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Re: Lotus' latest (Richard W Travsky)
(topical, computer, chuckle)

Sent to me by a friend...
               Lotus Introduces Controversial New Product
Today, Lotus Development Corporation introduced a new member of its MarketPlace
product family, MarketPlace: Surveillance.  This product, intended for "law
enforcement, security, and just plain nosey organizations," ushers in the era
of what Lotus spokespook Bud Dorkar called "Desktop Political Repression."
"Any company can put citizens at your fingertips, Dorkar continued, "only Lotus
puts them in the palm of your hand."
The product consists of a CD-ROM and software to read it.  The CD-ROM contains
information on individuals, including:
social security number
phone number
estimated income
estimated political and organization affiliations
marital status
name of spouse, if any
names of children, if any
names of pets, if any
names of other household members
known associates
estimated sexual orientation
estimated race
estimated religion
criminal record, if any
magazine subscriptions
library books checked out recently
cars and boats owned
driving record
fingerprints, if available
favorite color
one thing in the whole world most afraid of
comments by previous investigators
Users can select potential investigation subjects via a variety of selection
criteria, such as "all married environmentalists within an hour's drive of
Chicago."   The selected records are then copied to hard-disk from the CD-ROM. 
As an investigation proceeds, new information can be added to records, and the
user can even create new fields in the data records.
Every copy of MarketPlace: Surveillance comes with demonstration
data, based on 1930's KGB files.  "We used the Russian data,
frankly, because it was so cheap," said Dorkar.  "They sold us this
doesn't have much value anyway, most of the people in the database
were purged long ago."
After the user purchases MarketPlace: Surveillance, they send in a registration
form for real data.  They then have the demo data to play with and fantasize
about, while their real data is on its way.  The user must specify what region
of the U.S or other country they want data for.  Each disk contains data on
approximately 12 million citizens, legal aliens, and other people.  One region
comes free with the program, and others may be purchased for $100 each. "We
have the U.S., most of Central and South America, and several Asian countries
available," Dorkar said.  "We will try to introduce Africa and the Middle East
in time for Christmas.  We hope to bring one or two of the Canadian provinces
on board too.  Hopefully, the EC (European Common Market) will be in some day,
but that's at least two years out, they're just not ready."
Anticipating criticism of the product, Dorkar addressed security
and privacy concerns:
        [The developers of MarketPlace] implemented a number of
        controls that go far beyond traditional practices for the
        security community.  Besides limiting the data to what is
        readily available as a matter of public record, Census data
        profiling, and similar sources most governments can already
        access, we have taken three additional and important steps:
          (1) We are offering the product only to legitimate
              governments and businesses.
          (2) We provide people with an option to have their names
              removed from the database.
          (3) We are educating and advising users of the proper
            legal and ethical responsibilities for list usage.
To remove their names from the database, people need only call Lotus at
1-800-328-7448, and give a Lotus operator their name, date of birth, social
security number, and why they don't want to be in the database.  The Lotus
operator will then roll two dice to determine which of 25 complex and expensive
methods the person will be required to use to be removed from the database.  An
exception is if the operator rolls doubles.  In that case, the operator will
take all of the information over the phone, then send two guys with baseball
bats to visit your house within three business days.
All of the people who ask to be removed are purged from the database.  Their
names and social security numbers are kept on a separate list, so they will
never reappear in the standard database.  The separate list is, however,
available on CD-ROM for $200, twice the regular price.
Dorkar concluded by vociferously defending MarketPlace: Surveillance, spittle
flying from his lips: "Some people argue that the information collected in
Lotus MarketPlace: Surveillance should not be available.  However, this
information is really already really readily readable, either as a matter of
public record or through thousands of other lists and database sources.  For
example, the FBI alone has files on literally millions of Americans."
"Access to information is one of the benefits of a free society. In developing
MarketPlace: Surveillance, Lotus and its data providers have strived to balance
the right to privacy with the freedom of information that is a hallmark of our

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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