Rep. Gohmert's Record For Stunning Technological Ignorance Is Broken By... Rep. Gohmert

from the having-quite-a-week dept

My goodness. Yesterday we posted about Rep. Louis Gohmert's incredible, head-shakingly ignorant exchange with lawyer Orin Kerr during a Congressional hearing concerning "hacking" and the CFAA. In that discussion, Gohmert spoke out in favor of being able to "hack back" and destroy the computers of hackers -- and grew indignant at the mere suggestion that this might have unintended consequences or lead people to attack the wrong targets. Gohmert thought that such talk was just Kerr trying to protect hackers.

I thought perhaps Rep. Gohmert was just having a bad day. Maybe he's having a bad month. In a different hearing, held yesterday concerning ECPA reform, Gohmert opened his mouth again, and it was even worse. Much, much worse. Cringe-inducingly clueless. Yell at your screen clueless. Watch for yourself, but be prepared to want to yell.
The short version of this is that he seems to think that when Google has advertisements on Gmail, that's the same thing as selling all of the information in your email to advertisers. And no matter how many times Google's lawyer politely tries to explain the difference, Gohmert doesn't get it. He thinks he's making a point -- smirking the whole time -- that what Google does is somehow the equivalent of government snooping, in that he keeps asking if Google can just "sell" access to everyone's email to the government. I'm going to post a transcript below, and because I simply cannot not interject how ridiculously uninformed Gohmert's line of questioning is, I'm going to interject in the transcript as appropriate.
Rep. Gohmert: I was curious. Doesn't Google sell information acquired from emails to different vendors so that they can target certain individuals with their promotions?

Google lawyer whose name I didn't catch: Uh, no, we don't sell email content. We do have a system -- similar to the system we have for scanning for spam and malware -- that can identify what type of ads are most relevant to serve on email messages. It's an automated process. There's no human interaction. Certainly, the email is not sold to anybody or disclosed.

Gohmert: So how do these other vendors get our emails and think that we may be interested in the products they're selling.
Okay, already we're off to a great start in monumental ignorance. The initial question was based on a complete falsehood -- that Google sells such information -- and after the lawyer told him that this is not true, Gohmert completely ignores that and still asks how they get the emails. It never seems to occur to him that they don't get the emails.
Google lawyer: They don't actually get your email. What they're able to do is through our advertising business be able to identify keywords that they would like to trigger the display of one of their ads, but they don't get information about who the user is or any...

Gohmert: Well that brings me back. So they get information about keywords in our emails that they use to decide who to send promotions to, albeit automatically done. Correct?
NO. Not correct. In fact, that's the exact opposite of what the lawyer just said. Gohmert can't seem to comprehend that Google placing targeted ads next to emails has NOTHING to do with sending any information back to the advertiser. I wonder, when Rep. Gohmert turns on his television to watch the evening news, does he think that the TV station is sending his name, address, channel watching info, etc. back to advertisers? That's not how it works. At all. The advertisers state where they want their ads to appear, and Google's system figures out where to place the ads. At no point does any information from email accounts go back to anyone. And yet Gohmert keeps asking.

And not understanding the rather basic answers. Unfortunately, the lawyer tries to actually explain reality to Gohmert in a professional and detailed manner, when it seems clear that the proper way to answer his questions is in shorter, simpler sentences such as: "No, that's 100% incorrect."
Lawyer: The email context is used to identify what ads are most relevant to the user...

Gohmert: And do they pay for the right or the contractual ability to target those individuals who use those keywords?

Lawyer: I might phrase that slightly differently, but the gist is correct, that advertisers are able to bid for the placement of advertisements to users, where our system has detected might be interested in the advertisement.

Gohmert: Okay, so what would prevent the federal government from making a deal with Google, so they could also "Scroogle" people, and say "I want to know everyone who has ever used the term 'Benghazi'" or "I want everyone who's ever used... a certain term." Would you discriminate against the government, or would you allow the government to know about all emails that included those words?
Okay, try not to hit your head on your desk after that exchange. First, he (perhaps accidentally) gets a statement more or less correct, that advertisers pay to have their ads show up, but immediately follows that up with something completely unrelated to that. First, he tosses in "Scroogled" -- a term that Microsoft uses in its advertising against Gmail and in favor of Outlook.com -- suggesting exactly where this "line" of questioning may have originated. Tip to Microsoft lobbyists, by the way: if you want to put Google on the hot seat, it might help to try a line of questioning that actually makes sense.

Then, the second part, you just have to say huh? The lawyer already explained, repeatedly, that Google doesn't send any information back to the advertiser, and yet he's trying to suggest that the government snooping through your email is the same thing... and Google somehow not giving the government that info is Google "discriminating" against the government? What? Really?
Lawyer [confounded look] Uh... sir, I think those are apples and oranges. I think the disclosure of the identity...

Gohmert: I'm not asking for a fruit comparison. I'm just asking would you be willing to make that deal with the government? The same one you do with private advertisers, so that the government would know which emails are using which words.
Seriously? I recognize that there are no requirements on intelligence to get elected to Congress, but is there anyone who honestly could not comprehend what he meant by saying it's "apples and oranges"? But, clearly he does not understand that because not only does he mock the analogy, he then repeats the same question in which he insists -- despite the multiple explanations that state the exact opposite -- that advertisers get access to emails and information about email users, and that the government should be able to do the same thing.
Lawyer: Thank you, sir. I meant by that, that it isn't the same deal that's being suggested there.

