Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Cash for Clunkers Website Spies on Your Computer?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC Editor Jeff Puthuff warns:

“Before you play the video of Glenn Beck’s latest loony-tunes conspiracy theory, keep in mind that it’s totally nuts. Here’s the key information debunking it:

1. If you are a consumer visiting cars.gov (the “cash for clunkers” website) the Federal government cannot take control over your computer, nor will it ask permission to do so.

2. The “Terms of Use” statement to which Beck refers in this clip is not from cars.gov. Rather it is a login page for dealer transactions located at esc.gov.

3. The only people who can get login credentials for the esc.gov site are dealers who have been screened and registered for the “cash for clunkers” program.

4. To summarize: the page in question isn’t on cars.gov and can only be used by dealers who have already registered. Consumers won’t be impacted by any of this.”

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 88 comments
  • Pch101 Pch101 on Aug 03, 2009
    Someone who watches Beck is not necessarily a moron. The more that I see of the guy, the more trouble that I have believing that. The guy is obviously preying upon the computer illiteracy of his audience, which apparently doesn't seem to know that the federal government is collecting **less** information about them than pretty much every other website that they may look at, including the Fox News website. Either Beck is insulting the intelligence of his viewers or else he is himself a moron who knows so little about the internet that he doesn't realize how much information his own employer attempts to gather about internet users. He really has no facts to support his case, and his factual errors (lies?) have been described here in sufficient detail that there is little more to discuss. The issue isn't whether he's wrong -- he is -- but whether he knows it or is lying. At this juncture, I could believe either answer.
  • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Aug 03, 2009
    Someone who watches Beck is not necessarily a moron. Sure, but those people are doing it for the lulz.
  • Orian Orian on Aug 04, 2009

    There is nothing to be suspicious of this web site. At all. All they are doing is setting up a NAC (network access control) for connectivity to it. You HAVE to be a dealer to use the site so that eliminates the general public (ol' Glenn forgot to mention that, didn't he?). Now, the purpose of the NAC for those that are not aware is to verify that the computer connecting has anti-virus, firewall, and other protective measures in place. This is standard for government connectivity and many employers. My last employer interrogated any employee's (company provided)computer to verify that it had the latest security updates and anti-virus patterns applied. If not you were immediately disconnected from the network and the security department would contact you to make sure your computer was brought back into compliance before being allowed to connect to the network again. Trust me when I say you do not want an infected machine on the network - it presents too many infection an security breach vectors to deal with, especially with a network the size of the governments (and who knows how well that is managed).

  • Dr. D Dr. D on Aug 04, 2009

    Well...seems that flaming, verbal attacks unrelated to topic and a general encroaching atmosphere of intolerance, anger is not my way. I am out of my league. I come on here and present what I see, think and believe and am attacked as a moron, etc. for it and other condescending, etc.,etc. Man this was about autos I thought and freedom in a positive, challenging, respecting atmosphere to present one's thoughts, etc. This is no longer the case. Good day and God bless I go away, never to return.