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TSA Internally Blocking Websites With 'Controversial Opinions'

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.

Censorship 147

sterlingda writes "The Transportation Security Administration is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a 'controversial opinion,' according to an internal email obtained by CBS News. The new rules came into force on July 1, and prevent TSA employees from accessing such content, though what is deemed 'controversial opinion' is not explained."

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TSA is blocking...slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802776)

TSA is blocking...slashdot! would have been a better title.

Intestines Want to be Free! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802786)

The day after thanksgiving a few years ago, Richard Stallman was sitting on the toilet constipated. After about 4 days without being able to take a shit he finally decided to force it out. Straining himself, he began pushing really hard and eventually he started to hear a dripping into the toilet.

"Almost got it," he thought, and gave it one more big push. Kaaa splooosh! What a relief, he must have lost at least ten pounds right there. He started to wipe, but he then noticed that his hand was covered with blood. He quickly jumped up to see a pile of bloody intestines trailing their way back to his ripped open bloody asshole.

"Oh God! I can't believe this is happening to me," the distressed hacker yelled, grabbing his intestines out of the toilet and trying to push them back into his ass. The experience was so disgusting that he puked all over himself and passed out. His dog Hurd found him later that day and ate most of the intestines that were outside of his body. How did he survive you ask? Well, lets just say that the power of GNU Emacs should never be underestimated.

Re:Intestines Want to be Free! (-1, Offtopic)

ZeRu (1486391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803116)

What's up with so many comments like these being all over /. lately? Is this some 4chan offensive or what?

This isn't news (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802784)

The TSA can filter websites from their work computers, just like every other organization in the world with office drones of their own. The fact that they include "controversial" material (as well as gaming and chat sites) doesn't preclude the employees from going home and reading it on their own time on their own computers.

The Cathedral and the Mustard Jar (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802806)

One time when Eric S. Raymond was young he got a small jar of mustard stuck up his ass. It was so far up there that he had to go to the doctors to have it removed. When the doctor went in for an exploratory he could not find the mustard jar.
"How far is it up inside you?", the doctor asked him.
"It's deep in there," Eric said, "keep looking."
The doctor then proceeded to reach farther into his anal cavity, but still no jar.
"I can't seem to reach it," the doc said. "I think we will have to do an x-ray, to see whereabouts in your ass the jar is located."
"No. That's okay," he said back to the doctor, "I just wanted you to stick your hand up my ass. That's all."
After that the hospital banned him from coming back, but the doctor was from that point forward a valued contributor to open-source.

Re:The Cathedral and the Mustard Jar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802906)

I love how this is modded "Redundant," as in "Yes, we already know. ESR sure does love anal fisting."

Re:This isn't news (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802938)

It reminds me of once when my boss was giving instructions on which sites were appropriate to browse from work. A secretary remarked "all I browse are news sites", the boss answered "so you think you're being paid to read newspapers?"

However, the point is not that. If the TSA had an intent to regulate which sites are not appropriate for browsing at work they should include a lot more than "controversial material". OTOH, some "controversial material" shold be allowed, at least for some employees.

An agency that has "security" in its name should be on alert for security related issues, and those often generate controversy.

Re:This isn't news (3, Insightful)

Altrag (195300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803710)

I think you're taking 'controversial' in the wrong context. I doubt that they mean "issues that generate debate" so much as "opinions and facts that we disagree with" (yes, I'm sure it includes facts -- these sort of bans always do). Typically 'controversial opinions' in the second context are generated from the first, and the idea is to just ban one side of the argument so that the readers (TSA employees in this case) will have affirmation of the accepted side and no affirmation of the opposing view. The idea is to steer them towards your way of thinking by simply removing all other thought (of course nothing is preventing any particular employee from thinking up their own opposing viewpoint, but if they try to present it to anyone else it would quickly be pushed under the category of 'controversial opinion' and be banned as well).

Re:This isn't news (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804164)

It reminds me of once when my boss was giving instructions on which sites were appropriate to browse from work. A secretary remarked "all I browse are news sites", the boss answered "so you think you're being paid to read newspapers?"

However, the point is not that. If the TSA had an intent to regulate which sites are not appropriate for browsing at work they should include a lot more than "controversial material". OTOH, some "controversial material" shold be allowed, at least for some employees.

Why? It's up to them what they consider appropriate for someone's leisure use of their work computers. And unless reviewing "controversial opinion" sites is explicitly part of your job, I don't think they want to pay you to have raving arguments over the internet all day.

Re:This isn't news (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802952)

It's not news, but I'm puzzled as to why they're implementing the ban. They don't have to. The type of people who work for the TSA wouldn't bother to look up liberal garbage about "rights," and would likely rage if they stumbled upon it.

Re:This isn't news (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802974)

Hi, I work in Aviation Security. The reason this is bad is because it goes against expected industry behaviour, we're expected to always be actively involved in our own professional development ("I must continue to upgrade my knowledge and skills."; "I must increase my awareness of issues affecting the security profession and its relationship with the community.") . This cannot be done if differing opinions to the norm are blocked.

