Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You gotta be spoofin' me (as my father might say)

There is now a service called SpoofTel, that actually allows you to spoof the number that shows up on caller ID when you call others' cell phone numbers. What's more, the link is actually in rotation in Google Mail's new Web Clips service (one line ads and news links XML'd to the top of the mail listings). The blurb on the site's front page claims that this allows users to protect their privacy while making cell phone calls. Um, excuse me, but how is this any different from spoofing email headers? What's to stop unscrupulous telemarketers (imagine that!) from getting hold of this, if they haven't already, and going to town with it? As it is, they already send little or no info with their calls. All they need now is some kind of way to send spyware into your cell phone so they'll know what trusted numbers to spoof? With all the info they buy already about each and every one of us, what's one more bunch of bytes? (And I hope there aren't any conspiracy theorists reading this -- be assured that if I've thought of it, someone with the money and means to see it through has already done so a thousand times over.)

And with all the fuss over perceived loss of privacy through GMail's targeted ads in user's browser windows alongside their mail, why would Google even want to be involved in this mess? How can this not make people less secure with Google's promises that they value their users' privacy?

Somebody didn't do a very good job of thinking things through here.

PS -- Not only did someone drop the ball when deciding to let SpoofTel's ads through, but when I used Blogger's spell-check on this post, the spell-checker didn't recognize Google, GMail, or XML. I had to tell the checker to "learn" those terms. When a company that lives and dies by the Internet makes a tool available to the public, a tool with an included spell-checker, I would think that said company would make sure that the checker recognizes the company's name and the names of its main services without having to be "told."

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