Kohl's greeter (courtesystardem.com)

TTAG reader Mike writes:

“I was roped into taking my wife to our local (central Florida) Kohls department store today. While my wife shopped I searched for and ultimately found a cozy spot and proceeded to fire up my laptop. My first internet stop was TTAG of course. What??? Can’t be!!! Your TTAG domain is blocked on Kohls’ complimentary Wi-Fi due to gun content. My waiting time was ruined. Yet another reason to despise Kohls. Just thought I would pass this info along in case one of your wordsmiths gets bored.” Many public Internet providers have a blanket policy blocking “weapons-related” websites, including TTAG. If you come across a ban, please email the provider a polite protest. [Cut and paste version after the jump.] It’s not about our bottom line; the bans don’t have a significant impact on our readership stats. It’s about your gun rights. Thank you . . .

Dear XXXXX,

I recently attempted to access the website www.thetruthaboutguns.com at XXXXX while using your free Internet service. Your service blocked access to this site.

The Truth About Guns (TTAG) is a pro-Second Amendment website exploring the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns. It does NOT encourage or enable any illegal activity. As people who do not wish to read TTAG will not enter it into their browser, there is no good reason to block this website.

I respectfully request that you reconsider your blanket ban on and allow users to access www.thetruthaboutguns.com and all other pro-Second Amendment websites at XXXX. If you can’t honor this request, I would appreciate an official explanation for this decision.

Thank you for your consideration.

XXXX

108 Responses to Housekeeping: Please Send a Polite Email to TTAG Blockers

    • They were blocked on government computers when I was in Iraq. I tried to look for a different holster for my M9 as the one I deployed with was not cutting it. Instead of ordering it online I went to the market on Liberty and found a shoulder holster than got me through the deployment. i thought it was stupid that we could shoot bad people in the face, but I couldn’t look at guns and gun accessories. There is no reason to block that kind of content.

        • An excellent point.

          Search Google for terms like “Disable Internet Filtering Software ”

          Use a browser like Firefox that let you install Proxy addons, in a nutshell, you will be accessing the web from a website that is not on the block list.

          Find a local teenager to show you. Preferably male, tell him you need to access porn sites on a computer using a blocker like Net Nanny.

          The best bet for him would be to read TTAG from its web page. Bookmark – https://www.facebook.com/thetruthaboutguns

          You can read and comment on TTAG there.

    • Happened to me last time I was at a Kaiser Permanente clinic.

      Oddly, they didn’t block other major gun-related websites. Nor do they ban carrying on premises-yet.

    • How silly can these people get? VERY! Back in the day I used to have users who jobs needed them to go to overseas newspaper, magazine and TV web sites in foreign lands that we happened to be piqued at, and hence were blocked. I got into some extremely heated “discussions” with the droids that maintained the firewall block lists. UPSIDE: I was able to invoke the War Powers Act on one jerk. That felt genuinely good.

  1. Why would anyone buy anything at Kohl’s when they can buy the same crappy Chinese-made private label products from a street vendor for half the price, with nicer ambiance?

    • I do most of my shopping on-line from home while switching back and forth on TTAG, not a problem for me.

      Why would anybody buy from street vendors OR sticks & bricks stores
      for discretionary items anyway?

      • In many cases you actually do need to look at the item (and not just a picture of it) before deciding whether to buy it. I’ve been known to crack a box open and look at the instruction manual to try to determine wither something I was looking at would actually do what I wanted it to do. (Admittedly that’s often fairly easy to do online.)

    • I miss Mervyn’s! Could go shopping there 2x/year; underoos, socks, tees, polos, dockers and Levis, plus the occasional white oxford shirt. Life was simple, and life was good.

  2. A lot of places use a third party service to provide public WiFi in their stores. They probably just pay for a standard package and don’t really bother to see what’s being blocked.

  3. Assuming I do choose to try and broaden your blog’s reach by dealing with the mess that is corporate bureaucracy; how much of a cut can I expect when you sell TTAG to move on to the next “The Truth About _______” venture.

