Accusations of spyware in NC House

Aides balk at having time cards compared to logs of computer log-ons, leading some to suspect new locator software is spyware.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

A tempest in a teapot is brewing in the North Carolina House, where legislative aides are claiming that new text-messaging software is really Trojan software designed to spy on their activities, The News Observer reports.

The software is a simple paging affair that allows employees to signal their status - in office, at lunch, in meeting, on vacation, and so on. It doesn't, however, work with other legislative offices like bill drafting and fiscal research - or to Senate offices.

The system "reeked of Big Brother," House aide Alan Teitleman said. "If you're going to tell us this is a wonderful communications tool, but we can't communicate with anybody, that's backward thinking in my opinion."

Shortly after installation, Teitelman was accused of clocking out after his computer was turned off, thus the idea that the largely useless paging software was actually spyware.

Denise Week, chief House clerk, had taken a look logs of when computers are turned on and off - a tracking ability unrelated to the software - and compared them to time-cards. She asked a few aides about discrepancies.

Rep. Joe Kiser, then House minority leader, sent a message to Republican legislative aides in October telling them to log in to their computers when they begin work and log out when they leave because time sheets were being checked.

Teitleman said he was one of the people Weeks talked to about his hours. Teitleman said he was offended by the questions, since he does extra duty and made only about $16,000 last year.

His accusations of spyware have led to some aides boycotting the locator application, although, Weeks said, some people love the software.

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