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Obama Administration Announces “Citizen Cloud” for Federal Software Applications

April 1st, 2009 · 1 Comment

United States Chief Information Officer (CIO) Vivek Kundra today announced a comprehensive plan for reducing the infrastructure costs of hosting federal software applications by implementing a “citizen cloud” that will use the spare cycles of the idle computers of American citizens to run the myriad of software applications used by the federal government.

Here is a partial transcript of the press conference where this dramatic move was announced:

Vivek Kundra: The citizen cloud is a tremendous step forward in information technology hosting services. By running our government’s critical applications on a network of computers that are owned and maintained by American citizens instead of in huge, expensive data warehouses we will be able to reduce the federal technology budget from $80 billion to $10 billion in just six months.

John King: Obviously, I know what it is, but the average American citizen has never heard of cloud computing. Can you describe how this citizen cloud works?

Vivek Kundra: Cloud computing is an approach to computing that has evolved over the years. It takes advantage of the fact that the computers of an average American citizen sit idle an average of 90% of the time. Our plan is to borrow these spare cycles and use them to run the software the federal government uses to perform its obligations to the American people.

Lou Dobbs: What sort of software are we talking about here?

Vivek Kundra: Great question Lou. The citizen cloud is the preferred platform for every federal software application. We’re going to start migrating everything from the IRS tax refund processing platform to the CIA’s terrorism surveillance database to the citizen cloud within a week.

Marshall Kirkland: Wow. That’s pretty ambitious. Aren’t you worried about hosting sensitive information on machines you don’t have direct control over? I’m not sure I want my tax refund being hosted on my neighbors mac.

Vivek Kundra: We take security very seriously. That’s why every computer in the citizen cloud is going to use a special software package called eCondomsWork that isolates federal data from the rest of the data on that computer in a secure wrapper called an eCondom. The condom protects the data from penetration both by the computer owner and by viruses that exploit weaknesses in the OS and browser to attack the data.

John King: This condom thing – can you tell us more about how it works.

Vivek Kundra: (smiling) I’m sorry John, but if I’d known you were going to ask that I’d have brought someone from the FDA.

Wolf Blitzer: I don’t particularly want the federal government using my computer. What incentive do I have to let you use my spare cycles?

Vivek Kundra: Every American should feel a patriotic duty to support the government. This really is a moment for Americans to ask what they can do for their country, not the other way around. But… if that doesn’t work we have other options, one of which includes tax incentives.

Marshall Kirkland: So, you’re considering paying Americans to use their computers. Would it be a substantial amount?

Vivek Kundra: We’ll make it worth their while, but it will still be very cost effective compared to hosted data centers. An average home with one or two computers and broadband internet could earn as much as $1000/year.

Wolf Blitzer: What if that doesn’t work? That’s not a lot of money to many Americans – won’t a lot of Americans just forgo that money to keep your software off of their machines?

Vivek Kundra: Perhaps. But there are ways around that too. In fact, we’re considering just declaring spare computing cycles the eminent domain of the United States, sort of like the wireless spectrum, and controlling it that way.

Marshall Kirk: Even if you use eminent domain to claim the cycles, won’t you still have to get access to the boxes? What if citizens won’t let you?

Vivek Kundra: We’re going to use a time-proven method of appropriating spare computing cycles without the owner’s permission. Sometime next week, an email will go out to every American citizen promising them a nude picture of President Obama if they open an attachment. That attachment will secretly install the CondomWorks software package and display a tasteful picture of our president. At that point, we will have successfully appropriated the users computer.

Marshall Kirk: What about anti-virus software? Won’t they block you?

Vivek Kundra: We’ve already made agreements with the major software vendors to facilitate the CondomsWork attack and the FCC is announcing new regulations on broadband internet that make it illegal to actively prevent the CondomsWork installation and execution.

End of transcript. For the full transcript of the press conference, go to

The federal Citizen Cloud is modeled after a successful program initiated by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels to use spare cycles of Hoosier’s computers to operate the state’s public registered sex offender’s database. Indiana has been using a network of 20,000 home computers to track and publish the whereabouts of the criminally perverse since 2007 for a claimed savings of $2.3 million.

Opponents of the plan claim they have been able to exploit a safari vulnerability to obtain the IP addresses of the entire Indiana citizen cloud and have traced them back to physical locations.

“80% of the computers used in Indiana’s so-called citizen cloud are in fact not the computers of citizens at all,” says Walter, an anonymous member of KillTheCloud, an Indiana-based information security group that is opposed to the use of cloud computing. “They are actually computers that we have been determined are not in the United States at all. In fact, nearly half of them are in former Soviet Bloc nations, and 25% of them reside in a data center known to be used to operate an illegal spamming botnet.”

When asked about the CondomWorks package, Walter had nothing positive to say. “CondomWorks is a total piece of crap. It is easily ruptured by both the computer owner and browser-based attackers. In fact, the hacker who obtained the IP addresses for us was able to break through Indiana’s CondomWorks package in fewer than 100 key strokes.”

“The citizen cloud is going to be a complete and total security disaster. Not only will the data be stolen, but it will be only months before smart software developers begin perverting the governments software to their own means, such as inflating tax returns, modifying criminal records, and stealing government resources.”

Representatives from the Indiana governor’s office were not available to comment on the allegations of KillTheCloud.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Crystal // Apr 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Good try Mr. Funny Pants

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