be wrong.

      • by jez9999 (618189)

        So they're blocking Tor, but allowing SSH connections?

        • Well, that's how China does things. It is reasonable to think that a school or corporation might allow SSH but not Tor, since there are more obvious "legitimate" uses for SSH.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @09:33AM (#40428619)

    what's that old saying "never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence" or whatever? I mean this is MS we're talking about...

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @10:09AM (#40428895) Journal

      what's that old saying "never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence" or whatever? I mean this is MS we're talking about...

      Which makes malice in the guise of incompetence particularly insidious and effective.
      In the absence of clear evidence one way or the other, it's best to reserve judgment regarding malice vs incompetence where a recidivist [wikipedia.org] company notorious [wikipedia.org] for its dirty tricks [catb.org] is concerned. The aphorism you quoted (especially the "never" bit) is overridden in this case by Microsoft's track record of cunning malice, mind-boggling incompetence, incompetent malice, and malicious incompetence. It could be any of them.

    • by arobatino (46791)

      Especially since the number of people who want to donate to the FSF while using Microsoft's software is approximately zero.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      yeah, they should sue microsoft for defamation and ... effectively get a large donation.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      In any case, the damage done is the same. Saying "I didn't mean to!" is not an acceptable defence for a bug.

    • by Mabhatter (126906) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @10:25AM (#40429013)

      The most obvious answer is that a handful of Microsoft fanboy admins submitted the site just to mess with FSF fanboys. These things have all been crowd sourced for years.

      Most of these tools us a proprietary list that takes an unknown number of input votes to block something. Then you have to ask very nicely to get off the list that gets published to the masses. It's censorship by the noisiest submitters. It's much like how big websites like yahoo or Engadget keep getting their emails "automatically" blocked by spam filters. A few high influence admins just keep hitting the Spam button on work accounts and 1000 users have to unblock to get it off the spam list.

      There IS a process at most of these filter agencies if you grease the right palms, you will get on the mythical "white" list. Whether you are big name sites like Amazon that can bully to keep your name off, or the list runner has a sweet spot for Equestria Daily... But that's a "private list decision"

    • The 21st century version: Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to automation.

      It would be extremely tempting to attribute stupidity and incompetence on Microsoft's part. Stupider than that however is not knowing up to what point you should trust a system. Example: GPS. If your GPS shows there's supposed to be a bridge in front of you, but all you see is a ditch, do you drive on, confident that the GPS is never wrong, or do you trust the evidence of your eyes?

      • Automation is supposed to be smart enough to detect edge cases. If not it's just buggy software. Saying that something is automated, is not an excuse for it to make wrong decisions.

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      I would struggle to even call it incompetence, I would bet the lists are made up by web crawlers applying roughly the same algorithm as email filtering... Quite frankly, it's not incompetence if your bot hits the occasional false positive.

  • John Sullivan warned corporate about Microsoft's proprietary network security programs.

    Are there any non-proprietary corporate network security options?

  • Legal Response (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @09:50AM (#40428741)

    The FSF should sue Microsoft for loss of donations and ask for punitive damages for monopolistic anti-competitive behavior.

    • Ah, Bullwinkle, that trick never works.

    • Yet I wouldn't be surprised if the FSF saw a small increase in donations due to this story bringing the FSF to the front of people's minds. How many readers here are thinking right now, "Oh yeah, I haven't donated to the FSF in a while, maybe I should go do that"?

    • by westlake (615356)

      The FSF should sue Microsoft for loss of donations and ask for punitive damages for monopolistic anti-competitive behavior.

      Because the ever-paranoid geek couldn't wait to make his charitable donation from home after working hours?

      But was more than willing to risk a donation to the EFF being exposed to his employer?

    • Re:Legal Response (Score:5, Informative)

      by LurkerXXX (667952) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:03PM (#40430683)

      Or...

      The FSF should realize that twdx.net, their provider, also hosts gambling sites such as http://www.poker-tester.com/ [poker-tester.com] etc, and that their IP may have either been previously used by a gambling site, or was blacklisted in a block along with other gambling sites hosted at that provider.

