The Dummy Chronicles

2 Aug

dummy.jpg (JPEG Image, 345x359 pixels)

In a new, irregular and totally random feature, I’ll address a media report that is so incredibly fucking dumb, that it can not be allowed to stand. I’m calling it “The Dummy Chronicles” because the reporter/commentator relaying it is a big, fat dummy or the report itself will result in dummies panicking after seeing it.

As the “computer geek” in the lives of many friends, I am often sent a lot of bullshit rumors/claims/reports about the impending doom of spyware/malware/internet hoaxes and asked to debunk them.  Today, I was forwarded the following clip from The Glenn Beck show on Fox News.  In it, Beck describes how the government is out to take over your computer simply because you are using the Cars.gov website which is the web portal for the “Cash For Clunkers” program.

Watch the dumb pour from your computer screen in this clip as Beck, Jonah Goldberg and some anonymous, buxom Fox news reader describe the site.  Absorb Beck’s Barnum-esque flair for the dramatic and feel the fear mongering.

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For the video deprived, in the clip, Beck reads the following end user license agreement language:

Let me show you what it does say when you pull it up. Can you bring up the full screen on what it says?

A warning box comes up, and it says, “This application provides access to the DOT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system and it is property of the United States Government. Or — any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DOT, law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.”

Good God Almighty!

Beck uses the following words in his description of the site, the government and what could happen to John Q. Public if and when he logs into the CARS.gov website:

“Frightening”, “seizing”, “track you forever”, “nefarious”, “they can get all your information”, “evil people”, “wicked, crazy, frightening people”, “troubling”, “If you log on to this at your home, everything in your home is now theirs”, “Don’t do it”

All of this from Goldberg and Beck, both of whom supported Bush’s Patriot Act and warrantless wiretapping.

Problem with the segment that 4MM+ people watched live and online?

It is total, unadulterated bullshit.

What Beck fails to mention in this segment is that the part of the website he is referencing is the login portal for auto dealers, not the part of the site your Nana or Aunt Peg in Jamestown will visit when they research if they can trade in their 1975 Plymouth Valiant for a discount on a fancy new Impala.

You might also notice in the clip that the website Beck is accessing is blue in color, not the green one  Joe Six Pack would see while looking at cars.gov.  The login portal and subsequent EULA he is referencing is for dealers who are accessing a government system filled with non-public data; data like your VIN, license plates and drivers license numbers.  It contains sensitive information, so it is protected thusly.

Also, regular users of the site can’t even find the link that Beck references on the site by navigating around, the user would have been directed to the link, presumably through a communication with the Department of Transportation. Interestingly, once logged in, the dealer is redirected to another site administered by the DOT and the EULA the dealer must agree to prior to moving forward is as follows, in its unedited glory:

This application provides access to the DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is the property of the United States Government. It is for authorized use only. Users (authorized or unauthorized) have no explicit or implicit expectation of privacy.

Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DoT, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign. By using this system, the user consents to such interception, monitoring, recording, copying, auditing, inspection, and disclosure at the discretion CARS or the DoT personnel.

Unless you’re a dummy, reading the entirety of that warning should tell you that an auto dealer is not giving the government the right or ability to look at files on the dealer’s computer.  The EULA references files the dealer would submit ONTO THE GOVERNMENT SYSTEM.

This is all pretty standard language and not shocking in the least. The government is taking steps to make sure files uploaded to its site are clean and inline with the intent of the program. In fact, highlighting the text and performing a rudimentary google search yields nearly 1000 results on state, academic, and federal websites which use that exact EULA language.

Of course, Beck would rather you think that government socialists want to look at your family pictures, check on what porn sites you visit, and examine your .mp3’s to make sure you didn’t download them from a torrent site. None of which is true and is yet another sad chapter in Glenn Beck’s history of creating a sense of creeping totalitarianism while dramtically fear mongering.

Too bad so many people love this guy, it speaks ill of America that this guy gets a paycheck every two weeks to do anything but rinse mops at an adult theater.

This concludes this edition of The Dummy Chronicles. I hope you enjoyed it and you should forward anything you want highlighted to me in comments or via email.

8 Responses to “The Dummy Chronicles”

  1. Alan Bedenko August 2, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    At least in the paper, you get to write a LTE.

    Fox News is not, contrary to public opinion, a Republican mouthpiece . It is instead a mouthpiece for dummies to misinform even dumber people. Hence what you have above.

  2. Ethan August 3, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    it speaks ill of America that this guy gets a paycheck every two weeks to do anything but rinse mops at an adult theater.

    if your media is totally pwned, this is what you’ll get: entertainment > information

  3. Howard Goldman August 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Chris, Politics aside, the real story inside the story is that language in the small print of passive click agreements has so much legal contract enforcement strength. I’m going to put some language on my website agreement that “…the user agrees that all his personal and real property and all future earnings are now the property of Howard Goldman in consideration of viewing his website. Clicking constitutes signing a confession of judgment…”

    That way, I’ll have plenty to pay the next guys with.

  4. Your point? August 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    So this bothers you less because it’s for the auto dealers rather than Average Joe’s computer? I still find it deplorable … I don’t care if it’s Mork from Ork’s computer that is being violated in such a manner. To just brush it off as if it means nothing is completely ignorant in every sense of the word. Thousands of people died in the 9/11 attack, but I guess you think that the people who get upset by that event are dumbshits because it didn’t happen to them? Completely idiotic mentality.

    • Christopher Smith August 4, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

      Clearly, you didn’t understand the post. The point of the matter is that there is no intrusion onto anyone’s personal or business computer when accessing the CARS.gov database. It’s not really complex.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

      Thousands of people died in the 9/11 attack, but I guess you think that the people who get upset by that event are dumbshits because it didn’t happen to them?

      Sir, I applaud your use of reductio ad novem undecim.

  5. STEEL August 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm #

    The language sounds creepy to me but. It is the very same type of thing that Beck and co. have been championing over the last 8 years of the Bush regime. Why does this upset him so much all of a sudden? Isn’t it his patriotic duty to let the government spy on personal issues. That is what were were told by the right up until now.

  6. Joe August 7, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    I have never seen a eula with a line like this:

    “When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is the property of the United States Government. It is for authorized use only.”

    The eula line you googled, repeated below, without the above line preceding it, would have a different meaning of the word ‘system.’ Without the above line the word ‘system’ would mean the GUI interface to the web server, and the web server itself. With the above line, the word ‘system’ entails the users entire computer. The eula clearly gives the government permission to do whatever it wants with your computer while you are logged in to cars, since your computer is deemed to be ‘property of the US government’ during that time. This is an unprecedented new step in legalizing invasion of privacy. Beck is right to be concerned about this, even if they aren’t installing spyware yet, the government is asserting the right to do so when logged in to that site.

    “Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed”

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