Re:This isn't news (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803260)

Hello, I work in Information Technology. This is not any different for you or anyone else because we are all expected to keep up with our own professional development, but it is not expected to be done on company hours. They actively encourage me to go get certification for various fields, check out new products and systems, attend Microsoft (we're a primarily microsoft shop) events and so on and so forth. However, from 8 till 5 Monday to Friday, we are expected to be at our desk, running regular maintenance of the back end, and supporting co-workers through the help desk system. We are not supposed to browse any sites other than those needed to help in our daily activities. Any research or professional development can be done at home, when you aren't getting paid to do specific tasks.

Re:This isn't news (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803384)

Any research or professional development can be done at home, when you aren't getting paid to do specific tasks.

Ouch, my company pays for research and education, because the company benefits from it. Of course, we don't have people jumping ship after training, either.

Re:This isn't news (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804570)

I'm with Zerth here-- as a freelancer, I have to be constantly updating my skillset to stay competitive in the marketplace, which I do on my own time (because ALL my time is my own) at my own expense.

As an employee, however, I feel that it's my employer's job to keep the company competitive-- which means keeping all technology and assets (employees are an asset) current at the company's expense. That's one reason why my employer gets a bigger slice of the client's dollars than I do.

Re:This isn't news (1)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803414)

Yes, but doesn't this seem like a way to keep you working at all times? Your company wants you to stay on the cutting edge of technology not for yourself, but for the company. If you're checking out products,services, seminars to Microsoft and your primary duty is to service Microsoft tools, then your employer is gaming your knowledge without compensating you. Sure, you have the right to not share that knowledge, but how long do you think your job will last if you're not dishing out the goods of what you recently learned that could help the organization?

When you receive a degree, your employer is paying you for your knowledge up to that point. If you learn additional skills outside of work, you're employer isn't entitled to that knowledge. If they want it, they can pay for the cost to attend the seminar, travel and related expenses. I don't believe a company should tell you to develop yourself beyond what they're paying you for and use that new knowledge within the organization, but tell you that you're not allowed to do the same while on the clock. Either they need to help you with that development (financially, resources, contacts, etc) or inform you that your job is to do what's in your job description and specification and nothing else. That way, all professional development you've accomplished on your own time can go to the next employer after yours terminates you for another rookie right out of college.

Re:This isn't news (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803560)

If your employer EXPECTS it, then it is a work activity. I'm sure they DO actively encourage you to do work related activities off the clock on your own dime, with the lax labor laws, where's the downside to them?

Like many things, there is a lot of gray area and abuses happen in both directions all the time.

Re:This isn't news (1)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803610)

An interesting attitude from your employer.
  • Do they also claim to own the rights to anything you develop on your own time, even if not related to your work?
  • Are you permitted to do other work, if it's not in the Information Technology field?
  • Are you permitted to do other work, in the information technology field?
  • Are you also expected to perform administrative tasks in your own time?
  • Are you extremely well paid?

Re:This isn't news (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803744)

1) No. Though I am not hired as a developer at my work (more of a technician). I am a rare case where my experience in software development lets me work in that field but a majority of my work isn't. However, I do believe that the company has a policy that any systems developed based on any existing systems at our company belong to the company, and anything done during work hours belongs to the company. Anything after hours is not related to the company.

2) I'm not sure how that would work, but essentially, no. I'm not allowed to help with shipping, invoicing, or anything else. I am expected to do IT, it's a full time job, and there is never a moment when there isn't anything left to do. Our management has ensured that we have proper short term and long term plans, so if you've finished putting out the fires for the day you can work on the long term plans.

3) I'd have to check with my manager before I did anything other than what I've been told to do. I can't take old monitors and desktops down to electronic recycling without his go-ahead. They've drawn the lines clearly to me of what I can do without permission and what I can do on my own. And they've shown me what exactly it is I need to do every day.

4) There are only four of us in IT, it's a company of about 800 employees, across Canada. We rotate who is On-Call for the week. On-Call is not met with any extra pay, it is agreed that it is simply part of the job.

5) Not at all. I'd say I make about 5k to 10k below average.

Always actively searching, but the job market in my city isn't doing too hot for IT right now.

Re:This isn't news (1)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 4 years ago | (#32805020)

I meant, could you take a second job? Could you make and sell artwork (not IT related), or write and sell software (IT related) during the weekends.

By administrative tasks I meant things like writing reports about your work, as opposed to doing your work.

Re:This isn't news (1)

wtbname (926051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803694)

Some of the best Google applications came from people's 20% time. Time they were being paid to do unspecific tasks...

Re:This isn't news (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803718)

Any research or professional development can be done at home, when you aren't getting paid to do specific tasks.

That's the sort of employer that can't hold on to good staff.

Re:This isn't news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803832)

I know the Naval Academy has been blocking websites beyond the normal porn/gambling/hacking/proxy sites for at least a few years now. They have fun categories like "Terrorism", "Inappropriate", and - my favorite - "Tasteless" (South Park related websites went here.) Now, they never blocked anything as mainstream as moveon.org, but midshipmen were never told what criteria were necessary to get a website banned and these were the midshipmen's personal computers in their dorm. Midshipmen aren't allowed to leave the campus during the week so the connection in their room is the only connection they have access to. Although the connection to the internet was made through a DoD network (which gave the Academy the legal right) and I never smelled any political censorship, I still wouldn't dare to take off my tin foil hat.