Gohmert: But I'm asking specifically if the same type of deal could be made by the federal government? [some pointless rant about US government videos aired overseas that is completely irrelevant and which it wasn't worth transcribing] But if that same government will spend tens of thousands to do a commercial, they might, under some hare-brained idea like to do a deal to get all the email addresses that use certain words. Couldn't they make that same kind of deal that private advertisers do?
Holy crap. Gohmert, for the fourth time already, nobody gets email addresses. No private business gets the email addresses. No private business gets to see inside of anyone's email. Seeing inside someone's email has nothing to do with buying ads in email. If the government wants to "do the same deal as private advertisers" then yes it can advertise on Gmail... and it still won't get the email addresses or any other information about emailers, because at no point does Google advertising work that way.
Lawyer: We would not honor a request from the government for such a...

Gohmert: So you would discriminate against the government if they tried to do what your private advertisers do?
No. No. No. No. No. The lawyer already told you half a dozen times, no. The government can do exactly what private advertisers do, which is buy ads. And, just like private advertisers, they would get back no email addresses or any such information.
Lawyer: I don't think that describes what private advertisers...

Gohmert: Okay, does anybody here have any -- obviously, you're doing a good job protecting your employer -- but does anybody have any proposed legislation that would assist us in what we're doing?
What are we doing, here? Because it certainly seems like you're making one of the most ignorant arguments ever to come out of an elected officials' mouth, and that's saying quite a bit. You keep saying "private advertisers get A" when the reality is that private advertisers get nothing of the sort -- and then you ignore that (over and over and over and over again) and then say "well if private advertisers get A, why can't the government get A." The answer is because neither of them get A and never have.
Gohmert: I would be very interested in any phrase, any clauses, any items that we might add to legislation, or take from existing legislation, to help us deal with this problem. Because I am very interested and very concerned about our privacy and our email.
If you were either interested or concerned then you would know that no such information goes back to advertisers before you stepped into the room (hell, before you got elected, really). But, even if you were ignorant of that fact before the hearing, the fact that the lawyer tried half a dozen times, in a half a dozen different ways to tell you that the information is not shared should have educated you on that fact. So I'm "very interested" in what sort of "language" Gohmert is going to try to add to legislation that deals with a non-existent problem that he insists is real.
Gohmert: And just so the simpletons that sometimes write for the Huffington Post understand, I don't want the government to have all that information.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: For the point of personal privilege, my son writes for the Huffington Post.

Gohmert: Well then maybe he's not one of the simpletons I was referring to.

Sensenbrenner: He does have a Phd.

Gohmert: Well, you can still be a PHUL.
Har, har, har... wait, what? So much insanity to unpack. First of all, Gohmert seems to think that people will be making fun of him for suggesting that the government should "buy" access to your email on Google. And, yes, we will make fun of that, but not for the reasons that he thinks they will. No one thinks that Gohmert seriously wants the government to buy access to information on Google. What everyone's laughing (or cringing) at is the idea that anyone could buy that info, because you can't. No private advertiser. No government. It's just not possible.

But, I guess we're all just "simpletons."

Seriously, however, we as citizens deserve better politicians. No one expects politicians to necessarily understand every aspect of technology, but there are some simple concepts that you should at least be able to grasp when explained to you repeatedly by experts. When a politician repeatedly demonstrates no ability to comprehend a rather basic concept -- and to then granstand on their own ignorance -- it's time to find better politicians. Quickly.


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    Rikuo (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:17am

    Due to the fact I head-desked repeatedly over a previous article (can't remember which one, thanks to the concussion), I found myself with no alternative than to head-wall...uhhh...what's going on and why is there a big crack in the wall....ah crap, the landlord is looking a bit pissed off.



    Gotta go guys, turns out I may need to go to the ER. Can someone send the bill to Gohmert for me?

     

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    S. T. Stone, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Can we start catapulting people such as him into the ocean?

    At least we’d make far better use of him as entertainment material that way.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:26am

      Re:

      No, but if we catapult them to, say, Somalia, we'll solve their waste problems AND ours at a stroke.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:36am

        Re: Re:

        I'm pretty sure that would classify as an act of war, similar to lobbing a couple of missiles their way, but way more unpleasant to the recipient.

         

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:28am

      Re:

      At least he appears to care about the public. Pity he's not bright enough to do anything constructive.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:38am

        Re: Re:

        From the terminology, it sounds a lot more like he's just a shill for microsoft.

         

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          Chosen Reject (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's the first thing I thought of when I heard him say scroogled. If politicians had to wear logos of who finances them NASCAR style (lobbying, campaign, or otherwise) , this guy has got to have a Microsoft logo that would take up his whole suit coat. He might as well be wearing a Sounders FC jersey.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 4:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I not sure why it still shocks me that congresscritter would do something that carries such a blatant appearance of corruption as to quote anti-company x by company y ads to a representative of company x in a public hearing.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 3:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          don't be an idiot. this guy is showing utter ignorance of how advertising works on the internet. Microsoft know better than that.

           

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        Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:22pm

        Re: WTF????

        How exactly did you get that he appears to care about the public??? It's quite obvious what this is all about.

        He is a standard congresscritter. He was receiving or sending an email to his mistress/girlfriend and he happened to notice a Viagra or Cialis ad targeting him. He freaked out and just had to know who else was reading his email. He panicked and decided legislation needed to be enacted to keep the FBI off his ass.

         

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          ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

          Re: Re: WTF????

          Very often, congresscritters only care about the public when they're reminded that they're part of the public.

          And, like I said, not too bright.

           

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    bschmalz (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    RE

    I am going to buy some Duct Tape to wrap around my head to attempt to keep it from exploding.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:29am

    I don't blame the lawyer for failing to switch tactics, or attempting to repeat what he said. Being confronted with a level of willful ignorance of something so basic is like getting hit in the head with a metal baseball bat. It's just stunning especially when it comes from someone that you're expecting to know better, like from anyone over the age of eight.