  4. I have managed content blocking solutions for years, it is not as cut and dry as it is made out to be.
    Blocking the terrorists online magazine vs ttag will require individual intervention.

    We need to know what solution the place used for their content filter first, to figure out if ttag got mis-tagged or if it is bad policy by the business.

    Was it Websense? Trendmicro?

  5. The letter should probably be a bit more forceful.
    If I ever catch a business with blanket domain blocks, I will stop going there permanently and write them a letter explaining why. Make sure they know that you are voting with your money, and not just complaining.
    The internet is not something to pick and choose what your customers want to use it for. Any attempt at censoring the internet within an establishment is unacceptable in my mind.

    • The web access is not free. It’s included in the price of the goods that the retailer sells. The air conditioning isn’t free either. Nor is the lighting.

      Any time you buy something at a store, you are paying for the web access, just like you pay for the A/C and the lights. And yet, the store blocks paying customers from accessing something that they paid for.

      • Far as I can tell, the places that offer free WIFI don’t differentiate between paying customers and freeloading squatters.

        • You only pay if you buy. This is a strange concept to you?

          The cost of everything is in the price of the goods. It doesn’t matter how many “freeloaders” there are.

  6. If Im ever in a business that knowingly blocks web sites.
    Especially gun related.
    If I cant use their Wi-Fi to access my 1st amendment right to read what I wish to read.
    Then I will take my business elsewhere

  7. I had this happen to me at a mall. They also had a no guns policy sign posted at the entry points. My wife wanted to get some makeup so I carried concealed anyways as the law at this particular location doesn’t recognize signs. Needless to say I won’t be going back to that particular mall again.

  8. The company I work for is based in Chicago and blocks every gun site I frequent except for some reason TTAG gets through. Hope the net nanny’s continue to remain clueless.

  9. Not that this helps gun rights, but if you find yourself it that sort of position, use some encryption. A very easy thing to do is download StartPage. Its just an encrypted browser that uses google searches. Not going to protect you from the NSA, but it will get you around firewalls and keep your service provider from seeing what you do online.

    • It’s not free. The cost is included in the price of goods purchased by the consumers. Just like the lighting, the rent and everything else.

      • Exactly. Don’t forget insurances, taxes and LABOR, think minimum wage. These cost factors are why your $$s don’t buy as much as back when. And it’s exponential because each stage of adding value faces these costs. The actual product you by is becoming less and less of a factor.

        • I would say that quantitative easing/inflation is why your $$ doesn’t buy as much as it used to. Operating costs are pretty insignificant per customer in comparison.

          Also, I would contest that if you are at a store with someone else and not shopping, these things are indeed free for you.

        • @ Josh

          I’ve been operating a retail space for the past 25 years. Is your comment experience or conjecture? Yes counterfeiting causes too many dollars chasing too few goods which is why the minimum wage “crisis” a symptom as opposed to a problem in it’s self. But taxes and insurance obligations along with freight costs have risen way beyond even actual inflation, not just the massaged government CPI fantasy.

        • “Operating costs are pretty insignificant per customer in comparison. ”

          Yeah, Josh. Tell that to anyone who has ever actually run an enterprise before.

  10. I would also advise you all to head on over to the Mom’s Demand Action facebook page. After a few protests of them banning and deleting dissenting comments they seem to be allowing these comments now. If you have to create a new account, it only takes a minute with a disposable email address. I recomend…
    http://maildrop.cc
    Head on over there and refute some of the lies that they are spreading. Be polite and respectful but give them a good dose of facts and reality.

  11. I think Ill go to Kohls while conceal carrying and see if I can get on gunbot or ammoseek and buy some Corbon DPX this week for sh*ts and giggles…..

    • Krogers? Last I checked Kroger’s was still on our side. Are you getting Kohl’s, the department store, mixed up with Kroger’s the grocery store? Yes, MDA is briefly allowing comments for some strange reason. I hope some will take advantage to maybe sway some to the gun rights side. Logically, factually, and respectfully of course.

