Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Touch ID Conspiracy of the Day

Jonny Evans of Computerworld, reporting on a new claim from Anonymous (the group of people that likes to protest capitalism and commercialism while dressed in masks from “V for Vendetta”):

In brief, the claims the group make concerning Touch ID seem to focus on Authentec director, Robert E. Grady, who appears to have been a prominent figure within the George Bush administration and (Anonymous claim) was connected with The Carlyle Group, which Anonymous also claim is a majority shareholder in Booz Allen Hamilton, the NSA contractor with which whistleblower Edward Snowden worked.

This claim is pretty easy to debunk:

  1. Robert E. Grady was, indeed, a figure within the George W. Bush administration (and the administration of Bush Sr., too): he was appointed to be a member of a committee for the maintenance of the International Space Station, and another committee for trade policy; he was also co-chair of Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

    But lots of prominent businesspeople take on occasional roles in politics. There’s nothing suspicious about this in of itself, especially since Grady did not become director of Authentec until 2010 (and quit six months after he started).

  2. The Carlyle Group used to be an investor in Authentec, and is currently a shareholder in Booz Allen Hamilton. It’s also one of the largest investment firms in the world, so the fact that they have fingers in many pies is both obvious and not suspicious.

More than anything, this is a ham-fisted attempt at guilt by association. You can do this with anything, really. Witness:

  • The Anonymous news site anonnews.org and their favourite note-dumping service pastebin.com both have private whois data localized to Panama.
  • John McCain was born in Panama.
  • John McCain supported US intervention in Syria.
  • Therefore, Anonymous colluded with John McCain to try to attack Syria.

It’s easy. Anyone can do it. And it isn’t proof of anything aside from some delusional, paranoid notions. While we’re living in an era where the NSA is tapping major internet providers and doing generally creepy things, these claims are substantiated with hard evidence. Guilt by association is driven by nothing more than paranoia — the same paranoia which drives all conspiracy theories. It’s bunk, and nothing more.