Appearing on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show last week, Fox anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle proposed the latest right-wing conspiracy theory about the Car Allowance Rebate System (commonly referred to as “cash for clunkers”) — that it is a secret plot to allow the government to control your computer:
GUILFOYLE: They are jumping right inside you, seizing all of your personal and private information, and absolutely legal, Glenn, they can do it [...] They can continue to track you, basically forever, once they’ve tapped into your system, the government of course has, like, malware systems, and tracking cookies, and they can tap in any time they want.
Guilfoyle may be worried about the “Terms of Service” on a government site. But as Hugh D’Andrade at the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, these agreements do not give the government the right to tap into your system “any time they want.” “Moreover, the law has long forbidden the government from requiring you to give up unrelated constitutional rights (here the 4th Amendment right to be free from search and seizure) as a condition of receiving discretionary government benefits like participation in the Cars [sic] for Clunkers program,” adds D’Andrade.
It joins other conservative attacks against the CARS program, which has been so successful that it has spurred the first increase in sales from any U.S.-based automaker since November 2007. The House recently voted to add an additional $2 billion to the program, and the Senate is expected to vote this week on replenishing its funds.