Re:This isn't news (1)

acalltoreason (1732266) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804838)

True, but that still doesn't make it right. The government should entertain all points of view. Plus they could, if it were unfiltered, monitor the connections for suspicious activity.

Must not have disloyalty (2, Funny)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802790)

We must not have any disloyalty in the TSA!

All Open Source Developers are Shallow (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802820)

One time I was at a free software convention and Linus Torvalds started to make conversation with me. He kept talking about all the women at the event that he would like to have sex with. Making jokes and gestures to his crotch. I just smiled. None of what he said I found amusing. He was really obnoxious. "I wanna fuck all the chicks, I'm no Faggot!" Linus said. After a small uncomfortable silence. I said , "I'm gay and I think I want to have sex with you." He then yelled something I couldn't understand, called me a fucking fag, then tried to beat me up. I was much bigger than him so I was actually able to beat him into unconsciousness. I then stripped him down to nothing, tied him to a nearby column, and got everyone at the event to insert at least one object into his ass before they left. The moral of this story is to not use GNU/Linux, it will make you gay.

Re:Must not have disloyalty (3, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802898)

That is their prerogative. Like any other workplace they do have the right to block access to whatever material they don't want their employees viewing. I'm in the process of setting up a new proxy for a small office, on it they've asked me to block a fairly large list of sites. I will grant you that the "controversial opinion" aspect has shades of big brother, but in all honesty I have to believe that was bureaucratic shorthand for sites that shouldn't be viewed on a work computer. If you want unfettered access to the internet, do it at home.

Sounds like they're instituting "WebSense". (3, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802950)

We use it where I work and it has those same categories.

The annoying thing is that it blocks on-line betting sites as "gaming" in the same category as "zero punctuation".

Re:Sounds like they're instituting "WebSense". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803712)

So which one are you complaining about not being able to get to?

Re:Sounds like they're instituting "WebSense". (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803716)

That's actually one really cool thing about having Flash on Android Froyo - Zero Punctuation actually works pretty well with it.

Smart phones are just another method of "I'll still view the site anyhow whether you like it or not".

Re:Must not have disloyalty (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804768)

Yumping yimminy people, grow the fuck up. The only web sites the typical worker should access from work are those one that directly relate to their work, anything, absolutely anything (even personal banking) is a privilege and a perk.

Most companies should not block sites, they should block the whole of the world wide web and only allow access to sites that relate to company business. A whole bunch of you should spend some time on factory production lines, boring, mindless, monotonous work, from which there is very little opportunity to escape and where rapidity and accuracy of your robot like motions will define you income (I have done it and I know how difficult it is over an extended period).

Those whiny mass media sites only care about themselves and don't give a crap about anyone else. There are thousands upon thousands, actually millions upon millions of workers who can access zero, absolutely fucking zero web sites at work, no comfy chair, no air-conditioner, no computer, no tea room chats and, no skiving off upon a regular basis.

Of course it is still really lame and stupid for the TSA to block sites that, hmm, let's guess, are critical of them but, hey, from the way they treat people they really are a total bunch of wankers in desperate need of some customer relations training. I would hand their taser's to people passing through TSA checkpoints and if the TSA agent acts like a dick the customer can tase them (To be honest I think taser are crap and simply a electric whip being using to torture, humiliate and occasionally murder people, rather than being used to save lives).

Re:Must not have disloyalty (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32805206)

You're wasting your time. They obviously blocked slashdot lol

Who decides what is 'controversial opinion'? (1, Insightful)

PatPending (953482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802800)

A bureaucrat? A czar?

Re:Who decides what is 'controversial opinion'? (1)

Snarkalicious (1589343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802978)

Depends on who they put in charge of the list. I know where I work the dude in charge blocks most of the sites I like to visit (DKos, Wonkette etc etc...I iz a soshalist/muslin), but his faves are fair game (Drudge, RedState etc). It all comes down to one person's perspective and their willingness to view things dispassionately.

Although I suppose my example only holds if you view this as a general issue and not one specifically to do with government.

Meh.

Re:Who decides what is 'controversial opinion'? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803134)

Depends on who they put in charge of the list. I know where I work the dude in charge blocks most of the sites I like to visit (DKos, Wonkette etc etc...I iz a soshalist/muslin), but his faves are fair game (Drudge, RedState etc). It all comes down to one person's perspective and their willingness to view things dispassionately.

This is the reason I don't like this kind of policy. If they don't want people wasting their time by reading about current issues or news on paid time, that would be fine. If they choose what to allow or ban based on the opinions of the sites, I don't think it kosher. That would mean they are pushing an agenda or at best treating employees differently based on their political views. If it's about people spending their time reading blogs instead of working, why would employees with non-"controversial" opinions be allowed to slack off? Republican supporters don't have to work as hard as the others?

In general I don't think filtering beyond malware sites is a good idea. US:ians are far too willing to let employers dictate what employees do with company equipment. Why should the employer care whether I read Slashdot on a break or when waiting for something? Remove the coffee machine and newspapers if you want people to stare at the roof when they're not actively doing anything.

Re:Who decides what is 'controversial opinion'? (1)

emt377 (610337) | more than 4 years ago | (#32805314)

Why should the employer care whether I read Slashdot on a break or when waiting for something? Remove the coffee machine and newspapers if you want people to stare at the roof when they're not actively doing anything.

