March 22, 2009, - 9:44 pm

How I Got My Site UnBlocked From Lib Computer Co. Execs: Pls. Let Me Know If Your Company/Agency Blocks DebbieSchlussel.com

By Debbie Schlussel
**** UPDATE, 03/23/09: DebbieSchlussel.com still being blocked ****
**** CORRECTION: I originally noted the company blocking my site as “Smart Computing.” It is Secure Computing. Not sure why I had “Smart” on my mind, since the original move to block my site wasn’t smart, just obnoxious. ****
A couple of readers told me my site was blocked at their respective hotel and employer within the last month. But in the last few days, a ton of readers have let me know that this site, DebbieSchlussel.com, was being blocked by their employer with the designation “hate/discrimination.” The same thing happened to readers from the Veterans Administration, General Motors, Wachovia, Hilton/Hampton Suites, etc., when they tried to access this site.
I learned, today, via this article, that my site was being blocked by McAfee’s Secure Computing TrustedSource product.

pc2.jpg

I contacted the in-house PR person from Secure Computing, who answered her cellphone (which was not designated as such on the company’s website). She was initially upset I called on her cellphone and said this was the first she’d heard of this problem. At first, she incorrectly blamed the individual companies for my site being blocked “because they don’t want their employees online during work.” But that’s not the case, I pointed out, since other sites with similar content were not, in fact, blocked at their workplaces. She asked me to write her an e-mail. I sent the e-mail below, and presto-change-o, I heard back from both the PR person and McAfee’s Director of Web Security Research (McAfee owns Secure Computing).
I learned from them that apparently a Secure Computing executive (whom I believe was referred to with female pronouns) manually changed the benign designation of “Politics/Opinion” on both DebbieSchlussel.com and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs to “Hate/Discrimination” on March 18th, which is the reason many of you have been unable to access my site since then at companies which filter out sites so designated by TrustedSource.
Yes, some liberal, apparently biased McAfee/Secure Computing exec used her own personal political bias–or that of someone who contacted her–to sabotage my site and Pamela’s and censor us. Not such a “Trusted Source” after all, is it? Yes, we are in a day and age where the left cannot control the internet, so they try to censor out what they don’t want you to read.
Fortunately, the McAfee people say that because of my call and e-mail (again, they say they only heard from me and this is the first they knew of this), they have reversed the designation and labeled our sites, “Politics/Opinion.” The McAfee web security person apologized repeatedly, to her credit.
Please e-mail me and let me know whether or not you can access this site now from work (if you cannot, you are obviously reading and e-mailing me later in the day from home). Please also let me know at which company you work. Your e-mails will be confidential. This is important because some companies use different programs, and I want to tackle all of them.
I’m told that they are meeting tomorrow to discuss how to stop one person from censoring out websites in the future, as was done to me and my site in this case. I’m also told, though, that the re-designation of my site to “Politics/Opinion” is not permanent, as two others need to review it and agree. Let’s hope they are objective and not knee-jerk liberals (or pan-Islamists) in doing so. They said they will let me know their final decision and why. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, please read this e-mail below, which I sent to get this outrageous decision reversed. (Please also note that the McAfee people claim that Gateway Pundit was never labeled as “Hate/Discrimination” and thus wasn’t subject to the censorship that I was.)
We must remain vigilant on this issue as traffic is the lifeblood of websites, including this one.
***

From: Debbie Schlussel writedebbie@gmail.com
Date: Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 3:55 PM
Subject: Secure Computing’s Designation of my Site as “Hate/Discrimination” . . .
To: ally_zwahlen@securecomputing.com
Ms. Zwahlen:
Pursuant to our conversation, today, your company and it’s “TrustedSource” product have designated my conservative political website, http://www.debbieschlussel.com, as “Hate/Discrimination,” which has led many of my readers in the past few days to note that their employer has blocked my site because of your designation and your products. I have thousands of readers a day, and I have learned that my site as well as two other sites with several thousand readers, Atlas Shrugs and Gateway Pundit, are also similarly and inaccurately designated at “hate/discrimination” by your company and its products, leading companies that use your products to block our sites.
Our sites are not hate/discrimination sites, and we hope we don’t have to take this much farther. However, if this situation is not resolved to our satisfaction, we will, and we will be forced to report on this on our sites and list the Fortune 500 companies and government agencies that use your biased designations of websites with which someone at your company who doesn’t like our politics has chosen to sabotage us. I hope you will get to the bottom of this and resolve it, rather than continuing to give me the false and untrue excuse that this lies with the companies that use your product. This lies with your company and its designation of our sites as hate/discrimination. If that designation were removed, there would be no problem accessing our sites. For now, my site is now blocked from General Motors, Wachovia, the Veterans Administration, Hilton/Hampton Suites Hotels. All of these companies have told those who’ve inquired that they block out sites your company’s TrustedSource notes as “hate/discrimination” and “racism,” neither of which describe my site at all.
Here are the details on what your company is doing and why the blame lies directly with you. This article lists the sites your designation has been bestowed upon and why we are now blocked.
http://usabig.com/atnmst/jrnl_ii.php?art=29
Please note that I am a practicing attorney, licensed in the State of Michigan. Should I have to pursue further action in this matter, I would do so in Michigan, as your company’s software and improper designation of my site has taken place at the Michigan offices of General Motors, among others. Your designation of my site as “hate/discrimination” interferes with my relationship with my customers and readers and has harmed me significantly with tremendous damages.
I look forward to your prompt response and resolution of this matter to my satisfaction, which means the removal of “hate/discrimination” and/or “racism” designations of my site and the use of the “Politics/Opinion, Blogs/Wiki,” which your company has designated other sites with the same content and opinions as my own.
Again, please let me know when my site is re-designated in a proper, accurate, and benign manner, and/or what action you and your company intend to take. This is a potential public relations nightmare for your company that you have the opportunity to quickly resolve.
Thank you,
Debbie Schlussel


