RE: cuecat device

Subject: RE: cuecat device
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 13:53:33 -0400

Where has have you all been for the last ten years? Between credit
card/debit card magnetic stripes, frequent buyer and discount cards, and bar
coding at the retail level, hackers groups everywhere, phone cards and
various other technologies, "they" already have all this information about
you. The only thing new about cuecat is that it can track your web usage
patterns and predict your buying habits and interests as a result.

Same story next verse.


Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Hartzer [mailto:BHartzer -at- cha-systems -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2000 1:07 PM
Subject: re: cuecat device


A friend forwarded this to me and I thought you'd be interested
in seeing it. I plan on staying FAR away from the Cue Cat!
Radio Shack and the Dallas Morning News and Channel 8 WFAA are trying
to shove it down our throats, so beware! It's just another way
for them to get your personal information!

Tell everyone you know to stay away!


Beware Of The CueCat

Surely you've heard of the CueCat by now: It's a free, pen-style bar-
code scanner being given away by a company called Digital Convergence

in what they're calling the largest, fastest hardware rollout in
computer history: They plan to distribute 50 million of the devices
by the end of next year.

Here in the US, it's being promoted in newspapers, magazines, and on
television; it's also being handed out in the national chain of Radio
Shack stores. You almost can't avoid it.

The primary benefit of the CueCat is that you can scan in specially-
formatted bar-code information printed in ads; the bar-code is
usually just a URL. The CueCat software turns the scanned code into a
standard URL and feeds it to your browser, which then takes you to
the page.

It seems a little silly to me to have to install extra hardware and
software (with all the concomitant potential for instability therein)
primarily to avoid typing a URL: CueCat seems a product aimed at raw
newbies who are terrified of typing "http:" or who don't know that
most browsers don't even need the "http://www."; (For example, in most
browsers, and get you to the same

And there are major privacy concerns: To use a CueCat, you have to
register it, which involves providing personal information (name,
email, zip code, gender, age...) to Digital Convergence. Plus, each
CueCat has a unique serial number software-embedded inside it. This
gives the company everything it needs to track you: Because it knows
who you are and which CueCat you own, the company can, if it chooses,
track every ad you ever scan. By using a CueCat to go to a web site
instead of simply typing the URL, Digital Convergence now has a way
to "look over your shoulder" as you shop.

Worse, their database was set up poorly, and that treasure-trove of
online personal information almost immediately came under attack by
bad hackers---"crackers"--- who successfully stole at least some of
the personal information there. This is not confidence-inspiring.

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