    I feel for that poor Google lawyer. I guarantee he walked out of that room still trying to figure out what just happened, and he'll only really figure out what he should have said several hours later while he's getting lambasted for failing so miserably at his job.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      The lawyer just needed to cut to the chase and say outright "Yes, we will give the government exactly the same access as we give to any other company".

       

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        Shmerl, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re:

        He had to say it directly as is: "Excuse me, but you didn't understand what I say, so please let me explain it more". And as many times as necessary until the the rep. could understand or admit that he has no clue.

         

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        Dirkmaster (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re:

        *I* think he should have said "Sir, you already have that information. Perhaps you should talk to the NSA. No reason to pay for it twice."

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

        Re: Re:

        But that makes it sound like his description of the access is accurate. It's like answering 'when will you stop raping children' with 'as soon as possible.'

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 9:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's the trick, of course. It doesn't acknowledge that the representative's assertion is accurate, but does honestly and fairly answer the question he's actually asking.

           

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      Jobo, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 4:10am

      Re:

      I feel like the Google lawyer failed to simply clarify that "we do not provide email addresses of keyword users to our advertisers". Gohmert seems to think the advertising contact flows in the opposite direction than it does.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    Is Gohmert safe in public without his carers?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    There are no requirements on intelligence...

    I recognize that there are no requirements on intelligence to get elected to Congress [...]

    And that's a problem. I've long advocated that all elected and appointed offices should come with minimum intelligence and literacy requirements -- and that those should be proportional to the scope and power of the office. (E.g., the requirements for a member of the US House should be higher than those for a member of a state house but lower than those for a cabinet official.)

    YES, I am painfully aware that testing methodologies leave a lot to be desired. I know that (pretty much) all of them suck in different ways. But so does having illiterate, ignorant morons like this in positions of power. So let's at least make a first-cut attempt at it: make 'em take a general IQ test, the SAT, the ACT, the GRE, and whatever else we can throw in. Let's set thresholds (and we can even make them generously low to start with) and require that prospective office-holders surpass them before being appointed or filing for candidacy.

    I know this isn't strictly democratic or inclusive. I don't care. When we allow chimps like Bush to become President and baboons like Gohmert anywhere near the mechanisms of government, it costs us dearly.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

      Re: There are no requirements on intelligence...

      Intelligence does not eliminate the selective deafness displayed here by a man pursuing proof of a preformed opinion.

       

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      Aerilus, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

      Re: There are no requirements on intelligence...

      He would probably qualify

      "Gohmert was born in Pittsburg, Texas. He received his B.A. from Texas A&M University in 1975. At A&M, he was a brigade commander of the Corps of Cadets and class president. He later received his Juris Doctor from Baylor University in Waco in 1977 where he also served as class president. Gohmert served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, at Fort Benning, Georgia, from 1978 to 1982. The majority of his U.S. Army legal service was as a defense attorney." Wikipedia

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    What is the process for removing an elected congressman due to egregious incompetence?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:37am

      Re:

      Seeing that it was the egregious incompetence of the general voting public that elected him in the first place, I'd say you have a fairly large uphill battle...

       

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      Zos (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:42am

      Re:

      i believe it's called "wait for him to die off"

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

        Re: Re:

        Politicians have been "dying off" since the beginning, Yet we still get really stupid ones.

        Seems that stupidity is not limited to just one generation.

         

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      That One Guy (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      Unfortunately, unless they do something outright illegal, it's basically 'suck it up and don't elect them next time'.

      If politicians were immediately able to get booted from office for their actions, they would be a lot more careful to not screw over the general public so much, rather than the current approach of 'do whatever you want, just make sure to reign things in when election time closes, and hope none of your opponents(including the voters) has a decent memory'.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 5:02pm

      Re:

      Follow him with a camera phone until you get a picture that causes him to decide to spend more time with his family.

       

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Jesus Christ I'm glad you demonstrated your irritation in the article, prevented me from getting irritated too. It is clear he does not wish to listen to anything. He has his ideas set in stone by divine fire and lightning.

    There's no use trying to discuss with such morons. What Google could and should do is issue an official statement and plaster all over the web explaining in a detailed way how things work. The dangerous part here is that this moron will spread his stupidity and many will buy hence the need for clarification QUOTING him and pointing where he's wrong (like TD did). And send a copy via paper letter via snail mail to Gohmert. I'm afraid he's too stupid to use an e-mail properly.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    He's from Texas...

    Seriously, are all the Southern states filled with utter morons or something? First we had Lamar Smith, then we had the Georgia fellow earlier today, now this?

    Seriously, who put stupid in the water supply down there?

     

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      Some Other AC (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

      Re: He's from Texas...

      As a Texan, I am repeatedly disappointed by a large number of the political idiots that push themselves out into the public view. To explain this one's ignorance, he was elected to serve Eastern Texas, as in Tyler, TX...home to one of the most ignorant of the federal court systems in the country.
      Just listening to him speak made me want to ram rusty 10 penny nails thru my ears.

       

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      Jay (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

      Re: He's from Texas...

      *ahem*

      Let's lay off the Texas jokes a bit? Some of us are trying to fix it but we run onto a problem of propaganda and ignorance over good government.

       

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        silverscarcat (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 3:06am

        Re: Re: He's from Texas...

        Well, do keep trying.

        I mean, sheesh, you guys have Rick Perry, Lamar Smith, and now this guy from Texas.

        Bush II came from Texas as its governor before he became President...

        I'm not saying all politicians from Texas are that bad, hell, I hold contempt for my own politicians at times as being too ignorant of how the world works, but, it really does look bad when you have those guys, you know?

         

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          Cynyr (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:02am

          Re: Re: Re: He's from Texas...

          I'd say something about the south, but I'm from MN, and I'd like to apologize for Michelle Bachman.

