Thursday, August 6, 2009

My take on Obama's Computer Invasion

I am going to both agree and disagree with the Watch Dog's latest post.

I know a few government contractors that do IT work, specifically those who have been hired to ensure that our private information is kept private. So I am stating the following with the small amount of knowledge that I have gleaned from various conversations with them (which is far from having expert knowledge or anything, but I did pick up some helpful bits of information):

1.) As far as I know, nothing you do on a federally-owned computer is considered to be private. At any time, they can go over everything that you have ever done, every site you have visited and every instant message that you've ever sent. Which is fine with me -- they own the computers.

2.) The government spends a lot of money to ensure that information kept by and transmitted through government computers is secure.

3.) If you are going to be using government software, the government is going to want to check your computer to make sure that the information being input into that system is being used appropriately. What if someone puts in a program on their [private] computer that skims the social security numbers off of every "cash for clunkers" [government] application that is run through the computer?

My point is that when computers are involved in government-run programs [voluntarily -- I haven't seen anything yet that forces participation in this, although I could be wrong] requiring government-sponsored software, and that software includes retrieving and sending sensitive information on a somewhat regular basis, I would concede that the government has the right to monitor those computers. The disclaimer in this case would allow the government to cut through legal red tape in the event that there is a problem. And I can understand the need for a blanket disclaimer to alert various car dealers of this fact.

In short, if you don't want Obama's government to see you reading pro-conservative websites in between "cash for clunkers" data inputs, I suggest that you either (1) don't participate in the "cash for clunkers" program, or (2) have one computer solely dedicated to government software that is not connected to other computers.

This does NOT apply to situations such as the average citizen uploading their taxes, because this does not involve transmitting the sensitive information of many people on a daily basis. Furthermore, the government can argue that they are not responsible for the safe transmittal of your information because you do so at your own risk, and they give you the option of mailing in your taxes rather than filing them online. I would doubt very strongly that you can participate in the "cash for clunkers" program without using government software, which shifts the burden of information security to the government. I can only imagine the public outcry if it was revealed that all of the social security numbers of all of those that traded in their cars could be accessed by your average nine year old with a laptop.

On the other hand, I agree with the Watch Dog that this disclaimer does raise two very large red flags:

Red Flag #1: The Obama administration never seems to know where to draw the line. Common sense dictates that uploading your taxes is a completely different concept than ongoing usage of government software and participation in a government-sponsored program, and the extent to which they can have access to your personal computer should be adjusted accordingly. However, I do not trust our government to make this distinction.

Red Flag #2: This is yet ANOTHER example of the Obama administration acting without thinking. How could they not foresee that this statement was going to cause a problem? Perhaps people would not have become so alarmed if they had either (a) issued an explanation with the statement, or (b) made the statement more self-explanatory. Part of me wants to laugh and suggest that next time, they attach the disclaimer to the back of Air Force One and fly it over several cities without telling anyone first. They seem to be pretty good at stuff like that.

As I write this, Obama's minions are busy picking off any electronic evidence of people who are against his health care reform. They are doing it under the guise of ferreting out disinformation, but we all know that this is another thinly-veiled attempt to cover up the fact that the public support of Obama's health care plan is beginning to wane.

I love it when the government decides what is and is not fact. It's so very Pravda-circa-1975-esque.

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Christine said...

This sounds a lot like the '30's in Germany,From the health care "reform" to the "taking of names" of citizens opposed to the Administration to his private army of Acorns!.

Ashley Moreno said...

Voice of reason: So according to this logic, if I file my income tax online, my computer should be subject to these same rules. Come on. Surely the United States Federal Gov't can come up with a system that would allow auto dealers and/or consumer participants to input their information without all this drama.

Seems to me it's the T-Rex testing the electrified fence....

IT Guru said...

I am, or was, (now retired)an IT engineer.

You give the federal government far too much credit.

If you are involved in moving secure data, you do it with dedicated computers.

There is absolutely no reason for them to tap in to home/business computers.

On this one I will side with the Dog!

Wheeler said...

Smacks of "Big Brother" to me!

"1984" only 25 years late.

Skywalker said...

One of the stipulations in the healthcare bill is that the government has total access to ALL your bank accounts and they will withdraw payment for your medical procedure(s) as they see fit.

It comes as no surprise that they want total access to home and business computers.

It is a real joke that abortion is a "right", because of an imaginary right to privacy in the Constitution but the right to privacy as granted by the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Is violated at will by these tyrants!

Jacque said...

These are the people that bashed G.W. for wire-taping calls between foreign calls and suspected terrorist in the U.S. Right?

What a difference having fawning press makes!

Voice of Reason said...

IT Guru -

I agree that NEVER, under any circumstances should the government be able to get into your personal/home computer.

My approval of limited monitoring searches for government connected computers is only IN THEORY.

The problem is that we all know that they wouldn't limit their intrusions to the appropriate parameters. For example, they say that they can get into "cash for clunkers" computers while connected. I don't trust them to limit themselves to these periods. And because they aren't able to use their power correctly, they should not be given it at all.