You're talking about trust and integrity here. Clearly, the TSA doesn't think highly of its own staff in this department.

Re:Who decides what is 'controversial opinion'? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803600)

Rasputin I suspect.

Re:Who decides what is 'controversial opinion'? (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804224)

The people writing the checques. Seems reasonable enough. Most businesses filter out content that is obviously completely irrelevant to work-related purposes (game-related sites, pr0n sites, etc), but will leave most other sites, even those with mostly obscene material in place, especially if it's hot news. Assuming that a topic is "controversial", by any definition, might indicate that the company simply doesn't want its employees making a post/opinion on the piece, possibly causing harm to the reputation of their employer.

Next, let's assume that the real issue at hand isn't that a topic is "controversial", but that the site being blocked doesn't seem to take the same stance on the matter as your employer. The fact that sites are being filtered strictly based on what would appear to be conflicting political bias on the parts of your employer and the site in question, seems rather silly.

So long as a site relays the basic facts unaltered, most (intelligent) readers can separate the facts from opinion; filtering out bias, personal annotations, etc along the way. If sites are being filtered by how favorably they report certain things, chances are that the desired effect by the employers is not being achieved, and it only highlights the bias of the company carrying out the blocking/censorship as well.

Just my two bits, but it just seems to be a pointless exercise unless the company simply just wants to prevent people from making post/comments that are out of line with the "official opinion" of the company's execs and causing undue embarrassment and hassle for public relations. A banker making a comment on interest rates and revealing his employer, even if the banker remains anonymous, can have damaging repercussions for the bank he/she works for. And if people are so offended by being only presented news that provides a one-sided skew on events, just wait until you get home to read it, or heaven forbid, we can all just form our own opinions on a subject. I'm pretty sure it's still legal in North America, though I've doubts as to how much that's encouraged by most politicians. :)

Damn you Bush!!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802802)

Why are you and Cheney keeping Obama (PBUH) from being inaugurated? Oh, how long must we wait??

Re:Damn you Bush!!! (0, Troll)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802892)

Yeah. Talk about a fucking let down.

But, to your typical Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, they're going to vote for the other guy who going to promise to "fix" the economy and of course "Oil spill. OIl spill. Obama's Karina" is what we'll hear until we vomit. Unless a miracle happens and things turn around next year, we'll probably see Obama booted out.

Re:Damn you Bush!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803012)

Garbage in, garbage out. If you voted for either of the two big parties, you asked for this. Remember, folks - the only truly "wasted" vote is one for a candidate you don't really like.

Uh. "In the work place" (3, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802830)

These people are being restricted from visiting certain websites from their job. These websites are not being stifled. This is something worthy of debate, sure.
But, this concerns me less than what was implied via the headline. Was it intentionally sensational? I know there's a character limit on headlines, but i refuse to believe that "employee access to" would be all that hard to fit.

Re:Uh. "In the work place" (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803162)

But I bet "work" is where TSA agents access the web the most, if not exclusively. This could seriously create a selective education within the TSA, allowing the agents to believe the exact opposite of what the rest of the population believes. About what? I don't know, but I'm sure we'll find out in 2011-2012.

Re:Uh. "In the work place" (3, Interesting)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803310)

But I bet "work" is where TSA agents access the web the most, if not exclusively.

What basis do you have for assuming that TSA agents don't have internet at home or smart phones? That seems like an absolutely bizarre assumption.

Re:Uh. "In the work place" (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803556)


This is something worthy of debate, sure.
But, this concerns me less than what was implied via the headline.

Huh? What's implied by the headline "TSA Internally Blocking Websites With 'Controversial Opinions'"? Looking through the discussion, it seems you're essentially manufacturing this confusion, since nobody is actually confused by the headline.

The article... (3, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802844)

lists things that any other corporation currently blocks, such as chat/messaging, pretty much any type of "entertainment" website.

Nothing really to see.

Re:The article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803052)

Nothing really to see.

Or as TSA would put it... Nothing to see here, comrade. Move along!

Ideas too Dangerous for the TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802880)

So if all it takes to destroy the Transportation Security Administration is a couple of controversial opinions, how secure is it really?

Do sword fights break out over differing opinions at the water cooler or what?

oh, please (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802884)

what is deemed 'controversial opinion' is not explained.

- I'll tell you what it is.

It is ANYTHING at all that somehow differs from the official party (government+big business including military industrial complex) line.

Any of you are following the outcomes of Michael Hastings story about Afghanistan, the story name is The Runaway General and it features opinions of people like Gen. Stanley McChrystal [rollingstone.com] ? You know, just the biggest Afghanistan story in US in the past 10 years? The story that questions everything, all of the assumptions the public holds in US and other places about what is happening in Afghanistan? Even a bigger story on the role of military in US politics and who really is in charge?

THAT is a 'controversial opinion', though it is not really an opinion, it is a story based on a bunch of facts. A story, which is written by a rare breed of journalist in USA of today - a real journalist, not a bullshit stenographer. Do you understand why the good general provided all of that information to a reporter? It's NOT because he is not media-savvy, after all in 2003 McChrystal was was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq, he IS media savvy.

One thing he learned about media is that when the military says: JUMP, the media JUMPS.