          That said, this guy clearly didn't want anything other than the answer he already had in his head. That much was clear. Could the lawyer asked for a whiteboard and attempted a drawing explaining how the system worked, and asked that questions be held until the end?

           

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      RadialSkid (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 6:28pm

      Re: He's from Texas...

      Tempted to hit the "Report" button, but I won't. Just lay off the anti-South bullshit. It's not funny, it's not enlightening, and far too many people end up believing it, which reflects poorly on those of us who live there.

       

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        silverscarcat (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 3:02am

        Re: Re: He's from Texas...

        I apologize, I wasn't trying to paint all the people from the South that way, just most of the politicians.

        Seriously, what is UP with all the politicians from the South? About the only one who makes sense is Ron Paul and he's considered a loon by most people.

        Doesn't help that three politicians from Texas are Rick Perry, Lamar Smith and now Gohmert.

        Don't forget that Bush was Texas governor before becoming President.

        Not saying that people from the South are bad, I've got friends down in Florida, but there are some CRAZY people in charge from that area.

         

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          RadialSkid (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 5:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: He's from Texas...

          Thanks for the level-headed response. And sure, Southern politicians are a weird breed, but then again so are most politicians in general. They tend to be flamboyant, grandstanding types to begin with, but you combine that with "home spun" charm and you end up with something...weird.

           

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:41am

    BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

    "at no point does Google advertising work that way." -- SEZ YOU! Taking the word of mega-corp Google, when they're clearly in the DO EVIL stage.

    And you're basically just deflecting valid questions here: the lawyer fumbles because direct answer would spill the beans.

    Unless Google IS stopped at some point, what are you going to do AFTER they've gone further? Again, you're just blithely asserting that it's benign and will stay so. -- Stick to fantasy football, Mike, cause you suck at where everything isn't above-board and there are bad actors.



    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
    http://techdirt.com/
    Where Mike's "no evidence of real harm" means he wants to let secretive mega-corporations continue to grow.

     

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      James Burkhardt (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:45am

      Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

      "Unless Google IS stopped at some point, what are you going to do AFTER they've gone further? Again, you're just blithely asserting that it's benign and will stay so"

      Sure OOTB might not have raped and murdered over a hundred preteen children in the last decade, but what are going to do once he has?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:50am

      Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

      Actually, we have more than Google's word for this.

      Those of us who work in the anti-spam field have developed some very good methods for discerning who does and doesn't hand over email addresses to third parties. (No, I won't be disclosing them here.) Those methods have been refined over a long period of time and they've proven themselves to be quite accurate.

      If Google was handing over email addresses to third parties, we would be publishing that information and shouting it from the rooftops. Thus far, however, there is no evidence that they're doing so.

      (And yes, we're aware of isolated cases where people have cited anecdotal evidence claiming so. Analysis of these invariably indicates that they're running on insecure or already-compromised computers and thus THEY are the source of the leak in question.)

       

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        jackn, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

        and mine. I use googles platfrom for advertising. Of course, we all know, that is doesn't work the way congressman would like to 'suggest.'

         

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      trish, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:59am

      Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

      hey look its that troll again! REPORT IT!

       

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      angelbar (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

      Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

      If you or the persons that you care need the ultimate assurance that no mail can be selled, then by all means..

      Build or rent YOUR OWN server and domain.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

        A simpler answer is to encrypt all you mail.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

      Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

      "Taking the word of mega-corp Google, when they're clearly in the DO EVIL stage."

      But you have no problem taking the word of Time-Warner, Sony, or any of the other mega-corps you shill for, boy?

      I'd say it was a double standard, but that would imply you have standards.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 7:42pm

      Re: BUT Google COULD AT ANY TIME provide the email addresses TOO.

      i love how you bash mike over letting "secretive mega corperations" while you support the very same artificial scarcity that gives them all that power to use for corrupt purposes in the first place.

      Plus Mike didn't claim google "does no evil", google said that

       

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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Gohmert Pyle.

    I like it. Reminds me of the TV icon who was also just as dim witted.

    And he's in Congress?

    I will start sleeping with both eyes open, now.

     

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    iambinarymind (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    No incentive....

    The politician has no incentive to be informed as he receives his paycheck through state force/aggression (or threat thereof).

    Until we're interacting with individuals on a consensual basis and through voluntary exchange, we will continue to see the ignorance and absurdity that results from state aggression expand like highly aggressive cancer.

     

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      Niall (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 8:44am

      Re: No incentive....

      Why are you using the fruits of state violence (an internet largely paid for and created through 'taxes') at all then? Please bugger off to somewhere remote; do not use the state road system though as that is also the 'fruit of state violence'.

      Sheesh, can someone please buy a large island we can ship all the fundie-libertarians too so they can enjoy the 'fruits' of a libertarian dystopia?

       

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    If I understand what Gohmert was asking, it seems like he was wondering how he keeps getting spam for penis enlargments, and he wants to know how those people got his email, and assume they got it from Google because they're evil and know everything about him. Basically, he totally doesn't understand what Google does, and is totally uninterested in learning.

    Texas, why do you elect idiots!?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    I wish everybody on this planet were as smart and as perfect as Mike Masnick. The way he so carefully chooses his underlings--the Tims, Leigh, and Zack, especially--shows what an incredibly brilliant and perfect leader he is. No one else would have plucked those jewels up like he did, in his unquestionable perfect perfectness. Techdirt is a testament to God's gift to humankind, Mike Masnick. I love to hear him tell us all how stupid everyone else is. Just imagine if Mike were in charge of this nation, with the Tims, Leigh, and Zack by his side. No mistakes would ever be made. Everything would reflect Mike's perfect brilliance. He never says anything dumb. He's the most enlightened human being that ever existed--if he's even human at all. He's super-human, and perfect, and wonderful. Techdirt reminds us each day how perfect he is.