      Edit to add..

      I apologize. I reread your comment and understood. I guess I jumped the gun, so to speak, lol. I’m sorry.

  12. My work does the same thing. I cannot navigate directly to TTAG. However, I found that I can log into my Facebook account, and view TTAG articles that post to my timeline.

  13. Not sure I could complain about site blocking on freely provided wifi. Annoying, yes, but your not really entitled to anything when its free. Hotel wifi would be a different story. Solution: Mobile Data Plan. That’s how I keep up with TTAG while at work.

    • True but you aren’t entitled to anything at a hotel wifi either. They are a private buisness and have every right to determine what content goes through their routers. Like it or not. That is why people should educate themselves about getting around these filters if they want to recieve content while on a network owned by others. Or else refrain from it until they get home. I personally go for the former. Considering that free speech is a concept that all should respect whether they like it or not, especially on the internet. However, I also respect the rights of property owners which is a bit of a conundrum.

      That is why I favor the former. What asshats don’t know cannot hurt them.

  14. At my hospital’s wifi I can access any site via wifi on my iPhone, but when I go to browse the net on my work computer “weapons” pages like TTAG are blocked. Oddly though, TheBangSwitch is the ONLY gun blog NOT blocked… Amazon.com and even Victoria’s Secret are open, yet Sport’s Illustrated is blocked.

  15. While I do not like website blocking (I deal with it at work) I find it more strange that someone would take a laptop with them to go shopping.

  16. You can go to http://www.proxpn.com and or 60 a year, (half off with coupon code FTL50). Using this on your tablet, phone, or laptop not only secures your data, but a IP provider like Khol’s will have no clue what website you are going on.

    When my wife was in labor, I couldn’t check TTAG on Oakwood Hospitals wifi, but I turned on ProXPN and then I could.

    Something to consider.

    • You obviously have difficulties with reading comprehension…..The TTAG reader “Mike” was not shopping!!! To us old married guys……he was just engaged in the honored activity of,
      WAITING ON A WOMAN……..

  17. I finally figured out today that the reason I have had so much difficulty in loading this site, posting comments (site stalling, typing not appearing, etc.) was because I was using IE8. Firefox has finally returned me to the service I should be getting. So either this site is incompatible with IE8, or IE doesn’t like TTAG.

  18. Hospitals which provide wifi in PA block websites with “gun” in the title/name. Talked with and administrator assistant at one in Pittsburgh and he said it is a service package issue, they don’t directly block anything. He then showed me how to go around it. Nice guy.

  19. Yes, because their IT team individually combed through every single website known to man and manually blocked each one according to the content.

    This stuff is automatic people, a firewall without a brain blocked TTAG based on keywords and a third party/corporate decided to block categories based on the usual standards, it’s not always a damned conspiracy.

    • Actually it is a conspiracy, of like minded individuals in the IT industry, otherwise “gun” would not be a major component of such firewalls. Just sayin’.

  20. I am responding right now from The Peoples Republic of China, specifically from Tibet, where for the past several days I have never been blocked from this site. Think about it.

      • The “Great Wall” firewall is not a problem to circumvent.

        I have family in China, they have no internet access problems.

        Then again, I don’t think they make searches for the Falun Gong.

        • My point is, in China, if you are not skilled at evading government controls and restrictions your internet experience is less than “free flowing”, and if you complain about it you are likely to get a 0:darkthirty visit from the political constabulary. In America when you complain about blocking of webpages by a private entity the worst that will happen is you will be ignored.

        • Yes, I am confident those who most need discreet access is China are able to get it, most likely helped by the youth who know how.

          The not so smart ones end up like child porn scum that regularly seem to pop up in the local paper in handcuffs.

        • Best part is that Chinese government, in forcing people to circumvent their controls, is creating the very underground which they are terrified will undermine their authority and bring about the next “revolution”. Totalitarians can not grasp that their own actions bring about their downfall. Though, what replaces them may well be no better, and just might be far, far worse.

