October 19, 2010

Althouse is censored by the IRS.

A reader who works at the IRS and has, in the past, read my blog from his computer there — on lunch break, of course — couldn't get through to my blog today. This message came up instead:



The Internal Revenue Service has restricted access to the requested URL.

Reason: The Internal Revenue Service's category "Phishing and Other Frauds" is filtered.

URL: http://althouse.blogspot.com/
By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

82 comments:

Scott M said...

The machine has you, Althouse.

El Pollo Real said...

By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

I'd get a tax attorney pronto.

Triangle Man said...

Call Nina Olson!

Original Mike said...

By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

You're a subversive, lady.

achmafooma said...

I used to work at the IRS National Office on Constitution Ave. in DC (as a contractor)...

I wouldn't read too much into this. The filters they used were stupid. Really, really, really stupid.

It would block news sites because they had published articles about breast cancer (oh no! breasts! run!)...that was one of the bad words on a list.

I'm glad I don't work there anymore.

Original Mike said...

Well, there are a lot of bad words on this site, so there you go. Well, maybe not a lot, but there are some. Sometimes.

Trooper York said...

I have caught some viruses from some of your links. That must be the problem.

Now I always were a condom when I am commenting. Just sayn'

Pogo said...

Occasionally Althouse is flagged with our "Inappropriate Content" screen.

I found out that, as achmafooma said, filters can be really really stupid.

But sometimes Google is to blame. Turns out the site can be flagged because Blogger is messing up.

Scott M said...

Well, there are a lot of bad words on this site, so there you go. Well, maybe not a lot, but there are some. Sometimes.

The number of bad words on this site is directly related to the number of posts by either Titus or Jeremy.

Duh.

ndspinelli said...

El Pollo...get the hourly rate before you employ that attorney!

Prof, take off your tiara and realize this is one of the few times these Godless, bastards are doing something right. These people should be working.

Trooper York said...

I think you are getting money from foriegn sources and Obama had you blocked.

It's as simple as that.

Trooper York said...

And by the way.... I would like to mention that the people who work at the IRS are dedicated and wonderful public servants who deserve our gratitude for all that they do....they are the best...thank you...you are great Americans!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eric said...

Bah. This is why God made proxies. Shouldn't even be slow for a site that's mostly text.

As to why you're getting this classification, I'm guessing one of two things happened:

Someone read your site and decided they didn't like what you wrote. They won't get anywhere by saying you wrote something they don't like, so they flagged Althouse as some kind of attack site.

Alternatively the service you're using for ads could have been serving up something that carried a virus. That happened to Ace awhile back. The ad providers are pretty good about screening that kind of stuff out, but they're not perfect.

Big organizations can't keep track of all the millions of web sites, so they farm out the black list. I'm guessing it isn't just the IRS - you've probably been black listed by Net Nanny or one of the other services.

TRO said...

They've really clamping the filters down recently due to real phishing and virus attacks on government systems, so it's "highly unlikely" to "not a chance in hell" that is has anything to do with you specifically.

Shanna said...

The filters they used were stupid. Really, really, really stupid.

I suspect that is the case. I get the dumbest stuff blocked at work sometimes for similar reasons.

YoungHegelian said...

Prof Althouse,

Since as part of my business I sell network security products, let me assure you that no one in IRS IT has sat down and decided that YOU, Prof. Ann Althouse, run a fraudulent and/or phishing blog.

Whatever vendor provides their web content filtering product has somehow marked your blog as being unsuitable for work access. In what great cosmic on-line database of offending web sites yours lies marked as a pariah God only knows.

If I had to guess, in spite of the phishing/fraud warning, I suspect that your content, especially the comments, got you marked as not appropriate for work. It also could be that your site got falsely or maliciously reported as being a phising/fraud site to a web blacklisting service.

It's too bad, because I'm sure quite few IRS lawyers would love your site. I'd recommend to the IRS employee who notified you to ask IT to specifically white-list your site. You are, after all, a constitutional law scholar and apposite to their legal work.

Revenant said...

By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

I'd guess it was the blog ads. They're commonly used by phishers and the like; Flash is easy to exploit.

traditionalguy said...

The IRS 's answer to your question will be "Don't ask , and we won't tell". Some of your recent posts did point out Obama's inept style of leadership. That could have irritated Obama's thin skin if he reads the blog. It would figure that Obama's blog name would be America's Politico. Either that or Alpha liberal dropped a dime on you.

