by Anniel 7/26/17
The Shocking Expose of the Government’s Surveillance and Overreach Into Cybersecurity, Medicine and Small Business. Author: Michael J. Daugherty. Available on Kindle. • I read this book after my foray into Howard Root’s “Cardiac Arrest.” I heard the author, Michael J. Daugherty, speak on a radio program and decided I needed to read his book so I could more firmly grasp what had happened to his company since 2008. He has been, and still is, grappling with the Bureaucracy of the Federal Trade Commission. What happened to him is in many ways more frightening and maddening than what happened to Root because his story takes place at the worst of our government’s corrupt heart.
In Mr. Root’s case it seemed as though the FDA Honchos threw a dart at a board and it landed on Root’s name and company to destroy. In Mr. Daughtery’s company, LabMD, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the first bad guys were looking for a sucker, and an unthinking and innocent employee of LabMD dropped the drawbridge over the moat and let the first enemy in.
The enemy, the Devil spoken of, and the added cancer, is described by the author as follows:
The Devil is a mindset that infiltrates the minds and souls from the weak to the powerful; it hates principle, memory and truth. . . The Devil moves freely among us, numbs our ethics, compromises our moral character, cauterizes our memory, charms us into submission, and convinces us that its carnage is for the betterment of mankind.
We have a cancer in America. Agencies of the government can’t take the law into their own hands simply because they are of the opinion that Congress hasn’t created the laws they want.
Or at least they shouldn’t be able to.
In 2008 LabMD was a profitable cancer detection facility that specialized in prostate and bladder cancers, or whatever would be ordered by urologists for testing. No patients were ever seen in-house. All employees were instructed to never, ever connect any outside computer programs to the in-house system. The company picked up orders by outside courier service and results were hand delivered the same way. LabMD was meticulous because Daugherty never wanted to compromise a patient’s information.
On May 13, 2008 the company lawyer for LabMD received a call from a man named Robert Boback, from a computer service company in Pennsylvania called Tiversa. He said his company had downloaded a file containing patient health information from LabMD because Tiversa performed regular security intelligence. Stunned Daugherty and the lawyer took immediate action to see how they had been compromised.
They found out that Tiversa found their information by tapping into a system called Peer to Peer, or PtoP.
Boback finally sent LabMD a copy of the file, it was a 1,700 pages long billing file and had all kinds of info on some 9,000 patients, including their Social Security Numbers, but no home addresses or telephone numbers. It was enough information to be scary.
It didn’t take Daugherty long to figure out that Tiversa was trying to rip LabMD off. Big fees were involved for them to get rid of the PtoP and unauthorized entry to the company’s site. Tiversa was always upping the ante on what might be necessary to “clean up” WebMD’s site.
Daugherty, his lawyer and their head of IT finally found that their billing clerk had gone against company policy and downloaded a PtoP site called LimeWire so she could listen to music while she worked. It never occurred to her that her files could be accessed. Daugherty says that at least 450 million other computers in the world are vulnerable to PtoP infiltration, including top secret government files, which are known to have been compromised.
LabMD removed the one LimeWire PtoP site, then checked it themselves. No complaints, no notices of trouble were ever given from anyone. In November of 2008, Tiversa notified them that they would go to the FTA because LabMD had failed to safeguard their clients’ medical information.
Tiversa deliberately sought out the PtoP site. It was not a breach. It was a theft in order to charge large sums to “help” LabMD clean up its site. LabMD had a female employee who had a degree in IT so they allowed her to work from home to make certain there were no other problems.
It was the illegal taking of copywrite music that led to some unmasking of PtoP systems, starting with Napster and LimeWire. Now add to that such companies as Gnutella, Aries, e-donkey and the Ultra Peers and ask yourself how safe you are if you use one of these companies. If you use FrostWire for your Android Smartphone you could be at greater risk that all your calls and files can be accessed.
LabMD also called in a gentleman named Henry Kensington from a Cybersecurity company to check their site further. He checked everything and gave the company a clean bill of health.
Tiversa and Boback again threatened to notify the FTC if LabMD did not hire Tiversa to cleanup their systems. They said the check of LabMD facilities by Kensington was not good enough and Tiversa was obligated by law to turn LabMD in to the proper authorities.
LabMD received notice that they were being investigated by the FTC early in January, 2010 by letter from one Alain Sheer. When the FTC was established in 1914 Section 5 of the FTC Act charged the agency to investigate and prohibit “unfair methods of competition.” This was amended in 1934 granting the agency power to prohibit “unfair or deceptive acts or practices. . .”
The Act kept getting amended so that the FTC could decide on behalf of consumers if they were being deceived without knowing it. Section 5 doesn’t even require ACTUAL damages so no matter how innocent a company or individual may be, they get caught in the meat grinder, what Daugherty describes as “a bureaucratic version of Hell.”
The FTC, like the FDA in the Root case, played the game the way the FDA had. The same requests over and over again for info that was never read or paid attention to. Time and huge legal fees were wasted when the company could have been building more business. Lies upon lies were being spun against them.
