Say what you want about the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck and his antics, but to give credit where credit is due, he exposed some disturbing language from the Obama administration's "Cash for Clunker" program Web site Cars.gov.
Beck on his July 31 program hosted a segment about the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) Web site, also known as "Cash for Clunkers" and demonstrated what a Web browser would encounter when logging on to the system.
"Here is Cars.gov. Let's say you go in, if I understand this right - I go in and I say, ‘I want to turn in my clunker.' The dealer goes to Cars.gov, and then they hit submit transaction. Here it says, ‘Privacy Act & Security Statement,' and you're just like, ‘Oh, it's the Privacy Act of 1974. Whatever, I agree. Now, this is how bad this system is."
However, once the Web operator proceeds beyond that point in the dealers section - the government has some very frightening language about what authority they have over your computer posted, as Beck reported. Ordinary consumers wouldn't encounter this warning, but the information contained in the dealer's computers might include theirs.
"A warning box comes up, and it says, ‘This application provides to the DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system and it is property of the United States government,'" Beck read. "‘Any and 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.'"
"Good God almighty!" Beck said.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a legal analyst for Fox News interpreted the language to mean the government has very broad authority over your computer - including the ability to seize personal and private information.
"Could it be any more broad or frightening?" Guilfoyle said. "Here you are trying to be a good citizen and make a charitable contribution, do something that's good and guess what - they are jumping right inside you, seizing all of your personal and private information and it's absolutely legal Glenn."
Guilfoyle also said legally the government can use Web software to track your computer any time they want once you've logged into the site.
"They can continue to track you basically forever," Guilfoyle said. "Once they've tapped into your system, and the government of course has like malware systems and tracking cookies - they can tap in any time they want."