Home > Uncategorized > False Information about the Cars.Gov Web Site

False Information about the Cars.Gov Web Site

Apparently there is not a sufficient amount of ferment and discontent among those who are unhappy with the Obama Administration. Glenn Beck, the Fox News analyst, recently announced that the US government has declared the right to “seize” and “own” (declare as US government property) any computer that connects to the Cars.Gov Web site, the site that the government has set up in connection with the “Cash for Clunkers” program.

I seldom get caught up in all the Republican-Democrat “spitting wars,” but the idea of the government “owning” someone’s computer if that person connects to Cars.Gov just seemed so implausible that I asked someone who works as a cybersecurity expert in high places in the US government what the truth about this site was. I received the following reply:

>”I checked the site and found their privacy policy:
>http://www.dot.gov/privacy.html
>
>I also found more info on Glenn Beck:
>
>http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/08/cars-gov-terms-service
>
>Which states:
>
>Clicking “continue” on a poorly worded Terms of >Service on a government site >will not give the >government the ability to “tap into your system… >any time they >want. The seizure of the personal >and private information stored on your computer >through a one-sided click-through terms of service >is not conscionable” as lawyers say, and would not >be enforceable even if the cars.gov website was >capable of doing it, which we seriously doubt.
>Moreover, the law has long forbidden the >government from requiring you
>to give up unrelated constitutional rights (here the >4th Amendment right to be free from search and >seizure as a condition of receiving discretionary >government benefits like participation in the Cars >for Clunkers program.”

I sincerely thank my friend (who shall remain anonymous) for this clarification. What I find so interesting is that in the midst of all this clamor, anything, regardless of how true it is, can be turned into an unfounded accusation that spreads widely not only all over the Internet, but also over television, and cybersecurity related falsehoods and embellishments are no exception. Worse yet, there is no indication whatsoever that Mr. Beck or his staff exerted any kind of effort to delve into the truth of Mr. Beck’s so-called “discovery.”

Internet hoaxes surface all the time. Fortunately, we have sites such as snopes.com to debunk these hoaxes. If you go to snopes.com and other similar sites, you’ll find that they have declared Mr. Beck’s accusations to be a hoax. The bottom line is that ostensibly there is no reason to be fearful about connecting to and interacting with the Cars.Gov Web site.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. Scott
    August 31st, 2009 at 13:41 | #1

    Shame on Fox News and Glenn Beck for scaring people when he has little knowledge of what he is saying. First the EULA (end users license agreement) with all the scary verbiage is common in the private and public sector. The wording is darn scary sounding, but nothing more than a loud bark until someone provides evidence that the Feds are actually intruding into our computers. Most EULA’s have nicer wording but the main point is “no assumption of privacy” Below are some examples and search for “no assumption of privacy”

    http://www.naplesgov.com/Home/Privacy.aspx

    http://oma.od.nih.gov/ms/privacy/faq.html

    http://www.msstate.edu/dept/audit/0119.html

    This one is excellent and should set an example. Notice the verbiage about use of cookies
    http://www.defenselink.mil/warning/warn-dl.html

    While you are connected to any web server the data you send to it is out of your hands, and is subject to storage, review, etc. This is nothing new and if you are reading this, you use a computer and likely submit data to someone’s web server on a daily basis. Second there is no evidence in the form of network traces, weblogs or virus alerts that the government is secretly putting malicious code on your system.
    If that is ever the case, you can bet I’ll be among the first to protest. They did do the wiretapping, but pulling off a massive worm / virus attack would be difficult not to mention political suicide. Third, Glenn and his associate mentioned something about cookies spying on you. How ridiculous! Cookies store data about your preferences and specific session data. It is true that some cookies can be poorly written which can leave them around long past the web session they are associated with and sometimes poorly written cookies can store sensitive data like a password. But cookies are not malicious code like a worm or virus.

    We do have many problems, but this one was over blown and taking away attention from more important issues (health care, middle east, economy). When a large news agency, such as Fox, makes a mistake and scares people, they should own the mistake and make amends. Hopefully Glenn has done this.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.