Under deadline for an administrative hearing Daugherty finally hired a lawyer who once worked for the FTC. She claimed to be independent of the agency but turned out to be a shill FOR the agency and kept trying to force Daugherty to sign a consent agreement and acknowledge his personal guilt in allowing his patients’s names out. Lesson to the world from Mr. Daugherty, “when hiring a lawyer, make sure the brainwashing has been cleaned off.”
Doing his own research, Daugherty discovered that Boback had testified before Congress as a representative of Tiversa on the PtoP matter and turned over LabMD’s stolen pages, which were then published in the Congressional Register. Daugherty also discovered that Gen. Wesley Clark sits on the Tiversa Board and had himself appeared before Congress and praised Boback and Tiversa for patriotism and aid on PtoP. Based on the Congressional hearings the stolen documents were sent to Dartmouth College in Pennsylvania for use in an academic study funded by the Department of Homeland Security to the tune of $2.5 million.
The FTC agents, led by Alain Sheer, somehow discovered a robbery case in California where papers suggestive of LabMD were found in a car at the scene. They sat on the papers for five months before notifying Daugherty that the papers “might” pertain to his company. Sheer then sent a copy with everything redacted. Even the police department involved was told not to reveal anything to LabMD. Of course Daugherty was then accused of not notifying the patients who might have been compromised somehow in this robbery. Now the FTC wants Daugherty to confirm that the account numbers on the papers are LabMDs.
Suit was finally filed by Daugherty in Georgia against Tiversa and against Dartmouth in Pennsylvania for return of his company’s property. They took the case to Georgia courts because that was the only state that had laws on the books for cybercrimes. It was transferred to the Federal Court. The District Judge in the case found on behalf of LabMD. Both Tiversa and Dartmouth appealed the ruling and all appellate courts up the line refused Georgia’s jurisdiction.
Appeals on FTC Agency Hearings are closed. Neither the owner of the company or person charged are permitted to attend nor defend themselves. Monies can be demanded as fines at these hearings and there is no way to fight back. Daugherty had no idea before just how much power Congress has ceded to administrative agencies. He writes:
I had a hard time getting my head around it . . . Can the U.S. government even be given such power by Congress, circumventing the concept of innocence until proven guilty? My eyes were opening to the realization that government agencies can wreak havoc on whomever they choose . . . and the legislative and judicial branches seem to be just fine with that. I would never have thought this had the tree not fallen on me.
The only place Daugherty and LabMD can now take their case is the United States Supreme Court, a very expensive proposition. But he has one judicial favorable ruling in his behalf, and the Appelate decisions against him. And the matter of Cybersecurity is again rearing its head. Just maybe SCOTUS would be prone to accept the case.
PtoP and Limewire are still a threat to anyone with vulnerable proprietary information, in fact anyone, including the government and you and me have no privacy rights under the peer-to-peer system, even though government has been notified of the existing problems.
Classified government documents, including Department of Defense secret documents have been compromised numerous times by PtoP players. PtoP groups have been told by congress to clean up their act. Unfortunately the FTC was put in as the oversight agency in the matter. What could possibly go wrong? The PtoP companies tell users that they can opt out of the public side of their business by just checking a box, then never show that the user is still hooked up and nothing has changed. Their information is still “out there”. No one’s privacy is protected, even though they are assured it is. And the FTC assures Congress everything is OK and they are doing their job, with bragging rights and bonuses to prove it.
One thought about Obama’s supposed Affordable Care Act. Do you, or does anyone, really believe that the required on-line medical records are secure? Neither Daugherty nor I do.
There are so many people in this story, both the horrible and the saintly, that they cannot all be covered. One of the good guys is Benjamin Wright, the Legal Instructor of what is known as the SANS Institute, or Sys Admin Audit, Network and Security, the leading organization that participates in information security training and security certification. He was the one who said there had been no “breach”. But it was a theft, pure and simple. He was helpful to the author in many ways.
Wikileaks was a major wake-up call for Daugherty and gave his company some breathing space in which to heal, and for him to plan his strategy for dealing with the FTC when it reared its ugly head again. He felt the country had left itself so exposed to Assange because no one was paying attention.
Daugherty goes into the case that the FTC filed against him in a final attempt to destroy both him and his company, and tells why the charges are lies and distortions. The case is still pending on appeal.
Like Mr. Root before him, Daugherty decided to take time away from the business he loved and become a writer and document his case because he fears for his country.
One last quote from the author:
The story [I write] has transcended my own personal troubles. It is clear that a pandemic spread of bureaucrats that place their job security over and above national security are putting our country at grave risk. . . . I can’t control fate, but I can control what I do with the cards I am dealt, and I refuse to be a victim. I am a missionary, a warrior, and a survivor. . . I will never give in.
The last chapter in the book asks the question about who these unelected bureaucrats are and why they feel they have the right to act as they do. Talk about the smug self-righteous liberal mindset. They are better than the rest of us. They are our self-appointed saviors, just ask them. They are the true believers – in only themselves, you and I are mere serfs and slaves to them. Yes, there is a swamp to be drained, and a constitution that needs to be saved.
I would recommend this book highly to anyone who can see the
handwriting on the wall. The book is long, but well written and challenging. The author reveals so much that our country faces
in all three branches of the government and what freedom truly means.
Read it and pray you never wind up in the cross-hairs of any U.S. Administrative Agency. There are a whole alphabet soup of them.