Here are the responses
:

From: Zwahlen,Ally Ally_Zwahlen@securecomputing.com
Date: Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 8:11 PM
Subject: Re: Secure Computing’s Designation of my Site as “Hate/Discrimination” . . .
To: writedebbie@gmail.com
I’m looking into this now…I have technical team members on this tonight.

***

From: Zwahlen,Ally Ally_Zwahlen@securecomputing.com
Date: Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 8:13 PM
Subject: Re: Secure Computing’s Designation of my Site as “Hate/Discrimination” . . .
To: writedebbie@gmail.com
Can you give me a phone number? One of our technical team members will call you to work this out.

***

From: Zwahlen,Ally Ally_Zwahlen@securecomputing.com
Date: Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 8:44 PM
Subject: RE: Secure Computing’s Designation of my Site as “Hate/Discrimination” . . .
To: Debbie Schlussel writedebbie@gmail.com
Debbie,
[Name redacted] (technical manager) and I will be calling you in a few minutes . . . conferencing her in.
Ally Zwahlen
Director, Public Relations
McAfee, Inc.
925.207.4573 Direct
ally_zwahlen@securecomputing.com

Thanks to Ally Zwahlen for getting right on this, especially on a Sunday, and to her Director of Web Security, who asked that her name not be made public.

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11 Responses

That is truly scary that a couple of employees can decide that a political site can be labeled “hate” if it does not jibe with their liberal political opinions.
What power! BTW, I wonder how many of these employees are of the religion of peace, and anyone who disagrees can be censored for “hate.” It is sharia law coming to the internet.

Gabe on March 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Computer security software is legitimately used to filter out viruses, malware, spam and pornographic content. But now we know it has a dark side – in the hands of certain persons, it can be used to censor content they don’t want others to access. That’s where vigilance is important and two Jewish women (Pamela Geller and Debbie Schlussel) were just the first targets. A test run? We know if it isn’t stopped, it will continue to spread. That can’t be allowed to happen.

NormanF on March 22, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Ms Schlussel: Good for you! Hooray! If you don’t use it (freedom to speak up and threaten legal action) you will lose it. Love your gutsy approach. Please keep it up for all of us! You did the work that many others simply cannot or will not do! Kudos from the bottom of my heart! Hate site, indeed: And they probably have NEVER blocked Huffpo.. or K*s!

gunjam on March 22, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Good for you!
That having been said, there are workplaces that will block this site because it is “Politics/Opinion” (They don’t want their employees to be spending time “surfing the net”). However that is a legitimate business decision based on actual facts and the way a boss wants to run his business.

i_am_me on March 22, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I know quite a few people from the knitting chat group Ravelry who know exactly how you feel. I sent you a personal email with the details. Ravelry used similar excuses.

mplumb on March 22, 2009 at 11:54 pm

scary thought-to think that you could be blocked because of bias.

mindy1 on March 23, 2009 at 6:58 am

MY SITE used to be banned from schools, probably still is, but THAT is to be expected since i’m usually PG-13 or harder!
The best thing though is that the former CEO of Goldman Sachs MUST be reading my stuff…hence his aside comment that the Post Office cannot do SIMPLE BANKING!!!

EminemsRevenge on March 23, 2009 at 7:41 am

I have not had any problems accessing your website, even at work.
I’m a “Liberal” but that does not prevent me from enjoying your interesting takes on current events, nor would I ever support anyone’s attempt at taking away your First Ammendment Rights.

trewsdetroit on March 23, 2009 at 7:42 am

I may use the pc at the public library later this week, I’ll try to pull up your site there and see what happens.

Tempus Fugit on March 23, 2009 at 9:22 am

I don’t know about Gateway Pundit but isn’t targeting Debbie Schlussel and Atalsshrugs sites discriminatory? Atalsshrugs has been characetrized (by some) as “pro-Jewish.”
Perhaps Ms. Zwhalen and her employer have some prejudices. Just a thought….

crazycatkids on March 23, 2009 at 10:31 am

as of 23 March 2009, KBR has your site blocked also. Fortunately, I have access to private internet that does not block speech that was specifically intended by our Founding Fathers to be unfettered

firedawg55 on March 24, 2009 at 5:00 am

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