All of your base are belong to us…UPDATED

Considering that for many of us our computers are very much our “base” this is pretty damned chilling. Not a Beck fan, but pianogirl sent this my way and urged me to watch. WOW. Astounding. Is this still America? Where is the press on this? I know the clause being cited here is meant to apply to dealership computers (and not ordinary buyers) but the fact that the clause exists at all is troubling. At its most innocent, this is unbelievably sloppy. At it’s worst, it’s downright nefarious.

And yeah, it must be said, can you IMAGINE the outcry over this, if it were a Bush program?

Seems even though the language was not meant to reference our personal computers, it has the terms of use have been changed. Heh. A thought is a thing.

James Pethokoukis:
Cash for Clunkers is Obamanomics in Microcosm

While you’re at it, Doug Ross puts together another of his excellent breakdowns, that you won’t want to miss.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • tim maguire

    The really scary thing is that this was almost certainly not written for the CARS program, but is boilerplate they use all over government websites.

    I make a fair amount of use of governemnt websites in my work, I’m going to have to start reading those warnings and disclaimers to find out what I’ve exposed myself to.

  • Allison

    not all of us can listen to audio. can someone give a summary? or a transcript?

    what is the term of use at issue?

    [Details in sidebar here. admin]

  • Joseph Marshall

    More straining at a gnat after swallowing a camel? Tim McGuire is correct. This is commonplace on many Government access web sites.

    It is probably backed up by statutory legal authority in one or the other of the anti-hacking, computer crime, or perhaps child pornography laws. It was almost certainly passed by Congress sometime between 2001-2008 and signed by guess who?

    As far as chasing after it goes, there were so many abuses of power ignoring or claiming non-existent legal authority between those same eight years that going after the ones that have legal justification was pointless.

    The Internet is public space, not private space and this is no more startling than the police arresting someone on suspicion, even if he is capable of providing valid identification of who he is.

    Sound familiar?

  • dicentra

    Well, I AM a Glenn Beck fan, and I think he needs to walk this one back, or at least do a clarification follow-up. When it comes to gubmint bureaucracies, never attribute to malice what can be explained by overweening stupidity.

    Joseph: He was not arrested on suspicion of anything; he was arrested for giving a cop unnecessary grief. I’d have wanted to teach that snooty Harvard prof a lesson, too, if he decided to use our encounter as a way to energize his street cred. (“Must stand up to the MAN, yo.”)

    It was about class, not race.

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  • Gina

    I do recall seeing this message before, maybe in using the online export declaration site (“reducing exporting stress”- ha! The government must hire comedians to write this stuff!). It’s a boilerplate message, probably an anti-hacking warning, since when you’re accessing a government computer you’re tapping into the Borg. I really doubt it’s for assimilation purposes, though. Now the census, that’s a different story…

  • Joseph Marshall

    He was not arrested on suspicion of anything; he was arrested for giving a cop unnecessary grief.

    The legal authority for any such warrentless arrest is suspicion of having committed a crime. Period. I’m not an infant and I know perfectly well that police abuse such legal authority routinely when no such suspicion exists. Until such time as Gates is convicted for the crime of “giving a policeman unnecessary grief” arresting him for it was abuse.

  • Gina

    Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct, and for that, there is evidence on videotape for all to see.

    I don’t know whether he should have been arrested or not. I do know that the matter should not have been brought to the biggest bully pulpit in the country despite Obama’s admitted ignorance of the circumstances.

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  • MikeP

    Glenn, and everyone else, should slow down, stop then re-engage their brains before driving any further. I am in the software business, I also work in a government office (as a contractor, not as a govt employee). A few observations:

    1. This notice looks like standard boilerplate that every user of a *government* owned computer will see upon login. Your PC is **not** government owned and it will take a lot more than a login to a govt site to make it so. It ain’t so just because some idiot bureaucrat says it is. But it is most certainly one of the more stupid things I have seen the government do in 40+ years of working for it. I access government sites from my home PC (Linux of course!) and I have never seen this notice. Never.

    2. The pretty lawyer lady should stick to lawyering and leave technical matters to those who understand them. A “tracking cookie” is harmless. In order for one computer to be “hijacked” by another, the other machine must run a program on the victim. From what I saw on Beck’s video, this did not happen: it was just a web page with no apparent active content. I suppose there could have been more to it than that but that leads to the next point:

    3. Govt computer systems are locked down to the point that they are nearly unusable. At least the the DOD machines are. Installing the kind of software on a govt website capable of controlling another computer thru a simple web page access is non-trivial and also very illegal. I think Jonah was right about this one: this is just stupid govt lawyers “at work”. So chill, then laugh it to death.

  • cathyf

    My husband’s colleague at a national lab administers the nuclear theory group’s computers. The computers have the standard government “your computer belongs to us” boilerplate, and then pass to the “Welcome to the…” line. Where the admin has rather puckishly changed it to: “Welcome (sorta) to the…”

  • KT

    If it is “boilerplate” why did they alter it?

  • Market Biz News

    [ as to the Black Harvard Professor, the officer did in fact arrest him for talking back to an officer, although once the professor gave him the I.D. he should have exited the premises immediately which he did not. However, under Massachusets law the supreme court clearly stated there is a freedom of speech and no man [ even Black men ] can be arrested for talking back to a cop. that is why the charges were immediately dropped and the cop was suspended. I’m personally offended by your vernacular dicentra, i found it disgusting you would ascribe “colloquialisms” to a world reknowned Harvard professor. it’s the same thing the cop tried to do, by saying the professor talked about his mother. Indeed.]

    As to Beck, this is nazi germany, eastern europe block, mother russia all over again. Who would have thunk that such an “agreement” could exist in America. Formerly it said “by loging into this website”, you didn’t even have to agree to the privacy agreement. They back peddled because the general public is not used to their “gestapo” type tactics.

    The story is just amazing to me.

    The very idea of cash for clunkers is degenerate and idiotic to begin with: turn in a paid for car, that has to work perfectly, to take out a loan for a brand new car? And, in return you get $2,000? Which you’re going to turn around and pay for in taxes?

    Stupid – to quote Obama