This is scary

Others have already written about problems with the Cash for Clunkers program.

Now The Anchoress points out a problem (video at link) with the website for the program: the click-through agreement to use the site notes that a computer used to access the site becomes the property of the federal government!

The actual language used is, “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 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.”

Is this a violation of the Fifth Amendment? I don’t see what the “public use” would be, and I’m unaware of any compensation. How about the Fourth Amendment?

True, it says, “When logged on,” as opposed to “Once logged on,” which implies that your computer is government property only while you’re on the site. However, is there a persistent state change anyway? Once your computer becomes a Federal computer system, does it automatically become a private computer again when you leave the site, or must you take explicit steps to make it a private system again?

If your computer belongs to the government, even if only for the time you’re using the site, they can install software onto it, can’t they? After all, it’s their computer … right? Keyloggers, spyware, and rootkits, anyone?

I’m not sure if I’m hoping that there is just another wet-behind-the-ears, out-of-control junior lawyer behind this, who will be reversed as soon as a grown-up finds out about it, or if this is actually a planned policy of the Obama administration. If the first is the case, then it’s evil, but more in the sense of “Obama’s people don’t have enough handle on what they’re doing to prevent evil from being done.” If it’s the second, then it’s EVIL – no ifs, ands, or buts.

How long before this language spreads to other government websites? Raise your hands, everybody who can guarantee that their computer has nothing on it that violates any regulation pertaining to use of government computers. And, given that information may be provided to officials of foreign agencies, guarantee that you won’t run afoul of laws in some other country.

You know, if we had actual journalists in the mainstream media, they’d be all over this like white on rice.

Comments are closed.