    • You don’t seem to understand what’s happening in this article. No Americans are being blocked from TTAG. One business is choosing not to provide TTAG to devices on its private connection. In America this is completely acceptable because it is data over private property. I know this is strange because there is no chinese word for “private property”, and “choice” but trust me, I have been to your country. Nothing here, in America, is that bad.

  21. You can answer that question for yourself. My point being in a place where firearms are not accessible to the public, and a place where restrictions are placed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to name just a few. I still get access to TTAG. What does that say to you about those who restrict access to it in the US???

    • Being restricted from a website by a content filter on a PRIVATE BUSINESS’s wifi connection is MUCH different then the Chinese Communist Party’s censoring of the internet. I have traveled in China, including to Lhasa Tibet, to study their government’s censorship. The key difference is GOVERNMENT. TTAG is still available to all Americans over just about every other connection even smart phones, just not over Kohl’s wifi. The content is blocked between service provider and the end user by the distributer (Kohl’s Wifi). When a website is censored in China… You wouldn’t even know it was censored because all web traffic to it is blocked before the content even gets to the Internet Service Provider. Don’t compare China and America. Until you have been out of the blanket of Chinese Government censorship you have no idea how bad it really its. Nothing in America comes close. And certainly not similar to ONE business blocking content over its private internet.

    • Tells me your provider is not buying their internet services from the same companies hospitals, malls and restaurants in America are. Is the service provider you are using Chinese government run, or is it from outside China? Is it perhaps European or Aussie? Maybe American? Indian? Change provider and you may find TTAG and other firearms/guns related content blocked. Lots of variables in this.

  22. Wait wait wait…
    You were on private property, trying to use a private internet connection and the owner of that connection denied you access to some page?

    I hate to point this out but your rights were NOT infringed on.
    Kohl’s has the right, just as any one would, to deny content over its private connection on its private property. They disagree with you (us) and that’s completely their choice and right. America (and TTAG) should be about freedom, even the freedom to disagree. Let’s not turn into MDA and start badgering by-standing businesses because “they have to conform with our beliefs (Look at this baby!)” If they don’t want to serve you that content, that’s their choice. There is likely a great work around carried already in your pocket, in the form of the data connection on your smart phone. They cannot block your connection, carry your own data that you “control” (Yes, I realize the phone company serves that connection but cell providers and rights is a different conversation).
    The last time I was at my doctor’s office I looked through the magazines and there were no Playboys. No matter how upset I was about it I didn’t complain to the nurse and cancel my appointment because, it’s their office’s right to deny some freedom of speech on their property. Let this be a forum for championing rights and freedom. Kohl’s is free to disagree with you. You are free to check TTAG over 4G on your smartphone even in their stores. Weather you pay for it or not it’s their wifi and they have the right to monitor it’s traffic and content. Just like we all have the right to keep MDA from searching all our houses for guns. I have been in many places where I couldn’t check TTAG over wifi, such as one hospital (oddly enough because it was a catholic hospital because upon visiting a non-demoninational hospital i found TTAG not blocked). Get over it. Check it on your cell data. The core of tyranny is expecting that everyone should be forced to agree with you. That’s also the core belief of MDA.

    Don’t become a tyrant in your quest to protect freedom.

    • You appear to be missing the point, entirely. RF is asking his readers to ask service providers to not block content based on words in that content’s title/description/web address. He is not calling for anybody’s business to be shut down or anyone to be jailed.

  23. Point being, in what is considered one of the more restrictive environs, TTAG is not blocked. But some diddly little hospital where I may have to frequent based on geography or treatment options can restrict my access to information that I deem important to me and you still call that freedom. As a consenting adult I, and no one else should have the authority to choose my sources of information. Anything less is not freedom. I live in a free country that respects my rights. Where do you live???

    • “I live in a free country that respects my rights. Where do you live???” Hahahahahahahaha. That is the funniest thing I have read in quite some time. China is a free country that respects its citizens rights?!?!? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,,,,,oh,,phew,,,hahahahahahahahahahaha. Good one. You should take that routine on the road.