     

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    rasz, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Im on the fence with this one. This lawyer tries very hard NOT to say "we dont give that information to our clients".

    In fact google DOES give out that information in a form of adsense logs (ip/location/age group/gender).

    So instead of selling your email google lets you set a dragnet triggering on certain keywords - everyone who fits it will end up in your adsense log.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

      Re:

      The problem is the congressman thinks that the advertisers know (specifically) who they are targeting rather than what kinds of people (location/age group/gender/keywords/etc) they are targeting.

      In other words it's no more a privacy issue than having a membership card at a grocery store so they can determine what kinds of products you buy so they can target you with ads/sales

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      What does it give out if you've opted out of personalized ads? Blocked that advertiser?

       

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    Trish, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    lolz

    Gohmert: I'm not asking for a fruit comparison.
    HAHA! I love it when people get snarky when they're in the wrong. It makes them look so indubitably stupid.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Something like that has been done. When I was in high school, one teacher I one mine had a kid who had broken into a computer installation, and they destroyed the kids computer by sending a high voltage current down the phone line and frying the kid's computer.

    SO the idea of destroying someone's computer is not new, and now this guy wants to legalise that kind of thing? That is totally nuts

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      Wrong article and I would just fucking love to see your source...how the fuck would a PHONE line carry enough current to fry the computer, and if in some bizarre reality this is actually true, then I hope the teacher was threatened with attempted fucking murder.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

        Re: Re:

        You have apparently never heard of lightning...Happens quite often both from the power line and telephone lines.

         

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          silverscarcat (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And you have apparently not heard of power converters and surge protectors designed to stop that sort of thing.

          Besides, if that happened, other people would be affected as well since the AC/DC converter box was just nuked in an attempt to wreck one computer.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            My point exactly...if it wasn't possible, you wouldn't need protection.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Power converters and surge protectors protect against surges from lightning missing phone and power lines. Direct lightning strikes can and do vaporize 20 ft of 3 inch by 1/8 inch copper earthing straps, along with 5 miles of phone line and parts of the exchange it connected to. It also took out the television transmitters and several racks worth of electronics.

             

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          Jerry Tanner, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So... God destroyed this kid's computer?

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

        Re: Re:

        "how the fuck would a PHONE line carry enough current to fry the computer"

        Back in the "old days" of modems, a telephone line was just a pair of copper wires that runs from the phone to the telephone central. And yes, there was a pair of wires for EACH phone in the country (well, at least in my country there was).

        One fun thing you could actually do (and I did once) was plug an analogue phone into those lines half-way and listen in on other people's conversations. A sort of "man-in-the-middle" attack.

        Anyway, if the computer was connected to the analogue line via modem you could theoretically fry the computer by sending a very high current down the line. That could easily be done by unplugging the wires at the other end and sticking them into the wall socket. *evil grin*

        This would not be easy to do on a digital line, though. Mostly because you can't guarantee that you won't be frying anything else down the line.

         

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          Chris-Mouse (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          110vac would not 'fry' anything connected to the phone line. For starters, the ring signal is 90VAC. Anything capable of handling 90V with a reasonable safety margin can handle 110V.
          Secondly, phone lines are required to withstand what would at first appear to be insane voltage levels. In North America, the phone lines must withstand 1500 volts. The reason is because above ground phone lines typically run along the electrical poles, and the phone company doesn't want to be responsible for setting a couple of blocks of houses on fire just because a live electrical wire happens to drop onto the phone wire below.
          Any time I hear a story of something being intentionally fried by way of the phone lines, I have to see some pretty good evidence before I'll believe it.

           

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            AzureSky (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            i have only seen it once, and it was a 4 square block area due to lightning strikes(4 on the same exchange in a short period)

            anything hooked to the phone lines coming out of the area of the exchange effected was smoked, i knew 6 people in that area who where very lucky to have APC surge protectors(before apc went to crap), they all had their phone line running thru the apc, every one of them's apc was fried, as was the computer and phone hooked to the apc.....

            apc covered it, the phone company also covered it but it took them 14 months to pay off, then they only paid back a % of the lost in money the rest was given via discounts on your phone bill.....(im really not kidding, i wish i was...)

            but, thats the only time I have heard of a major loss due to phone line surges.....funny enough, there was also damage in some cases to stuff on the normal power in some homes due to surge threw computers/fax machiens.....(yeah, again, i was like WTF....but i saw it with my own eyes)

            in the end, it sold alot of apc and triplite UPS's after word got out that APC and TripLite where paying out faster then the phone company was.....

            oh and yes it made the papers, and there was even a pretty detailed explanation of what happened, in effect the surge protection between the exchange and the homes/businesses connected had fuzed with the first strike.....the pictures where interesting, im sure the company that made the surge suppression system had to pay out or got sued as well....because clearly i didnt work at all....

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

      Re:

      Your teacher is either lying or misremembering a particularly hilarious physically impossible event from the Left Behind series of Christian novels. There is no way at all to do this in the real world. Sure, you could maybe crack the BIOS and overclock the CPU until it burns out but I would LOVE to see someone try to do that remotely without being detected.

       

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        jackn, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

        Re: Re:

        no, it can be done and was easy when modems and copper was the network

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          [citation needed]

           

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            AzureSky (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            google around for what spiking is, it was possible to "spike" somebody but, not the way described and not via "hacking", my grandmother got spiked once the phone company replaced her phone the next day(was an accident, they where trying to find a bad something or other on the exchange and didnt disconnect something so a few peoples phones got damaged, no big deal really, i kinda think it was used to find bad caps, since a spike is one way to pop a weak cap)

            again though, the story dosnt add up, the teacher would have to be at the old time phone exchange and would have to know how to physically do it, nothing was automated back then...