He was totally caught off-guard by an actual reporter, a journalist, who is really doing his job - watching the fuckers and reporting to the public - THAT is their job, not the propaganda bullshit that is fed to the public through the media by politicians, huge businesses and military day to day.

Almost all reporting outlets criticized Haysting for doing what they should have been doing - their fucking job.

So now we see this, TSA is blocking 'controversial opinions'. The President will have his bill and law and methods that will allow him to cut off pieces of the Internet. I fully expect /. to be blocked by TSA there, not that they would read this site anyway.

Land of the FREE, didn't you know? Now Freer than ever.

Re:oh, please (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802960)

Forgot to mention, I think the Runaway General is probably THE STORY of the Century, because as a side-effect it has brought up to light the positions that the reporting outfits, the 'journalists' are taking at this point in history.

Look at this piece of shit: Roy Exum [patriotpost.us] . Quote from the garbage he wrote there:

All of the old reporters knew that the unwritten code was one of confidentiality and, back then, those who broke it a time or two didn't ever last very long. Instead of the fun nights after practice, they wound up as some proof readers somewhere who never could figure out why suddenly they were going home to watch Ozzie and Harriett. ...
People who break the code hardly ever last and while Michael Hastings has a marvelous ability with words, his Waterloo will come when he finally realizes of all the hurdles he's faced, when a writer breaks the code the nib on his pen usually doesn't last much longer.

- this piece of shit, vomit inducing, diarrhea spewing fucker believe he is a journalist, a reporter.

Geraldo Rivera - the brown nosing dunce [mediaite.com] says about Hasting:

putting a rat in an eagle's nest,

- does anybody believe this is a journalist, a reporter who understands what his responsibilities are?

etc.etc.

Do not believe the official news channels, they are simply mouth pieces of those in power, they LIE, they LIE for living, they LIE for access, they do no reporting of truth, the stories the 'report' on are given to them by those in power for various political purposes, mostly as propaganda or 'damage control' pieces. These people are NOT doing any actual journalism and reporting, they do NOT question anything that those in power feed them.

Those are NOT controversial opinions and will not be blocked by the TSA.

Re:oh, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803146)

I think the Runaway General is probably THE STORY of the Century

Hyperbole much? You think it was a big deal, we get it.

Re:oh, please (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803242)

Whoever moded the parent comment as Flamebait is a nimrod, hates freedoms and takes form over function in the worst sense of the word.

Re:oh, please (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802990)

Michael Yon was writing about the McChrystal problem months ago and no one on the Left saw anything wrong until Rolling Stone printed what was basically a gossip piece. Problems with ROE and strategy were ignored......the only thing that is seen as important is that McChrystal (and staff) wasn't kissing Obama and Biden's asses.

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/ [michaelyon-online.com]

Re:oh, please (5, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803160)

You are so full of stinking shit. Hasting's piece is not about the McChrystal problem, it is much bigger than that, it is about the power struggle between military command and the politicians, or in fact what power struggle? The PR machine of the military is almost the same size as the State Department (something like 26thousand people vs 32thousand).

It is not about the General and in fact who gives a fuck if McChrystal kisses ass at all? It is about the fact that McChrystal himself does not believe Afghanistan is winnable, that military command does not believe it, that politicians should know it, that military expects the civilian politicians to jump to their words just as much as the current media does today, and they do, ffs. McChrystal did the SAME fucking thing when he leaked the story on needing more troops in Afghanistan, or more importantly, he wanted to force the hand of the President and he SUCCEEDED and he got his troops.

McChrystal should have been fired right THEN and THERE for getting into politics, for trying and in fact for setting policy rather than doing what he is told by the Chief.

Why am I speaking to you? I am not speaking to you, I am writing this for the rest of /. but your comment is bullshit.

Missing the point (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803254)

Asking whether McChrystal was an ineffective military leader in Afghanistan is no different than judging Marshall Sergei Sokolov when he commanded Russian forces there in the 80s. It completely misses the real question: why does anyone think military aggression in the middle east will reduce terrorism?

Michael's site perfectly encapsulates the sheer irony of the war. One needs only a little imagination to extract the following sentiment: "God bless you and our troops in the war against those islamic fascists!" As if a few billion dollars a month worth of destruction in order to force our way of life on the Afghan people isn't fascism...

Re:oh, please (1)

jofny (540291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803108)

I fully expect /. to be blocked by TSA there
Ionno - No one gave a crap that I looked at Slashdot when I worked there. Good job taking a poorly worded bureaucratic ass-covering and attributing Dan Brown levels of +eleventy-billion conspiracy powers to it. And feel free to jump to my website, resume, art site, whatever for a pretty decent counter-example to your a$$-hattery here.

//God, some people, they do need babysitters and soft walls.

Re:oh, please (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804186)

Oh no need. I think I've just witnessed a pretty standard example of the fine people skills people who work at the TSA often have.

Re:oh, please (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803460)

Which is absolutely besides the point. This is not a college. These people are not being paid to form an opinion. These people are largely being paid to complete a task.

Here is the problem. The TSA has contributed greatly to the US deficit, so we have to make sure it serves some purpose. We got along without for 200 years, and then all of the sudden we had to become a socialist state as we entered the 21st century. While I know that people have to work, and I have no issue with job programs, especially those like the TSA that really don't cost that much money in real terms(the indirect costs, however, are astronomical), I don't really see that the jobs in these jobs programs are reading the news blog. We already have people in the FBI and CIA that are paid to do that.