      It's nice out today and doesn't look like rain. You can take off the tin-foil hat.

    • BS Legal Response (Score:4, Informative)

      by xigxag (167441) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:16PM (#40430755)

      FSF has no grounds to sue Microsoft, even if this is deliberate. Microsoft has no monopoly or close to it in the webfilter arena. Microsoft isn't secretly mucking with dns or some other blatantly illegal action. Client corporations voluntarily elect to use Microsoft's security software to control their own traffic. MS makes no claims that it is 100% accurate. Additionally, MS has procedures in place to correct a misclassification [microsoft.com]. And even if they didn't, there's no standard by which third-party private web filters are actionable, other than say, breach of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. But in that case, the proper plaintiff would be Microsoft's customer, not FSF.

      Oh, FSF might lose some donations? How is that MS's problem? FSF's suing Microsoft is like advertisers suing the makers of NoScript and Adblock for depriving them of eyeballs.

    • Illegal restraint of trade.
  • All's fine until you try that. Like this guy, he can browse smoothly, usi .. see ... right pages using cleartype ...
    oh, wait... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1zxDa3t0fg

  • Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Or incompetence in this case.
  • breast cancer web sites some times get flagged as sex / pron sites.

    maybe some thing on the site trigger a bot to flag it.

  • Way too many people are hung up on the idea of Microsoft "abusing its monopoly" by accidentally blocking the FSF's donation page. Let's pretend Microsoft had a monopoly on web filters or something. Does preventing people from donating to the FSF make it more likely that people will donate to Microsoft's Open Source charity? Since Microsoft doesn't have an Open Source charity, I'd guess no.
    • Some employee could be acting alone to do such things; but then the lack of documentation allows for the perfect cover. Unless required to keep emails and memos for every action and a policy or law to retain those in a secure fashion you can't be sure of WHO is behind many actions performed.

      Obviously, SOMEBODY does it but with a chain of command it is so much easier to spread, dilute, and HIDE blame.

  • Microsoft has ALWAYS behaved this way. How many 3rd party applications or features have /.ers discovered dont work properly in Windows when there is anything remotely resembling a competitive product offered by Microsoft...anyone ever try to use hotmail in non-IE browsers or chat on msn via trillian? Browsers in general for those of us that remember the big IE integrated with windows debate/doj case and the resulting minor concession MS was forced to make. I am not just talking about when MS updates Windo
    • by heypete (60671)

      anyone ever try to use hotmail in non-IE browsers or chat on msn via trillian?

      Er, yes. It works fine.

      I don't think I've ever had problems with Hotmail and non-IE browsers since the service was founded. Of course, I usually just use Hotmail for throwaway junk accounts but I've never had any issues.

      I don't use Trillian, but Pidgin works fine with MSN chat.

      Microsoft has done some shady things in the past, but it'd seem rather foolish for them to screw around with their major services like Hotmail and MSN Chat...

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      I've never once had any trouble running any 3rd-party software on Windows. Apple's walled garden worries me WAY more than anything MS has ever done.

  • Microsoft have a terrifying security history, who is using their network security tools?

    Can someone give me a list of those companies so I can make sure I don't deal with them?

    • Here are some:

      Not network security but built on .NET.

      StackOverflow.
      Newegg.
      Plentyoffish.
      Geico.

      • by 1s44c (552956)

        Here are some:

        Not network security but built on .NET.

        Here is a list of fish:
        cod
        salmon
        place
        haddock

        What was your point again?

  • Since Microsoft has no desire to secure its OS, you can get a virus at the slightest thing. It wouldn't be difficult to secure Windows OS. Just secure it so things can't be installed outside the directory you put them in, and can't affect things outside that directory. Leave a backwards compatibility mode for those who's systems rely on legacy software.
  • by cpghost (719344) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:27PM (#40432017) Homepage
    In all likelihood, this will prove to be a false positive generated by some poorly engineered classification algorithm at Microsoft. I dislike Microsoft as much as everyone else, but c'mon guys, this is so obviously bogus that it can't be malice. Even if it is Microsoft we're talking about here. IMHO, it's a clear case of MSAU (MS Artificial Unintelligence) at work.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

Working...