SPUG: Chip Salzenberg Defense Fund

Ken Meyer kmeyer at blarg.net
Thu Aug 4 10:48:32 PDT 2005

Thanks, Bill.  I sort of got the drift of that, but the question remains in
my mind: what are these "dubious practices".  Scraping what?  Can it be
downloading pages?  Highly unlikely to be a problem, as that is what the web
is about and magnitude of the process, while perhaps questionable, doesn't
appear to me to be illegal.  Burrowing into the web server to retrieve
information that is on the server but not displayed?  Well, kind of the
inverse of spyware, but spyware is endemic, albeit loathsome, and as far as
I can tell, not really illegal at this point.  It's still not clear whether
Chip has not been excessively sanctimonious about this practice, whatever it
is, not to mention naive about corporate prerogatives.

Note that Bev Harris, of Black Box Voting notoriety, found accidentally that
Diebold, the electronic voting machine people, had apparently left their
software development files sharing space on their web server and open to the
Internet.  She downloaded a large pile of CD's worth of information, which
she has shared and which has given invaluable insight into how lousy the
Diebold equipment is (and the Diebold CEO? has been quoted as saying that he
"..would do anything to see George W. Bush elected).  Although Bev has
received a lot of "cease and desist" orders, she is not in the slammer -- or
even indicted.

Now, regardless of the wisdom -- or lack of it -- of blowing the whistle on
your boss for practices that are not patently illegal, so that you might get
protection from whistle-blower laws, there is the aspect of the police
seizing his computer.  This seems to me to potentially be a huge, generic
problem; but needs to be addressed by such as the ACLU on very broad
grounds.  That is, we know that computers owned by our employers at work can
be searched at will, and that e-mail that you send, even if you don't store
it, can be examined and sites you visit can be tracked -- "all your
keystrokes are belong to us".  So, what if you use your computer at home to
telecommute?  Does this computer then become open, in toto, to seizure and
searching by the employer?  Whoa!  That's worth a legal battle for sure.

But in lieu of specific legal protection, how can one protect him/herself?
Use a computer exclusively for the remote access to work sites and not for
any personal use?  Don't load necessary software to access your work on the
personal-use computers on your network, so you can prove that it/they
weren't connected to the company net?  Make the company prove what MAC
addresses connected to their net -- well MAC's aren't immutable any more?
Any ideas?  How do privacy protections apply here?

Ken Meyer

-----Original Message-----

From: spug-list-bounces at pm.org [mailto:spug-list-bounces at pm.org]On
Behalf Of Bill Campbell
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 9:42 AM
To: SPUG Members

Subject: Re: SPUG: Chip Salzenberg Defense Fund

On Thu, Aug 04, 2005, Ken Meyer wrote:

>I spent 10 minute on the linked site and still have essentially no idea
>this dispute is about.  Can you elaborate?

It appears to me that Chip found the company was engaging in
highly dubious practices (e.g. scraping information from web
sites using zombied proxies without their owners permission), and
sent the company a letter advising them of the illegality of
their actions and that he would have no part of it.

INTERNET:   bill at Celestial.COM  Bill Campbell; Celestial Software LLC
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