Original Mike said...

The number of bad words on this site is directly related to the number of posts by either Titus or Jeremy.

Good point, Scott, though I doubt they are filtering for "loaf".

Original Mike said...

Flash is easy to exploit.

My computer keeps asking me if I want to upgrade Flash, and I keep telling it no.

DADvocate said...

Sometimes it's a word or words. In your case it's probably "arse" paired with Elton John. Or, considering who is CIC, the word "Palin."

deborah said...

I agree with Rev, but it could be POTUS is tired of hearing his old lady's ass being defamed.

HDHouse said...

it wasn't ann. you know better. it is a website that marks visitors with cookies and that is forbidden on sensitive document computers and why would a government worker be permitted to surf blogs on company time and with company machinery.

get off it.

Beth said...

My first thought were those occasional spam posts that make it through, the ones in Chinese characters, or with lists of items for sale.

John Burgess said...

Be grateful your blog name doesn't include the word 'conspiracy'. It took repeated efforts to get that unblocked, and stay unblocked, over at State Dept.

I had to say (WV) preatie please.

edutcher said...

For all we know, this is part of the purge after the Feds were caught watching porn sites.

I mean, all the talk about sex, that hot Ann-Meade romance, posting pictures of them kissing...

Having worked there, I can tell you the processes that determine what gets done are such that Romper Room (if it's still around) could get banned.

GMay said...

AA asked: "By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?"

The Professor lobs up this meatball and none of the lefty trolls take a swing in 26 posts?

I'm disappointed.

Scott M said...

@Gmay

They're mostly laying low for the next two weeks. Chill winds and all that, you know...

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Original Mike, I hope you don't mind some unsolicited advice...

My computer keeps asking me if I want to upgrade Flash, and I keep telling it no.

My general practice is: either upgrade it, or uninstall it. One of the big reasons for upgrades is to patch security holes. Keeping an old version installed can make you more vulnerable.

That's not true for every program and every upgrade, of course. Sometimes the new upgrade has bigger vulnerabilities. So if you've done your research and determined that your version of Flash is solid, then ignore me. I don't have time for that research, so the safe path for me is to get the upgrades.

The local auto shop has a computer; and I watched the guy bring it up when I brought my car in. Every single morning, he says No to Windows upgrades, because he's too busy. From what I could see, they hadn't upgraded in over two years. I made sure I paid in cash, because I didn't want to trust that machine with any of my account numbers.

Rialby said...

"By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?"

You let Garage post 36 comments on social security about which he knows nothing?

Original Mike said...

@Martin - Yeah, I'm aware of your point. My concern is actually less about security (which is probably foolish on my part) and more about the obnoxiousness of the ads which seem to go up with new "capabilities".

But I'll give your advice some thought, thanks.

GMay said...

"You let Garage post 36 comments on social security about which he knows nothing?"

You actually went back and counted that mess?

Rialby said...

Nah, just SWAGed it. 36 is close enough for government work.

See what I did there?

GMay said...

Scott said: "Chill winds and all that, you know..."

They're probably thinking more like "something wicked this way comes". All those Tea Party and Right wing extremists causing such a ruckus out on the Pelennor and such.

GMay said...

"See what I did there?"

Layers man...layers.

garage mahal said...

"You let Garage post 36 comments on social security about which he knows nothing?"

I think you have Stockholm syndrome.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

garage mahal said...

I think you have Stockholm syndrome.

Nah, Munchausen's by Proxy: he calls you sick, so he can call attention to himself.

(Just kidding, Rialby, the joke was irresistible.)

garage mahal said...

LOFL. That was funny.

Sorry Rialby.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Beth: My first thought were those occasional spam posts that make it through, the ones in Chinese characters, or with lists of items for sale.

Liberals are always blaming the Chinese.

Rialby said...

If I have Munchausen by Proxy that would make me the adult figure and Garage the child.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

By everything you write. ;-)

Many workplaces restrict Blogger. Maybe if you tried writing something thoughtful, insightful and accurate for a change and the perception of what's offered on Blogger might change.

It's all up to you, EBL.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Rialby,

I fencing, we would call that a parry-riposte. Nicely done!

HDHouse said...

