As conspiracy theories go, this one's a doozy. It seems the Obama Administration is secretly trying to turn your computer into a surveillance tool by inducing you to trade in your old car.
If that doesn't sound completely loony to you, then you're probably a fan of Glenn Beck. In a five-minute segment broadcast last Friday [video], Beck "uncovers" some frightening language on the Cars.gov "cash for clunkers" site. The site is set up for people who want to claim a tax rebate when they trade in their old gas guzzlers for a fuel-efficient model, and for dealers to get reimbursed the cost of the rebate by Uncle Sam.
[ Also on InfoWorld: "Uncle Sam's IT dashboard: Your tax dollars at work" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
The scary language reads in full:
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.
Unauthorized or improper use of this system may result in administrative disciplinary action and civil and criminal penalties.
According to Beck and the "experts," this means anyone who uses Cars.gov to buy or sell a car will have their PCs taken over by Uncle Sam, in perpetuity. Or as FoxBabe Kimberly Guilfoyle puts it:
Guess what, they can continue to track you basically forever. Once they've tapped into your system the government of course has malware systems and tracking cookies and they can tap in any time they want.... it's so broad they can just about do anything with it, saying that it's in the government's interest....