Re:oh, please (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804930)

I know its OT, but he could have spared the General his job. I don't consider the sensationalist, unsubstantiated style to be professional journalism:

The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs

Nope, nothing but the facts there.

Violates point of 1st Amendment (0, Flamebait)

PatPending (953482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802886)

The point of the 1st Amendment is to protect UNPOPULAR speech!.

What has happened to "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?"

And what has happened to the promise of the most open and transparent in history [whitehouse.gov] ?

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802936)

So somebody's free speech is being violated because a government agency doesn't want people reading Slashdot when they're supposed to be working? Are you utterly against workplaces trying to get their employees to not browse the web? Or just the government?

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803090)

So somebody's free speech is being violated because a government agency doesn't want people reading Slashdot when they're supposed to be working? Are you utterly against workplaces trying to get their employees to not browse the web? Or just the government?

I'm against a government bureaucrat or czar or whomever subjectively mandating what is 'controversial opinion.'

And why isn't the person (or persons) responsible for this explicitly identified, along with the criteria?

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803840)

That's very narrow view.

For example in my country we don't so much have Freedom of Speech but we have Freedom of Information.

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32804766)

Yeah but nobody gives a shit about your little country.

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (0, Troll)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802998)

The point of the 1st Amendment is to protect UNPOPULAR speech!.

What has happened to "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?"

And what has happened to the promise of the most open and transparent in history [whitehouse.gov] ?

I'm no supporter of the Obama Administration, but in this case, so what?

The government isn't banning what YOU can read. It's controlling what's on TSA workstations. Considering how much people screw off on company time (and in this case, it's taxpayer time), I'd just as soon see government agencies go back to dumb terminals for things like email and creating/editing documents, and take Internet access out of the equation completely. I work in aviation, and the vast majority of TSA employees are essentially beat cops... except their beat is your luggage. Most of them have no need for access to a computer at all.

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803026)

The 1st amendment isn't there to protect your right to reading web pages while you're supposed to be working. I'd rather see my tax dollars spent on work, rather than browsing slashdot. You can do that on your own time...

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

Snarkalicious (1589343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803048)

Can still be viewed from home, at the public library, via the hotspot from a 7 dollar-a-coffee shop and so on.

The people in charge of monitoring transportation have better things to do than cruise Free Republic or HuffPo on the tax-payer dime, anyhow.

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803106)

No one is preventing people from speaking as they please and publishing their opinions. They're blocking their employees from wasting time at work reading bullshit websites. As TSA employees are Government employees, and are therefor working on your dime, don't you at least want to get your money's worth out of them? Sure, it would probably be better if we didn't have them on the payroll anyway and just did away with the department as it's mostly political eyewash designed to make people feel safer rather than be safer, but that's another story all together. But hey, it's more fun to shout about fascist nazi communist censors, isn't it?

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803894)

They are not blocking their employees from reading bullshit websites.

They are blocking them from certain websites and the question is who is making the distinction and based on what?

Re:Violates point of 1st Amendment (1)

TouchAndGo (1799300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32805232)

Who really cares? Are you rallying against every corporate entity that decides what their employees can view on their work computers? Or is it a different standard because it's a government job?

They're fully within their rights to pick and choose what you can view on their computers.

Chem Trails!!!! (1)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802948)

Chem Trails!!!!

Re:Chem Trails!!!! (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804982)

I should mod you insightful!

Maybe it's not (3, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802966)

to stop the TSA officers watching, but to prevent TSA officers from posting anything "controversial". An unguarded post in a racially charged forum would be damaging.

Re:Maybe it's not (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803210)

That is usually part of the rationale for the inclusion of categories like "controversial" and "hate/violence" in institutional filterware. If somebody discovers posts from an employee, timestamped during working hours, somewhere legal-but-unsavory you have just entered the world of extremely embarrassing bad PR. This is true in corporate, and probably goes double(or more) for the TSA.

You block porn because it's a timesucker, because it has some cool malware, and because if that creepy guy in sales is masturbating audibly you are probably going to get a pile of harassment lawsuits.

You block personals/dating/facebook/myspace/etc. because they are massive timesuckers(and for a broader demographic than porn) and can inject an extra dose of ghastly interpersonal drama if you aren't lucky.

Gambling, again, timesucker/malware.

Can you imagine the hell that some bumbling middle-manager would be made to pay if some TSA flunky turned out to be posting on stormfront.org or revolutionmuslim.com during working hours? It would be an utter no-win. Porn, at least, is treated as a basically apolitical symptom of waste and incompetence. Having to say, with a straight face, that the "racial realists" on staff definitely aren't contributing to an even more hostile flying atmosphere for anybody darker than hitler; or attempting to claim that that yours must be the friendly and apolitical islam enthusiasts would be difficult and probably career-limiting. Given the size, and low standards, of the TSA, it is pretty much 100% that there is at least one of each(though probably skewed a bit toward the "shallow end of the white supremacist gene pool, which is why I'm dressed as a rentacop and harassing people about carry-on liquids" side). I'm wholly unsurprised that TSA management doesn't want anything politically embarrassing to happen during work hours.

