Until yesterday’s stellar performance by Orly Taitz on MSNBC, Glenn Beck has been the head of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade. It’s quite amazing that Beck makes $30 million for his Fox News Show. What we are witnessing every weekday at 5 pm on Fox News is a paranoid schizophrenic have a psychotic episode live on TV. There have been so many nutcase moments of Glenn Beck its almost hard to keep track. There were the bailout bunny cakes, the gas can, the countless chalkboards and many more. But Glenn Beck’s latest rant literally might be his craziest because so many people are falling for his lunatic fear mongering. First, take the video:
Here’s what the warning used to say:
“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 U.S. Government. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be 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.”
Sounds scary doesn’t it? Normally, I would agree that this statement is a clear violation of privacy rights…but I have a brain. See, there’s a couple things Beck forgot to mention in this piece:
1. The Cars.Gov login he’s talking about isn’t for everyone interested in taking advantage of getting $4,500 for their old clunker. The login is for DEALERS ONLY. First off, dealers opt into the cash-for-clunkers program, making it completely volunteer. Secondly, because they are sending personal data, the connection between their computer and the government’s needs to be a secure connection (hence why they need to log in). Which leads me to…
2. It’s a VPN connection you morons. The warning is your typical warning when you remotely connect to a private network. When I work from home, I connect to my company’s network by using a VPN. When I do, I’m told that my personal computer is subject to the same rules and standards if it was a company computer. I have a government client and we were warned that when we connect to their network that our work computers were considered parts of their network and could be monitored. By monitored I mean any data transfered over their network. No, they couldn’t read the document I was working on in Word or see that I was plaing Solitaire. But if I was, downloading a porn movie…then yeah, they would see that. Before you think that’s “such a voilation”, its no different than if you brought your personal laptop to your government job and plugged it into the LAN. Once you’re on the government’s network (or technically any network that you don’t own) they become responsible for your traffic and it can be monitored…which leads to the last point…
3. This “monitoring” is only occurring when you log into the Cars.gov application. When you disconnect, it also stops any monitoring. The “dubious warning” even says that this only applies when your are “logged on to the CARS system”.
The White House has for some reason bowed to Beck’s lunacy and has taken down the disclaimer and is going to change it. I wish they hadn’t because now Glenn Beck thinks he’s won some kind of victory against a government plotting to take over innocent people’s computers. He hasn’t. Dealers still have to log in and connect to a government system. Since all traffic on a government system is monitored, logic dictates that your network traffic while connected to the network is being monitored too. This is common practice. If this wasn’t happening, and there was no secure connection, dealers would be transferring your personal data insecurely across the web. Of course you don’t want that.
Watching Glenn Beck’s program last night just showed how computer illiterate some people are. Beck was trying to link this to the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretapping. Beck and his guests tried to make it seem as if this was some kind of “testing of the waters” by the govenrment to see if they could sneak in something through the back door. Right. Cause the most effect means of that is a login screen only used by dealers. This wasn’t some malicious attempt by the government to gain access to your computer. If it was, they wouldn’t have put a warning up or used a volunteer program to do it. Or they would have required citizens to login to request their rebate and gain access to more people. But they didn’t do that. Why? Because this is standard and makes sense. I need people to use common sense. The fact that real people actually believe what Glenn Beck’s dumbass said is what’s really scary.