    • Your analysis is very wrong. Because you have forgotten something in your “I DONT DO WHAT NOBODY SAYS” rant. In America EVERYONE IS FREE. You are free to demand whatever content you want, BUT the businesses you demand content from are also free to deny it to you if they CHOOSE.
      Further, TTAG IS NOT BLOCKED. I am accessing it right now, in America. Kohl’s just does not want to provide it to you over their PRIVATE CONNECTION. I keep caps-ing these words because they make a huge difference in the argument and you keep arguing, so I can only assume you don’t know what they mean or don’t see them.
      See in America we have PRIVATE PROPERTY, because the state doesn’t own everything, and on PRIVATE PROPERTY, the owners rights are superior to yours. Now I guess technically, that means you aren’t 100% free, but the rights of property owners have to be superior to yours on their property because that’s the only way they have the right to make you leave, or prevent you from leaving with their stuff, or prevent you from killing them. In America you as a property owner have the right to say, no I don’t want people viewing TTAG over my internet, or reading Playboys in front of my kids in my living room, or busting in to search through my home so they can tell everyone they want that I do or do not own guns.
      Also visitors to your property are free to own their own cellular data connections and view TTAG (and Playboy) anyway, or free to leave.
      The problem with your argument is that there is no such thing as EVERYONE being 100% FREE. Its a logical absurdity. It sounds good but if ever you have 2, 100% free, men who meet, whose freedom do they both follow?
      Yes, “As a consenting adult I, and no one else should have the authority to choose my sources of information.”
      You do. As long as you go get your information over a data connection that’s yours. But as long as you want to go to “some diddly little hospital where I may have to frequent based on geography or treatment options…” They are free to, “… restrict my access to information that I deem important to me”

      Yes I “… still call that freedom. ” Their Freedom as much as Yours. In America we have to find ways to balance freedom because everyone has it. We do so along private property lines. As opposed to China which does it along the lines of government bribes.

      Hey, speaking of freedom. How are all the Chinese army officers stationed in Tibet to prevent the people who want to be a separate country from China doing? The last time I was there they were free to carry around type 56 rifles in public and no one dared look at them or speak to them. Because I’m sure along with the freedom to carry those rifles they are free to shoot anyone who says the wrong things. Because, you know, freedom. Right?

      • And I was told not to take photos of them because they would confiscate my cameras, because not only does the Chinese government not want Chinese users to be able to access information on Tiananmen Square
        (go to this link if you can http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989)
        but they also don’t want the international community to know that many Tibetans want their own nation of Tibet. Nor do they want it known that every day Chinese army officers with type 56’s openly walk the streets of Lhasa to quash any protests.

  24. Everyone is soon going to have to know the basics of using things like proxies, VPNs and encryption to navigate the Internet, and using the Tor browser is a good, easy way to get your feet wet.

    Installing Tor would allow filter bypassing, I’m not just NetVangelizing.

    PS Tor stuff is hyperlinked above, just not highlighting as you hover the pointer on them like usual.

  25. Definitely be polite

    Realize that most of these companies haven’t specifically gone out of their way to block said content; they just purchased a filtering solution with a bunch of default categories.

  26. I once visited “Flowserve” corp. for a business related visit. As a visitor they provided me free wifi while I waited. I complained to them and rubbed it in deep because their internet policy blocked “cheaperthandirt” and “TTAG” but not the home shopping network or other ridiculous shopping stuff. I inquired why an employee can waste time at the home shopping network, but it was not allowed to waste time on cheaperthandirt.com.

  27. Let me respond to you in unison. If you look at the constitutions of the US and China you will see that they are almost identical with the exception of 2A. They have all the same right with respect to assembly, religion, speech as Americans do but China has decided not to block TTAG in their hospitals or any other place, therefore they enjoy a freedom that many Americans apparently do not. Good luck with that. I suggest you all try holding on to those few freedoms you have left.

