How to Irritate the NSA

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

The other day on BoingBoing, they linked to a New York Times article about how the NSA has a couple of secret listening stations that monitor millions of international phone calls and e-mails =every hour=. Turns out, one of the stations is in Yakima (which, for those who don’t know, is just shy of 200 miles from where I live. The TV station I work for actually broadcasts a signal in Yakima. Morah’s grandparents live there).

One person suggested setting up an international e-mail address and a unique URL and then trying to write e-mails to that address that would get someone at the NSA to follow the URL. The point is, if no one else knows the URL, but someone visits it, not only do you know the NSA is spying on you, but you now know their IP address (assuming the government isn’t using some sort of IP masking or proxy).

Another person pointed out that this might not be such a good idea, as you would surely end up on a watch list, and probably never again be allowed to board a commercial flight.

If you think about it, there’s no way the NSA could feasibly scan millions of e-mails every hour without the process being automated. What most likely happens is that some software quickly scans the e-mail and looks for keywords (this isn’t all that sinister, actually. Google does the same thing when creating the ads for their Gmail). If a certain set of keywords appears (especially when they’re in the right order), the e-mail is flagged and read by a human.

Again, I want to stress that this is only a hypothesis of how it works. I have no idea if I’m even close to right.

So this got me thinking and I started trying to come up with phrases that would send up red flags, but turn out to be harmless. Below is a list of phrases I came up with. I have bolded the “red flag” phrase to help make it clearer.

  • I am going to kill the president of the chess club.
  • Let’s join that group of people who are trying to Google bomb the White House web site with the phrase, ‘miserable failure’.
  • There’s this stupid hedge at the end of my driveway that blocks my view whenever I try to back out. Mark my words, that bush will die by my hands.
  • Saying Delta Burke has talent is like saying I helped plan the 9/11 attacks.
  • The NSA are a bunch of no-talent, flag-burning, commie, pinko, terrorist fags.

I guess that last one wasn’t so benign. At any rate, you can clearly see how, taken out of context, the above examples would probably catch the attention of the NSA. If you can think of any other good ones, post them in the comments.

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2 Comments

  1. Tom

    Hmmm, I wonder if they have web spider like trawlers similar to Google that look through seemingly benign web blogs that turn out to be thinly veiled attacks, or coded means of communication between groups or individuals who wish harm or worse on our great nation…. damn now I sound like a friggin republican!!!! ARRRGGGHHHH!!!! Oh, are you up for Drinking Liberally tomorrow?

  2. I Shot Michelle Obama

    Wow, I haven’t written a title like that since I threatened to kill the president and bomb the white house. Seriously, though, Michelle Obama was in town on Friday afternoon and I was plucked from work and plopped behind a…

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