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Tuesday,  January 21 12:01 AM EDT

Government Tracks Outlook
Users in Massive Database

By Brian Briggs

Washington DC - A little covered footnote to the recently passed Homeland Security bill was the creation of a nationwide database of Microsoft Outlook users. This database will be used to track viruses to their source and help prevent any terrorist attack through e-mail.

"A properly crafted e-mail virus could shut down 50% of the US economy in 8 hours," said Waylon Howard newly appointed Director of the Project Outlook. "If that's not a national security risk then I don't know what is."

"We'll be able to track the viruses to the source and prosecute the virus creator to the fullest extent of the law which now is the death penalty. We'll also be able to track who clicked on the attachment and contributed to the spread of the virus and charge them as accomplices," said Howard.

Privacy experts were outraged by the government's new program. "Sure Outlook users are the lowest of the low, but even they have constitutionally protected rights. How do we know that the government won't sell this information to Ximian so they can solicit converts to Evolution? Or maybe the government will make this list public and we'll go back to the dark ages of public lynchings?"

The government also plans to use the database to send out virus warnings and patches for Outlook users. If your system is not patched then it will upgrade it for you.

"I'm afraid that the government might use the information to embarrass me," said Vern Hollings of 245 West Main in Topeka, an Outlook user who wished to remain anonymous. "I only use Outlook at work. I can't help it. That's what my company forces me to use. Now with Project Outlook exposing me I might not be able to work on the Linux kernel."

Many are worried that Microsoft coded in some sort of insecure back door into Outlook for this database tracking. A Microsoft representative claimed that this back door is very secure and that users should focus more closely on the 237 other insecurities in Outlook.

Claims of discrimination have already arisen. "I've been using GnuPG with KMail for 18 months now, but they won't take my name off the list," said Alan Hardings.

Howard explained, "We have to be sure that when we pull a user off the list that they won't just go right back to using Outlook. I'm familiar with the Hardings case and well, it seems he's trying a little TOO HARD to make himself look innocent! We REALLY don't trust him now."

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