This eWEEK

Our government must get its digital act together.

Our government must get its digital act together. Right now, it has a long way to go. Consider Caron Carlsons report on government data gathering practices. Not many of us would want our personal data to be obtained and sold for profit to the government by a data broker. And yet, the FBIs use of brokered data has skyrocketed over the past decade, according to research by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Will protection come from a watertight privacy appliance that sits between us and the government data miners? Mark Bernstein, president and center director of Xeroxs Palo Alto Research Center, which is doing privacy appliance development for DARPA, says in this weeks Free Spectrum column that a privacy appliance can help. His column rebuts the opinion of Cameron Sturdevant, who says, no way.

Jim Rapoza says the rush to kill spam through anti-spam laws will just create unintended consequences that will be worse than the current scourge. Technology can solve the problem that technology created, Jim says.

Fed Up

Proposals to control federal use of commercial data:

  • Citizens Protection in Federal Databases Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., July 29
  • Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., July 31
  • Defense of Privacy Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, Jan. 27
While the government tends toward hyperactivity when it comes to scouring information about us, streamlining bureaucracy through e-government is now mired in a funding battle. In this weeks Editorial, we urge legislators to appropriate the money that President Bush endorsed in the bipartisan e-government bill last year.

Progress is being made, however, in building dynamic data centers. Francis Chu reviews contrasting products with similar-sounding names: Veritas Softwares OpForce 3.0 is easy to use and reasonably priced for performing specific tasks; Opswares Opsware System 4.0 is comprehensive and expensive. "Both systems complement one another," said Francis. "Opsware is more suitable for server life-cycle management, while OpForce is more of an automation engine. You could use them together."

The main selling point of these products, Francis notes, is to lower the number of IT administrators and use hardware more effectively, rather than throwing new boxes at the problem. They also offer a rights structure, so rogue admins cant wreak havoc. There are also competing wares from IBM, Sun, CA and Altiris, so theres no excuse for wasting resources—or suffering downtime.

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