Not controversial at all (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802972)

Shame on TSA for leaving "controversial opinion" up to the imagination, but the move itself - especially the rest of it - is not controversial at all. I say "bravo" to taxpayer dollars not paying for somebody at the TSA to surf porn or gamble online all day. Look at it this way: If the TSA did not enforce an acceptable use policy, we would in short order be reading sensationalized stories about gross negligence and waste of taxpayer money. People would be outraged about that, too, and justifiably so.

Attention media outlets regarding your cake: 1. Have it. 2. Eat it. - Choose only one.

Hey, it's their computers, their network... (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802988)

...surf anything you want on your own time on your own computer.

Re:Hey, it's their computers, their network... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803304)

Well, if I was US citizen I would claim it's MY computer (since I would have paid for it). And if MY computer selectively filters some political messages while leaving others unfiltered I might have a little problem with it.

But hey, it's not my government... although sometimes I wonder how stupid folks are at your side of the pond.

Wha? (1)

headhot (137860) | more than 4 years ago | (#32802994)

TSA agents can read?

Re:Wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803122)

My thought exactly. I assumed they used defrosted Cro-Magnon slaves [sockheads.org] for most of their staffing needs. :)

Video in second link (2)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803008)

Did anyone watch the video attached to the second link?

I can attest to some of the attitudes by the TSA. I got the dreaded 'SSSS' on my boarding pass once and I had to fly - if I were a terrorist, i would have just walked out, but I guess that never occurred to the TSA or I'm goddamned brilliant and the President should make me the head of the HMS. Anyway, TSA agent orders me into this clear plastic 3 sided booth. What I was in there for I don't know. Now, said booth acts like a big ear. Meaning, every noise in the airport was amplified by that damn thing so I had a hard time hearing and I'm freaking out as to why I'm in this booth. Said TSA agent says something to me and I don't move and make a gesture that I can't hear. She then throws a huge hissy fit and starts screaming at me.

Second thing. In the video, the TSA says that "only" 110,000 people complained about the backscatter x-ray out of the millions that fly. I immediately thought of Catbert in the Dilbert cartoons.

I'm sure any complaints were either ignored and other people are just too scared to complain for fear of retribution from the TSA.

The TSA says there isn't any of that sort of thing, but their credibility isn't all that great..

Re:Video in second link (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803370)

I got the dreaded 'SSSS' on my boarding pass once and I had to fly

I got one of those one time too, but I knew exactly why. My mom was pretty much on her deathbed and I bought a ticket at the airport a couple of hours before boarding.

Easy enough to figure out, but I realize not all cases are as easy to know.

Did you find out why you were given that type of boarding pass? You could have asked before you ever hit security and probably been prepared for what would happen. And they most likely would have told you the reason.

Look on the bright side: if you ever get another "SSSS" boarding pass, you'll know more or less what to expect.

As far as the x-rays go... let 'em have at it, as far as I'm concerned. If they get their jollies out of looking at my blurry junk, oh well. It's a human body. *shrug*

By the sound of it... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803018)

The TSA just implemented some off-the-shelf web filtering proxy product, presumably to try to claw back some productivity from their ill-trained, ill-motivated, and generally unimpressive staff.

That list of bland, boilerplate categories just screams "generic-filterware". I'm not 100% positive which; but it sounds a lot like websense.

Don't get me wrong, the TSA is a boil on the ass of the body politic; but the fact that their cube drones are now being subjected to the same online annoyances as cube drones in thousands of other corporate, educational, and government setups strikes me as a matter of absolutely no relevance to my rights(except in that, if the TSA employees are forced to do less porn surfing, they might get some work done, and their work would probably damage my rights somehow).

Re:By the sound of it... (1)

lavagolemking (1352431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803204)

(except in that, if the TSA employees are forced to do less porn surfing, they might get some work done, and their work would probably damage my rights somehow)

Or they'll just look more even thoroughly through people's belongings to get a better "glimpse" at travelers' underwear.

Re:By the sound of it... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803294)

"Nine times out of ten it's an electric razor, but every once in a while... it's a dildo. Of course it's company policy never to, imply ownership in the event of a dildo... always use the indefinite article a dildo, never your dildo."

Re:By the sound of it... (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803218)

(except in that, if the TSA employees are forced to do less porn surfing, they might get some work done, and their work would probably damage my rights somehow).

TSA employees get mandated free porn surfing at work now that they have full body scanners.

So what? (1)

cts5678 (1383735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803028)

If it's not work-related, they don't need to be going there, same as at my non-governmental job. Lame.

Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803216)

They're blocking the sites of shampoo manufacturers and their products.

3 oz. or less, because the terrorists hate us for our soft, manageable hair.

This is "Stuff that matters" ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803288)

Sorry for the anon - tried to login and the server keeps puking.

Wow, this is one of the worst bits of strawman I've seen in a while. OP -1 mod for Flamebait..

Now we need a new HTTP Status code (1)

merc (115854) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803436)

418 Controversial content

The characteristics of the content have been determined to be too controversial.

Blocking sites hmm... (1)

LittlePud (1356157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803438)

Is Bruce Scheiner's blog on the blocked list?

FUCK THE TSA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803672)

FUCK THE TSA!