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 6:44pm

      Re:

      Spoken like someone who has no actual concept of how electricity works. A phone line inside the home is far too small to carry the current required to do what you suggest. High voltage? High voltage doesn't do shit. Current is what causes the damage. You can stand in a room that has been charged with a few million volts of power. If there is no current, meaning it is static, you don't feel a thing. Now, a 30ga wire isn't going to carry more than a couple microamps before it is in danger of burning out. Poof. Gone.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Somebody needs to install AdBlock on that guy's PC (provided he has one). Maybe he'll think Google has stopped "selling his emails to advertisers" and calm down.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      Adblock has nothing to do with email. It blocks most ads you see on web-pages, but as far as I know won't block the ads you see in your Gmail (if I'm wrong, please correct me)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

        Re: Re:

        You're wrong,it doesn't even render the ad bar as normal when AB+ is active.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't think Adblock will block those ads, but there are plugins/addons to hide them. I use Gmelius for Opera, less for the ad removal and more for the flexible UI adjustments.

        But it's just a CSS tweak to remove the text ads from gmail or even google.com

        The same kind of tweaks will allow you to completely hide the comments section of YouTube, which makes that experience a whole lot better.

         

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Inconcievable!

    The notion that the government would pay Google for private information about its citizen's communications is laughable. Completely laughable. I mean they already have Subpoenas, Warrants, and National Security Letters.

    They'd be more likely to build a gigantic multimillion dollar facility in the Utah desert to surreptitiously collect and store the information themselves. Pay Google; HA!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Blame the Voters

    Even worse than the fact that this person is elected, is that the people elected him!

    We're all doomed!

     

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    Kionae (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    The stupid... it burns!

    Why do I get the distinct impression that had Mr. Google Lawyer simply replied that the ads were placed in people's emails by magic Google Fairies, this would have gone much differently?

     

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    jimb (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    I wasn't expecting this sort of thing for about another 15 years, until some of the many "home-schooled for ideological reasons" kids getting taught that evolution is a liberal conspiracy, that there's no science to support human-caused climate change, or that there's no reason not to literally believe every word written in (insert your religious dogma text of choice) were old enough to elect to Congress. It appears that there is no shortage of people natively stupid enough yet old enough to run for Congress to support this kind of ignorance and imbecility even without the benefits of an education aimed at preserving ignorant beliefs rather than teaching techniques for the application and use of intelligence. The sad thing is Gromert is probably in a 'safe' district and likely immune to removal by election due to the preponderance of 'low information content' voters carefully gerrymandered into the district.

     

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    Rob, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Southern drawl + low IQ + Asperger syndrome

    I remember the first time I heard the "apples and oranges" metaphor, I had no idea what the hell my dad was talking about. Then again, I was three at the time.

    Also, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!!! WTF?

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    To put things in perspective :

    Here's a couple of gems from his wikipedia page...

    -'In a 2012 meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee, Gohmert stated his strong support of a trans-Alaskan pipeline, as a means for caribou to have more sex.

    According to Gohmert, "When [the caribou] want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline. So [his] real concern now [is] … if oil stops running through the pipeline … do we need a study to see how adversely the caribou would be affected if that warm oil ever quit flowing?” Gohmert's comments were not favorably received by the rest of the committee; reportedly, Alaskan representative Don Young was forced to stifle his laughter in response.'


    -'Gohmert does not believe in man made climate change, and has asserted that data supporting the theory is fraudulent. Gohmert has opposed cap-and-trade legislation, such as the one that was passed in the US House when it was Democratic controlled. Gohmert supports expanding drilling, and exploration and drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)'

    -'On July 20, 2012, Gohmert appeared on The Heritage Foundation's "Istook Live!" radio show the day of the July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colorado cinema shootings, which left 12 people dead, and 59 injured. Gohmert blamed the shooting's outcome on the erosion of Judeo-Christian beliefs, and the lack of concealed carriers in the theater.'

    -'On 16 December 2012, two days after the murder of over twenty people at an elementary school, Gohmert appeared on Fox News Sunday and suggested that the tragedy would have never happened had the teachers been armed. He told host Chris Wallace, "I wish to God that she [principal Dawn Hochsprung] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids." He also claimed that the 20 victims who had been killed with a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle had "defensive wounds."

     

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      PRMan, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

      Re: To put things in perspective :

      What's wrong with drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? You bold it like it's a horrible idea.

      Despite its name, it's one of the most remote places on earth. Almost nothing lives there. Parts of it could have disappeared yesterday and you wouldn't know for 10 years.

       

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      Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 23rd, 2013 @ 6:17am

      Re: To put things in perspective :

      He is the voice of his constituents. 'Nuff said.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Scroogle was the name of a search engine using Google as it's base to draw info from. No matter who sent the search terms, Scoogle sent a proxy IP and filtered the ads out, leaving Google with little information to filter through. It failed and closed it's doors due to Google changing it's APIs constantly and being under a near consistent DDOS attack.

    I do not expect that Gohmert knew of this unless he was told it by someone else.

    Remember that this is an example of who makes our laws for the internet as well as the country. It is highly unlikely he understands the complex interactions of other issues any better than he understands email and Google. He's been spoon fed just enough info to make him dangerous without the understanding he needs to make accurate and informed questions nor proposals for bills to become law.

    In essence this is what is happening in Washington at a large scale. We already have a shining example of what happens when someone that really understands the issues and tells them and what happens afterward. The Republican Study Committee put out a report on revamping copyright only to have it removed within 24 hours followed by the firing of Derek Khanna for having the audacity to speak of what really needs done. As long as you are firing the messengers with the understanding of the issues we will return to a replay of Mr. Gohmert over and over as our politicians consistently get it wrong as Mr. Gohmert has demonstrated with his unique misunderstanding of the internet.