GMay said...
"The Professor lobs up this meatball and none of the lefty trolls take a swing in 26 posts?"

no swings needed meathead. in the late 1990s the IRS and all Treasury Dept workers (my wife was one of the later) had their computers firewalled against surfing where cookies were deposited and with the number of things that google does on each page view, it was no wonder.

and meathead, i posted earlier to this effect.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Actually, I love how removed one has to be from the people with whom she claims such solidarity to not realize how many workplaces restrict internet access period, and not just access to Blogger.

This is like the moment in 1992 when George Bush didn't know the price of milk and other groceries.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

What a revelation: The people who claim to know so much about tax policy and its evils don't even have a clue as to basic workplace expectations in not only most places of business and many government agencies, but in the IRS itself.

Way to go!!!

garage mahal said...

If I have Munchausen by Proxy that would make me the adult figure and Garage the child.

But that makes you someone who is causing illness to a child to gain attention for yourself, making you guilty of child abuse. This won't help the filters I'm afraid.

Rialby said...

Bush and the grocery scanner..

Your liberal friends over at Snopes already took this one down years ago. Keep repeating your memes.

Rialby said...

Garage... own your immaturity.

garage mahal said...

Stop dragging me to the doctor for no damn reason!

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

That was a great hyperlink, Rialby.

You wanna try again? We are discussing what it means to stay in touch with people and adept with the times, regardless of which memes have been fisked - yet still survive intact.

Being unable to hyperlink correctly reminds me of McCain's lack of familiarity with computers in 2008.

We could go on and on like this.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Brasileiro said...

From Wired:

During the 2008 presidential race, John McCain’s online team has often used web video to get the candidate’s major campaign themes out onto the internet.

But an offhand verbal riposte by one of the members of that team has turned into a viral video that’s providing just the kind of attention they don’t want. It’s reviving the idea that the Republican presidential candidate is clueless when it comes to technology.

Speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York Monday, McCain deputy e-campaign director Mark Soohoo responded to a comment about McCain’s self-professed computer illiteracy by saying that McCain is "aware of the internet."

The comment, caught on video and uploaded to the web on Tuesday by Micah Sifry, one of the two organizers of the conference, quickly made the rounds on the web and on Twitter.

It eventually provided fodder for one of CNN’s regular off-beat stories done by its national correspondent Jeanne Moos, who took to the streets to conduct an unscientific survey of what Americans both young and old thought of McCain’s computer illiteracy.

Everyone but one person interviewed agreed that McCain should know how to use a computer.

One woman exclaimed: "Oh, that’s absolutely ridiculous."

Even Hu Jintao, China’s president, surfs the web.

To be fair, what this online branding obscures is the fact that McCain is probably more familiar with, and better versed than most of the roster of the 2008 presidential candidates on the nuances of telecommunications and internet policy because of his work as a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation — work for which he has received frequent praise from consumer advocacy groups and think tanks.

So with all this in mind, take our poll.

Explain your vote in the comments section.

Does it matter if a president of the United States is computer illiterate?
Yes
89%
No
10%

Chip Ahoy said...

The post says that the blog was available before and now it's not. Reason given: phishing. The question is what happened exactly in the meantime, not why does it happen at all.

GMay said...

HDHouse swung and missed: "no swings needed meathead. in the late 1990s the IRS and all Treasury Dept workers (my wife was one of the later) had their computers firewalled against surfing where cookies were deposited and with the number of things that google does on each page view, it was no wonder.

and meathead, i posted earlier to this effect."


Ritmo was the first and only lefty to swing at the meatball. You posted tech stuff twice, which any moron could figure out wasn't what I was talking about.

Nice try dipshit.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Who even knows or cares what GMaynot is talking about. Once his Blogger profile gets more than 254 views, and his blog has any actual posts, let alone any that are read widely enough to put him on BloggingHeads, then he can bitch and whine about being too out of touch to understand how the internet culture is impacted by policies in real workplaces used by real Americans!

GMay said...

Ritty floats this one out: "Actually, I love how removed one has to be from the people with whom she claims such solidarity to not realize how many workplaces restrict internet access period, and not just access to Blogger."

I love how shitty your reading comprehension has to be to miss the fact that the Professor clearly stated her blog wasn't always restricted there and, as Chip ahoy pointed out, what exactly set off the restriction.

