Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today's Double Dip of Irony

It's a hot day here on the East Coast, so I thought that it might be refreshing to dive into a double-dip, extra-creamy, delicious ice cream cone of irony.

It seems that Overstock.com, which employs a full-time cyberstalker as its director of communications -- who set up an anonymous astroturfing website to stalk his boss's opponents, and uses spyware to glom IP addresses -- this toilet bowl of a company is actually dedicated to Internet privacy.

That's right, folks, and we have it on the authority of that most reliable of sources, a press release from a company called Cenzic. The press release is entitled "Overstock.com Teams With Cenzic to Keep Customer Data Safe." It begins "To minimize the exposure of consumer data collected via its Web site, Overstock.com is teaming with Cenzic, the leading provider of application security assessment and risk management solutions, to optimize their Web security systems."

While I can understand why this release would say that "at Overstock.com customers are the number one priority" -- since, after all, the company loves its customers so much that it loses money on every sale -- I think that the assurances that "all Web site applications are resistant to hacker attacks and provide the highest level of data security" ring a bit hollow.


That's because the executive I mentioned earlier, the nauseating Judd Bagley, has boasted about using spyware, which he has planted in emails and in Internet postings, and even directed against his friends on an anti-Wikipedia website. He then uses the data to spin fairy tales on Overstock.com's antisocialmedia.net corporate smear site.

How can you trust a company to keep its customer data secure when its Director of Communications engages in such unethical, legally questionable tactics?

Indeed, one of the reasons that Bagley's make-work project, a Wikipedia wanna-be called "Omuse," has been a flop is that you can't contribute to it without giving the glassy-eyed person pictured above your credit card number. No wonder Omuse has, embarrassingly, become little more than an advertising vehicle for a few Overstock auction sellers. It remains languishing in "beta" despite a promise it would emerge from that state by now.

Anyway, let's put aside such questions for now, and savor the delicious, double-dip of irony this press release provides us. Yummy!

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site, gary-weiss.com.

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