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    I know what he did here....

    He used his ability to selectively hear what the google guy was saying. By selectively, I think he heard absolutely nothing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    If he is a Microsoft shill

    MS should seriously ask for their money back. They bought a rejected item.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Mr. Gohmert should really, really look hard at his assistants and see if they are doing their jobs.

    Things that come to mind.

    - Gun for hire.
    - Blackmail(somebody has dirty on this man and is using it)
    - He is truly that dumb.
    - His sources(i.e. assistants, lobbyists) are stupid.

    Is not so much that he asks dumb questions, is that he gives the impression that he wants to guide the questions to a certain outcome that he already decided what it should be and then at the end tries to call up others to join forces with the "I be very interested from hearing from others that have "suggestions" bla bla bla".

    Blatant BS is never a good way to start things, unless when you already know the direction others will go, something that is missing here since he seems to be taking the temperature in an very obvious way.

    This is not a dude that inspires much confidence.

     

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    Divide by Zero (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 12:57pm

    Jesus H. Bananas, what in the sweet fuck was that? I think the earth just shifted slightly on its axis due to the collective headdesking that went on.

    I mean ... there actually aren't words. Stupid, ignorant and arrogant don't even begin to cone close.

     

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    Beech, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Seriously?

    Seriously guys? 68 comments and NO ONE has pointed out the unmitigated IRONY of this guy calling ANYONE a simpleton?! He get's told 5 different ways "No, it doesn't work like that," refuses to understand it, and people who DISAGREE with him are the simpletons?

     

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    Rapnel (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    We are, all of us, woefully underrepresented.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Tubes, remember?

     

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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
    ― Upton Sinclair

    Who is providing Rep Gohmert's salary?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Well, so much for my theory that Congress might stop making an international laughingstock of itself. I should've known it was too good to be true.

     

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    trevor (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 1:57pm

    Draw a Picture

    Maybe next time the lawyer should get a white board and draw it out for him:

    1. Advertiser: "Google, here is $100k. display X ad when Y word is found in user emails."

    2. Google Machine: *scan email searching for key words, inserts X ad when Y word found*.

    3. User: *Opens email* "hey, my mom invited me home for a steak dinner and there is an ad next to my email for Outback Steak House. Google, you cray."

    Notice, not once did the advertiser get to see any emails.

    I R Congress?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:39pm

      Re: Draw a Picture

      Spot on. The lawyer was trying to explain things too...convolutedly. With visual aids he could've...know what? Never mind, the lawyer successfully exposed this poophead for exactly what he is.

       

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    trrll (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Google to blame for spam?

    It sounds like he has decided that Google is to blame for the spam in his mailbox. So every time the lawyer tried to tell him that Google doesn't sell its customers email address, it was INPUT ERROR DOES NOT COMPUTE.

    Probably what Google's lawyer should have told him (not that I blame the lawyer for failing to figure out on the spot how to break through such impenetrable stupidity) was, "Look! If we sold advertisers our customers' email addresses, then the advertisers wouldn't need us any more--they could just cut out the middleman and send their ads directly to our customers without paying us. So we'd be cutting our own throats if we did what you think we're doing."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Here is a bit of information that Mr Gohmert may be ignorant about it.

    Out of about 1.3 billion connections 500 million were from non-PC devices, meaning if you actually fought back and fuck up those devices you have printers that would not work, cameras, switches, routers and all kinds of devices that could stop working because of allowing others to hack the hackers attitude.

    http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/03/guerilla-researcher-created-epic-botnet-to-scan -billions-of-ip-addresses/

     

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    jackn, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    OK, does anybody here have any -- obviously, you're doing a good job protecting your employer -- but does anybody have any proposed legislation that would assist us in what we're doing

    He lucky he wasn't questioning me. At this point, I would let him know that he was MY Employee. and I would demand that he acknowledge and understand before proceeding. Then I would have him get me a glass of water!

     

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    Alana (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Guys.

    I think we found OOTB.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    I love this part. His eye movements really reminded me of watching brick participate in a conversation. I half expected him to blurt "How do vendors... lamp"

     

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    E-K, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

    Seriously, Rep Gohmert is dumb. But the google lawyer? Come on! He is unable to explain to him that google does not give advertisers access to the users emails. All of this nonsense would have been avoided with a half decent google representative. He keeps mumbling and almost stutters when answering... there is no way his point can come through and no way for Rep Gohmert to learn how the process works. And that will lead to sad regulations in the future... but here I blame google's rep.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 3:27pm

    Ugh. "Scroogle."

    This is why we should not make national policy decisions based on TV ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    It's the political representative of the Simpson's Crazy Cat Lady.

     

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    Beta (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    clueless like a fox

    I believe that Rep. Gohmert knew -- on some level -- that what he was saying was factually incorrect, he just didn't care. He had his prepared questions, and when the lawyer began to point out that he was flat wrong, klaxons sounded in Gohmert's head and he simply started talking over the objections and making full speed for the segue into asking the room for legislation (pausing mid-sentence to throw one last dart, "protecting your employer", that he still had in his hand). He conspicuously did not allow further explanation.

    What's most interesting about this the Representative's keen instinct for knowing what he can get away with. Someone less polite than that lawyer could have demolished the whole argument with a loud and well-timed "You don't know what you're talking about!" But Rep. Gohmert made that psychologically impossible.

    It's like watching a good mentalism act, only less entertaining. And far, far more expensive.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 5:38pm

    Obligatory Billy Madison quote:

    Mr. Gohmert, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2013 @ 6:42pm

    "Gohmert: I'm not asking for a fruit comparison. I'm just asking would you be willing to make that deal with the government? The same one you do with private advertisers..."