Now I realize this thread has reached the '5 posts by Ritmo' rule for declaring a thread absolutely fucked beyond rescue, but come on dude, you're not usually this dense.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I love how shitty your reading comprehension has to be to miss the fact that the Professor clearly stated her blog wasn't always restricted there and, as Chip ahoy pointed out, what exactly set off the restriction.

A bad economy and greater focus on productivity than before? More stringent blocking policies on social networking sites? I've seen them block Blogger at two places that didn't previously.

You're just as out of touch as EBL, so shutting up is probably the best advice you could give yourself on this one as well, GMaynot.

GMay said...

Ritty asked: "Who even knows or cares what GMaynot is talking about."

GMaynot? Dude, that just cuts too deep.

GMay said...

This cutting edge playground invective is just too much for me to handle Ritty, I'm outta here.

Clyde said...

My guess would be that they probably block the entire .blogspot domain. There may be some dodgy commercial sites that use Blogspot, since it is free, and they may have received complaints about some of them.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

You should ask yourself if it's really I who kills a thread or the fact that it was so irredeemably off-base to begin with.

Sorry to rain on your groupthink parade but Blogger is now blocked at a lot of workplaces. Deal. Grow up. And get in touch with the American people whom you claim to speak for. This is their reality nowadays. You simply don't get that, do you?

Michael said...

Ritmo: What does "adept with the times" mean? Thanks in advance.

Bartender Cabbie said...

They can't be looking at your blog while they are "doing the people." Or is it doing the people's business?

garage mahal said...

Speaking of censorship I'm bit perplexed Althouse hasn't at least touched on Joe Miller's security detail. Seems like something usually right in her wheelhouse.

Roger J. said...

My personal rule is when the discussion devolves in criticism of typos or ability to hyperlink using html, the cause is lost.

I am a lousy typist (made worse since I went to a netbook) and tend not to proof read a blog post--I also know how to hyperlink but generally find its faster for me to cut an paste it rather to use HTML. If either of those practices offend people, well, so be it.

This is a blog and not a journal or more scholarly publication. And those rely on editors to clean up my shortcomings.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

How about "adept at handling the demands of the times"? Does that work, Michael?

Thanking my editor in advance,

Ritmo -

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

You're right, Roger. It was a bit petty of me to get on Rialby's case about the improperly inserted hyperlink. I just thought it was a little droll given the focus of the thread on technology and its limitations.

Roger J. said...

And to the larger point: I find myself in agreement with those that say the employer has the right to restrict access to any but intranet sites or sites the employee can show are necesssary to conduct company business. (use listservs--they serve the same purpose and generally dont get filtered)

Roger J. said...

BTW Professor: what would be your legal remedy to have the IRS restore you blog so government employees could access on the kings shilling? As a conlaw guru I am sure you could come up with some grounds.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

But as a Tea Party wanna-be she can't.

The blog has no redeeming value to anyone's economic productivity.

Even the star herself still keeps her day job.

Pete said...

I'm former IRS, my wife is current IRS. The restriction parameters change all the time. No biggie.

Michael said...

Ritmo: Thanks. So the next time I read "adept with the times: I will know that it means
"adept at handling the demands of the times". Is there a code book or should I just ask every time?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Just read what Roger said at 6:57 and keep that in mind.

former law student said...

By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

Unfortunately these are the same questions that the bad guys would want to know the answers to, to get their fraudulent, phishing blogs into the IRS computers.

Eric said...

And to the larger point: I find myself in agreement with those that say the employer has the right to restrict access to any but intranet sites or sites the employee can show are necesssary to conduct company business.

It's getting harder and harder to do your job without free access to the web. I would be about half as productive.

Skyler said...

YOu've been censored by the USMC for a few years.

lewsar said...

"By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?"

althouse h4x!

Lawgiver said...

I currently work in civil service, DOD for the USAF. Anytime of the day I can view HuffPo, Drudge, Instapundit, Facebook and Youtube. Althouse is blocked. Go figure.

Bartender Cabbie said...

The heck with HTML. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Freeman Hunt said...

Quit asking us for our credit card numbers.

Kirk Parker said...

THey just have you confused with Volokh, that's all.

joewxman said...

i work for the irs..and i am blocked from irs web sites! i took an online security course and could not finish it because..are you ready..i was blocked for security reasons!