Friday, February 25, 2005

What Is Wrong With These People?

Via Nadhezhda's, news arrives that the US Department of Homeland Security have picked a chappy called D. Reed Freedman to sit on their "Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee". Freedman's other job is as Chief Privacy Officer of Claria Inc, the company that gave the world Gator, one of the net's worst spyware infections. As far as malware goes it's a beast - you can catch it by clicking a popup once or using some shareware, and it does not appear under its real name in your program list so as to make it harder to remove. It pukes adverts at you, but there's worse - one of the best ways to catch it is to download a program that offers to remember your online passwords.

The kicker is, though, that it sends back information about the websites you visit to a server in some distant light industrial facility. (And the passwords? They ain't telling.) By November 2003, they had already accumulated the world's seventh biggest database - some 12.1 terabytes of mass surveillance of the unwitting. Now, if anyone can tell me what the job of "Chief Privacy Officer" to these scum entails, I'd be glad to hear it. Surely the only way of protecting their victims' privacy would be to drag those servers out and hurl them off a motorway bridge, before collecting up the smashed hard disks and jumping on the bits?

Now, I'm not going to jump to conclusions about exactly why the DHS want to know this fellow, but I am going to put a question. If you wanted advice on electronic privacy, would you ask a spammer? I mean, are these people physically capable of doing anything without being evil and stupid and depraved? On this evidence you could set Republicans to pass a bill granting free ponies to little girls and they'd find a way to turn it into some kind of Orwellian horror show. I just can't see what's conservative about this.

Speaking of DHS, I notice someone there's developing an interest in Viktor Bout. They searched Google for "victor bout richard chichakli" and ended up here; they returned six times and read pretty much the lot. Not just that, but our old friend's been back, and someone in France searched for "An12 msn 4341803", an aircraft we've had dealings with before. Stand by for action on the Bout front.

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