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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Bringing new meaning to the words “intel inside”, Dell has apparently been installing hardware-based keyloggers for the Department of Homeland Security. DHS wouldn’t respond to his FOIA requests, so we don’t know the purpose, scope, or usage of the keylogger. If DHS didn’t have anything to do with it (and Dell’s furtive response suggests something sinister), then they would have stated as much instead of denying the request for exemption. Then again, this administration isn’t known for its disclosure.

I can’t fault Dell for this since they really wouldn’t have had a choice—I’m sure any modern computer is going to have these things in them. I’m just glad that I have older-model laptops.

[UPDATE: It sounds completely plausible since I’m sure that the DHS (and all the other law enforcement agencies under its umbrella) would just love to have such a device out there and the current environment seems to trounce privacy in favor of security, but there’s a part of me that’s very skeptical about this story. First, he’s gothad three versions of the same basic theme on his site. (As I wrote that last sentence, they’re gone. Even more odd.) Second, there’s nothing personally identifiable about his site. Finally, the whois information is conflicting and the domain isn’t know for credibility. That’s not to say that it’s not true, just that there’s some lingering doubts in my mind.]

[UPDATE 2: The removed other versions were just more nicely formatted, had less pictures, and one version said that the FOIA response came in days while the other said weeks. Probably not a big deal. The site’s owner may have removed the other versions because they were initial drafts.]

[UPDATE (6/17/05): Okay, it was a hoax. Good to know.]

[UPDATE 2 (6/17/05): Snopes clinches it. I checked there first before I posted this originally, but there was nothing about it. I also searched with Google.]

[UPDATE (6/19/05): More analysis of the hoax here.]