Interesting what's not on the list. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32803794)

Things like surfing for porn, goofing off, generally wasting taxpayer time, and so on are not on the list. So that's still allowed?

Not entirely surprising, that. But altough, as other people have pointed out, as a work organisation it's not unreasonable to block some things for employees on the premises they can bloody well do that at home, (at least in some circles; elsewhere the employees would scream bloody murder and in fact all the places I've worked so far had no internet filtering technology whatsoever), I think that this list is very curious. But if you think about it, it stands to reason, as far as the TSA does, anyway.

The TSA is basically an organisation of goons federalised and made unfirable, doing a lot of objectionable and controversial things in the name of security, and now internally taking anything the boss might not like and sticking their electronic fingers in their ears, having their equipment go "I can't HEAR you!" by blocking access to sites that don't toe the party line. It's a rather sneaky and subversive variant of the old police or bureaucratic power abuse shtick: This time it's built right into the infrastructure.

I can't tell you what part I find the most worrisome. That Obama hasn't kicked them all out or right into federal prison yet? You'd think he could.

well (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803802)

I'd argue that much of what the TSA does is rather controversial. Are they blocking their own websites?

Read TFA (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#32803968)

The point is not about controlling access to controversial opinions, it's about controlling access to things that people tend to waste a lot of time on.

The categories being blocked are:
  Chat/Messaging
  Controversial opinion
  Criminal activity
  Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
  Gaming

I'll take a Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious for $500, Alex.

(The answer is, "They're busy playing around on the web at work.")

That would be "Why hasn't the TSA caught many bad guys," Alex.

As to why CBS felt it needed to focus on the 'controversial opinion' point, it's probably because they thought they'd get more attention going with the censorship slant rather than the wasting-billions-of-dollars-playing-games slant. But once it's in context, the responses probably fall into the 'you mean they haven't yet?' and 'well, DUH!' categories. And as far as 'obtaining an internal email' there's a whole lot of TSABroadcast publically available on the web. It's almost certainly the channel of choice for 'All Employees' traffic such as TFA.

Hey! If you work for the TSA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32804098)

Someone find out if http://www.schneier.com [schneier.com] is blocked there !

Mr. Schneier is a security consultant who has been an outspoken critic of many of the TSA's policies, calling them "security theatre". I'd bet ten bucks that the TSA has censored his blog for their employees.

Also in the article (1)

bkgood (986474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804166)

A 2006 investigation by the Discover America Partnership found that tourism to America had sunk due to “a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers from visiting the United States and damaging America’s image abroad.” No less than a third of tourists vowed never to return to America after experiencing the treatment of Homeland Security officials at ports of entry.

Indeed, it's bad enough as a citizen; I can't begin to imagine how it is as a foreigner. On returning from vacation from Montreal (flew as I live in the midwest), I couldn't believe the amount of grief the woman at border patrol was giving me. I'm an American citizen, I'm innocent until proven guilty and I certainly can't be compelled to incriminate myself, so stop treating me like a criminal. Of course, if I were to mention any of that, I'd immediately be further probed, so I was polite and answered her questions. Some beacon-of-freedom country this is, and electing the so-called man and party of change to power hasn't seemed to help.
Anyway, it was bad for me, as an American citizen. I completely understand when friends abroad hesitate to come to the US.

Re:Also in the article (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32805238)

I couldn't believe the amount of grief the woman at border patrol was giving me. I'm an American citizen...

Just out of curiosity, what kind of grief did she give you? At least in my experience, I've gotten grief going into many different places in Europe, as well as grief on return to the US. Probably the worst was both leaving South Africa (their customs pulled me out of line due to something they saw in the luggage scan - yep, the enameled ostrich egg we all seem to want to bring back home!), as well as entry into the US (I had a hard time convincing them that I did *not* go on a safari and really did spend my whole time on a beach in Cape Town).

On the other hand, I've also breezed through customs in the same places with some excellent agents. I chalk it up to a bad day for the customs agent and just deal with it. It's over soon enough.

Alex Jones is a nutjob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32804208)

I'm an IT geek who is also an open carrier, my side arm is open carried in a holster, and can tell you Alex Jones is a complete nutjob. Nobody in the firearms community likes the guy's opinions or site. Take some time to read the site, he is a fear mongering idiot. "VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM! WE'RE UNDER 1984 CONTROLS!!! TIN FOIL HAT!!"

The editors should've done their job and at least looked at who the article was sourcing, Alex Jones is not a credible source.

Almost certainly overblown (1)

eyrieowl (881195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32804518)

The list in the memo sounds a lot like (although not exactly the same as) Websense categories. My guess is the folks at TSA aren't deciding what "controversial opinion" is, but are delegating that to some company they've contracted their web-filtering to. And my guess is that it would be the category which contains things like websites associated with KKK, Aryan Nation, ALF, and other groups with extreme positions. I could be wrong, of course, but I doubt it's much different than what nearly any major corporation is doing that has signed up for some web-filtering service.

Of course, the credibility of the summary is GREATLY diminished by referencing Alex Jones's conspiracy-mongering website.

So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32805090)

They made a career out of minor but annoying liberty-infringements for an organization that was built on desperate, paranoid hand waving and find themselves subjected to minor but annoying liberty-infringements invented out of desperate, paranoid hand waving.

Where did I leave that little violin..?

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