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: name social security number address 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 gender 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 society."
(From the "Rest" of RHF)