    Yes, the FBI could buy ads from Google to display the FBI Warning ad on any Gmail message containing the key words "copy" and "movie" or "music". Just like Budweiser buys ads on CBS to display the Chlydesdales ad during the Super Bowl.

    Bet Gohmert's wondering how Budweiser knew he was drinking beer and watching the Super Bowl at the same time and wants to stop CBS from selling his home address to advertisers.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 8:02pm

    Meh.....while Gohmert certanly shows a lack of knowledge, it doesnt seem to live up to the level of "OMG" that Mike is suggesting (Im referring strictly to the video)

    On the other hand, orin isn't giving direct informative answers to the senator. Thats his job I suppose but its also behavior that most large companies exhibit when there are fact-finding sessions that could even have whiff of liability. I commend the sentator for calling the attorney out on his overly rambling answers that wastes the time of elected officials who might be trying to do the right thing.

    Lastly, Orin needs to take a trip to the testosterone factory

     

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    Oleg (profile), Mar 20th, 2013 @ 9:39pm

    Not so fast on Rep. Gohmert. Sure, somehow Google has brainwashed us all to trust them, and their stats on our ad's activity, even though we never actually see the context in which they run our ads (Direct mail at least has Postal bill).

    We blindly accept that our ads are running (Google calls these impressions). Only when someone actually clicks through (CTR) do we start getting feedback, and then we know for certain when someone buys. Pre-click ads may or may not be free.

    Congressman Gohmert has (purposefully/inadvertently?) forced us to confront the unpleasant fact that we are are blindly trusting Google to run your ads, and then subsequently taking it on faith when Google reports back that they did -- a nice business model, if you can get it.

    Maybe Google can explain to us and Rep. Gohmert how paying customers verify that the ad impressions truly happened, and are not some kind of slick stored procedure in a fantasy database.

     

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    Ben (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 12:35am

    Scotland

    This guy should move to Scotland, where a 'series of tubes' can mean a group of stupid people.

     

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      Iain, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Scotland

      Never heard that phrase in my life, all 50 years of which have been spent in Scotland! The word you're looking for is choob, ya choob!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Talk about a biased article. The man is attempting to get the lawyer to explain the process by which google generates ads and then asks if
    Google would ever enter into a similar arrangement with the govt. Obviously he is mistaken as to the nature of google ads in emails, but his heart is in the right place. He is concerned about google sharing its customers info with the govt, why is this reprehensible?

    Ultimately, in spite of his technological ignorance, I was disappointed in the way the lawyer seemed to dodge the direct question. I knew what the guy was asking, the lawyer seemed more interested in attempting to show his ignorance than answer the question if google would enter into a deal with the feds to share our info.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 7:47am

      Re:

      Google deep-packet-inspects gmail traffic. In other words, they have an automated process that reads your emails, and certain keywords trigger certain advertising. This a fact. The weasel Google lawyer was doing everything he could to not admit that by instead denying Google was doing something else such as selling addresses or the actual content of email.

      Google is a profoundly evil company and kudos to Congress for waking up to that fact.

       

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        Niall (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re:

        That is hardly 'evil', especially if you know they are doing it. And it is miles away from what Rep Gormless is accusing them of (sending email details and contents to advertisers) - something his own government is most likely guilty of itself via the NSA!

         

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    Mike Gallagher, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:20pm

    Not possible

    What everyone's laughing (or cringing) at is the idea that anyone could buy that info, because you can't. No private advertiser. No government. It's just not possible.


    I was surprised to read this. How could it be considered not possible for google provide unrestricted access to their servers for the federal government? It's unlikely, and unethical, but it's absolutely possible. As misinformed as Rep Gohmert is, he appears to be concerned about the very real possibility that google could sacrafice a users privacy on request from the government.

     

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    Stuart, Mar 24th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    didn't the gohmert campaign buy ads from google?

    In this day and age, isn't it pretty much standard for a national political campaign to buy Google's ads?

    In either case, I'm sure that many federal agencies and offices have purchased ads and certainly many more at other levels of government. It would have been pretty powerful for the Google Rep to to say simply ,"Yes, we have already offered the same deal that we give to companies to the government 6436 times. We can get an ad campaign started for you right now if you'd like. Will that be Mastercard or visa?"

     

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    Winston, Mar 24th, 2013 @ 11:17am

    gohmert

    "What they're able to do is through our advertising business is be able to identify keywords that they would like to trigger the display of one of their ads"

    so... a keyword in the message triggers an ad on your screen because "the email context is used to identify what ads are most relevant to the user..."

    but... "they (the advertisers)don't get information about who the user is" and "Google placing targeted ads next to emails has NOTHING to do with sending any information back to the advertiser"

    So the advertisers don't get your information or email address.

    But an automated google server must get information about your url,type of operating system, router address, your ips, and of course how many times the key words or phrases are used; otherwise they would not know where to place which ad or in what format.

    Of course google would never log that information or allow anyone to search the data for a specific computer!

    How could the government ever use that against you? Gohmert is obviously an techno-ignorant conspiracy theorist.....nothing to see here..move along.

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), May 16th, 2013 @ 10:12pm

    An easy read version for Representative Gohmert

    Google Lawyer: They don't actually get your email. What they're able to do is through our advertising business be able to identify keywords that they would like to trigger the display of one of their ads, but they don't get information about who the user is.
    Translation: Advertisers never see your email at all. What they're actually able to do say to Google, "We want this word, that word, and the other word to trigger a display of one of our adverts," and Google makes it happen via an automated process, during which no information is collected, personally identifying or otherwise.
    (Above statement translated by someone who's technically retarded. What does that say about Gohmert?)

     

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