      • No, I’m just sick of the small minded idiots who frequent this site and will end up destroying the liberties of the rest of us. Kind of like you. But better.

        • Oh, so you don’t live in Tibet and are not a Chinese citizen. So you are a liar as well as a troll.

  28. No deep thinkers here huh? Check this out. Read the Chinese and American constitutions, then ponder the fragility of your freedoms.

    • Before posting on an English post board learn to read English.
      I can only assume you cannot read English because no matter how much I explain this you respond with the same statement. Here we go one more time:

      “China has decided not to block TTAG in their hospitals or any other place, therefore they enjoy a freedom that many Americans apparently do not.”

      No
      YOU ARE WRONG
      AMERICA DID NOT BLOCK ANYTHING
      In China the GOVERNMENT blocks sites, In America the GOVERNMENT can’t. Only A PRIVATE business (Hospitals in America are PRIVATE BUSINESSES NOT STATE OWNED) can block access to things ON A PRIVATE NETWORK. Once you get off that private network there are no restrictions. It’s their RIGHT to control their PRIVATE PROPERTY. Something you don’t have in China at all.

      Please learn to read English before responding. Im sick of repeating myself.

      • Some hospitals are funded by public tax monies…….(not so private) …Use a smaller brush while painting your thoughts…….

      • So solly you can not understand the bluntly obvious. Let’s try again, shall we. Someone complained TTAG blocked. I say, still can read in China. The point that you are tragically missing: look at the freedoms listed on paper in the Chineese constitution. Consider how many of them are actually enjoyed by the Chinese people (almost none) then consider how fragile you own liberties are if you don’t fight every encroachment on them. Think of yourself forced into a hospital due to treatment options geography or cost and having your rights to observe and practice your religion curtailed by blockage to the internet. Starting to get the idea yet? What if you can’t afford the neat iPhone to serf with? So only the less fortunate get blocked. By the way, as far as I know TTAG is not blocked in Tibet, Beijing, or Xian.

        So, while you hold the people of China in contempt and ridicule what you believe is my lack of education, why don’t you take your gaze away from your navel and look at the world. You will be the better for it.

        Oh yes, try to curtail your prejudice. It only does you further harm.

        • “Someone complained TTAG blocked. I say, still can read in China.”

          No.
          You are wrong.
          That IS NOT what the article says.

    • Freedom is fragile by definition. That’s why it must be fought for and defended by weapons. Freedom combined with prohibition of weapons is only freedom by loan. It ends as soon as those with weapons choose to take it away. All over the world the Norinco Type 56 is one of the best known tools of champions of freedom from oppressive governments.
      Except of course, in its home country, where the people who make it aren’t even allowed to own one. You ask how can we call it freedom when we experienced one website blocked in one building over one internet connection in a country of 300 million people. I say to you: How many of your friends have Type 56s? Many Americans own them.

      • None, and you hit the point right on the head. If freedoms only exist on paper, what good are they. At some point the paper is written and at some later point the freedoms may be encroached on or go away completely. My whole point is that you can never stop protecting your freedom because as soon as you do, it’s gone.

      • Now that we’re on the topic, throughout China there are posters encouraging the public to cooperate against act of terrorism. This is a very good thing as innocent people have lost their lives so that others could make a political statement. The posters show Chinese police in SWAT gear with rifles and pistols at the ready (note good trigger discipline is a lease observed). The problem is that most police are totally unarmed, some have night sticks, some have firearms in and around Tienamen. If you were to call in a maniacal knife wheilder the police would first have to arm themselves then traverse the insurmountable traffick in order to respond. This is what happens to a disarmed populace, night stick vs machete. Any trackers?

  29. This is about keeping employees working and not spending all day reading gun news. I work for a Fortune 500 company. We have a lot of sites blocked. eBay, Hunting related, Sports related, Entertainment Related, etc,… Its likely not a political thing. So, as Sargent Big Toe said it, “Lighten up, Francis.”

    Besides, who takes a laptop to Kohls…???

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