Almost Leaky

by Amy Zidell

If I hear Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides say that Hacking a Public Web Site is okay, one more time, I'm going to scream. Well rather than scream, I find myself compelled to put piling up projects on hold while I write about something truly outrageous and frightening for California voters.

No doubt international headlines were made about our good Governor's 'Hot Blooded" comments regarding California assemblywoman, Bonnie Garcia, who, according to the said, "Very often I tell him [Governor Schwarzenegger], 'Look, I am a hot-blooded Latina.' I label myself a hot-blooded Latina that is very passionate about the issues, and this is kind of an inside joke that I have with the governor."

I'm guessing far less reaching is the news that the California Highway Patrol is investigating computer hacking that was employed to get the audio snippet that existed for Schwarzenegger's speech writing staff. Said hacking courtesy of democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides staffers.

Throughout the day the news update on talk radio (640 AM KFI) has played a sound byte of Angelides in response to the hacking investigation. To effect, Angelides replies to questions about his office LEAKING the Arnold sound byte, that, "hacking was done on a public Web Site." A public Web Site? Without getting into a discussion of internet versus intranet and more, think about the complete scary scary outrageousness and utter wrongness of such a comment. Phil Angelides' comment suggests he believes hacking a, 'public' Web Site is perfectly okay. It is not.,,, most of the internet for that matter are all Public Web Sites. Yet it is a major problem when hackers hack into such Sites and steal customer information. Whether you are talking about someone vandalizing a Web Site, stealing information, stealing/copying content, executing denial of services attacks, farming for emails to spam, or downloading an audio file and releasing it to the media there are numerous legal and moral defects at play during such activity.

I find Angelides' comments frightening. It demonstrates true core beliefs of Angelides. I suppose a public museum has no claim if someone takes a painting home with them. Even subtle analysis of his 'hacking a public Web Site is okay' comment reveals a lack of support of private property rights. The anti-Angelides campaigns talk of excessive taxation he would implement and it's not a stretch to see disrespect of private property being companionable with excessive taxation.

The suggestion that the audio clip was leaked is as absurd as the 'hacking is good' mantra. The audio clip was stolen and distributed without consent. I'm not sure what type of legal counsel Angelides has, but his implication that it's okay to hack any Site at all is truly troubling. Just because a movie is shown in a theatre in public doesn't give anyone the right to copy and distribute that movie. That would be theft and is routinely called piracy.

What does he think qualifies a Web Site as being public? Do you not need a password to access the Site? The ubiquitous nature of the Internet indeed makes the subject of public Web versus private Web an intense study and topic. Certainly not something trivial to be denigrated as unimportant not worthy of thoughtful analysis. Considering that California is the incubator of so many things Web, and the amount of the State's economy tied to the Internet, I find Angelides' remarks decidedly anti-tech and bordering on unCalifornian.

This Web Site is public, but you can't copy this content and claim it as your own. I also wouldn't appreciate you stealing my code. Or distributing the content without my permission. The Internet is a wonderfully sharing environment. Site owners and designers often get tips, ideas, and inspirations from other Sites. Copying somebody's Site is not cool, not okay, and not legal.

I strongly disagree with Angelides' comments that basically if it's public, it is subject to a free-for-all. I don't want a Governor who thinks that way. I want a Governor who respects private property, my right to have it, and my right to defend it. Where does the, "it's okay to violate something public," end? Our borders? Is that public land?

It's not okay with me and shouldn't be okay to California voters. Sure Arnold was speaking like Arnold does at times and not how he should as our Governor, but he apologized for his behavior. Rather than apologize for the outrageous and sleazy campaign tactics, Angelides justified and IN NO WAY DENIED the criminal behavior of hacking into a computer system.

I am a member of the public. I am here to tell you, I won't tolerate anyone hacking me and neither should you. Even if you are not a fan of Arnold, I think you must acknowledge you probably don't want a pirate in the Governor's mansion in Sacramento.

© 2006 Amy Zidell

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