With characteristic subtlety, yesterday Vice launched "Hello, NSA", a site that generates keyword-laden, tweetable messages designed to overwhelm the National Security Agency with false reports. The fundamental principle behind this (besides extending a middle finger toward government surveillance) is the needle-in-a-haystack problem of intelligence collection.
By the very nature of intelligence issues, there's much more irrelevant communication than information actually related to potential terrorism. To sort through all this, the Department of Homeland Security has a list of more than 370 keywords used to identify suspicious and potentially terror-related communications. So long as only suspicious communication contains the right combination of these keywords, the metric works.
"Hello, NSA" is designed to gum up the workings of that algorithm. By increasing the amount of metaphorical hay, or irrelevant information, that gets flagged as terror-related, it makes it more difficult for spies and analysts to use information collected through broad surveillance. The phrases generated through VIce's new program are short enough to fit inside a tweet, append to a Facebook status, or include in an email.
Some of them are reasonable typos, like in the image above. Others messages I got from the generator seem to be deliberately provactive, such as, "More national preparedness please. Let's ramp up homeland security lest we be overrun by Basque separatists." Another fun one: "Q: Who'd win in a gunfight? The Taliban, FARC, Hezbollah, or Hamas? The catch: No suicide bombers."
Clever though the plan may be, it's unlikely this will actually cause any real problems for national intelligence services. The Homeland Security keyword list has been publicly available for more than a year, and it's likely been changed and modified since publication. Instead of actually interfering with NSA functioning, "Hello, NSA" seems more like agitprop, an artistic movement involving highly politicized statements, literature, and performances.
Below is my favorite riff on the NSA, a ringtone released by They Might Be Giants, designed to remind everyone about who could be listening in.
One of my friends told me how her brother in America did something similar. He discovered the list of keywords early (I think this occurred sometime after 9-11) and would randomly drop these words during phone conversations. Fortunately, the government had a talk with him (a normal, sitting-on-the-couch one) about not being a troll. Of course, they changed the keywords.
The problem with all of these supposed 'keyword' searches that the NSA supposedly does is that they don't account for the intelligent terrorists who use code words in place of the sorts of words that the NSA would key on for their algorithms. Creating simple key phrases or catch words for your communications can easily overcome any such 'keyword-driven' search algorithm, and makes it even harder to catch, let alone identify, any such activity.
I suspect that there's a lot more to their processes, which include source and destination addresses of certain communications (mail, phone, electronic, etc.) as well. Those would be used in combination with a much more sophisticated collection of key words and phrases (much more than 370+/- words) that they would analyze for suspicious content.
Try to remember that not all terrorists and ne'er-do-wells are idiots and fools... some are highly intelligent and very well organized, and their level of communication sophistication is ever-increasing as well. Our NSA personnel have a tough job laid out for them - one I don't envy - regardless of whether I agree with their methods or rationale for performing said surveillance.
If I type bomb and President to many times, am I considered a terrorist? What if the topic of conversation is against those things and yet now makes myself a suspect via a surveillance program. I guess we are all suspects then.
I find the whole NSA issue to be a slightly difficult one to deal with. On the one hand trolling the NSA is stupid on a bunch of levels not the least of which is always remember that: "The kings men are tough bastards, and funded by the kings treasury. Remember not just tough and not just bastards..."
So here it is in a nutshell, are we willing to say, as a society, I would rather have a few deaths from terrorism ,give or take, in exchange for my privacy rights as I understand them, to be respected.
The righteous in me wants to say yes we should be willing.
The loving in me wants to say Hell No!
color me slightly conflicted
@lechev - Yah, it's a tough balancing act for everyone unfortunately. :-/
If you call a business and they tell you the phone call is being monitored and you approach a bank and you see cameras and your face on a monitored, this is open discloser you are being monitored. This is an open discloser of survilance.
But, in general for the USA citizen public was not made aware that their communications is being monitored all the time in real time, that their faces are being identified via facial recongintion software and they location is being kept via GPS or cell phone trianglization as well at the license plates on their car.
And while our government is doing this and we are given recently some minor comfort their is oversight to NSA, we the USA citizen are not aware to what extent of that oversight details can be.
Though through the media we are very much aware that suspect terrorist and terrorist are bing kept at GTMO to manage these human beings with as legal human rights possible and or counsel.
The NSA is intruding into the USA citizens life of freedom and assumption of innocence. And without clear public oversight for us USA citizens to see, this program is ripe to be used in a malipulated currupt manner.
"I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery." - Thomas Jefferson
I have to say, I agree with that.
Since the NSA is monitoring everyone in real time, it takes away our constitutional right of being assume innocent, so then takes away our individual freedoms as well.
The manner of how NSA has been dictated to operate is unconstitutional to the USA Citizen.
Where is the presumption of innocence?
@JayArr, Wonder... and others.
Yes, and therein lies the whole problem with their method. The NSA MUST know that terrorists aren't that stupid not to use coded phrases. So what are they actually looking for when they are spying on us all? To me, it's just another huge cover-up. Their EXCUSE for what they are doing is terrorism. When in fact it's just a way for them to get around that 4th amendment thing and pry into our lives.
Why would they want or need to do that? Simply because knowledge is power. I posted this on here once before and I think it's time to again: If J. Edgar Hoover could hold power in Washington for 50 years regardless of which party was in the White House simply by holding a few dusty dossiers on the peculiarities and peccadilloes of the ruling class, how powerful would an agency be that was combing through and retaining the digital lives of a digital society?
And you know, Amendments can be changed. If this conservative hatred continues and Liberals gain control of both houses of congress in 2014, anything goes. Obama could, with the full support of both houses of congress, seek a third term. And if he has dirty laundry on most of the congressman??? It's not paranoia. Crazier things have happened in politics throughout history. And even if he doesn't get a third term, who is to say he doesn't remain in power behind the scenes through blackmail? Just as J. Edgar did.
One last thing:
About the time our original 13 states adopted their new Constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, A Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years.
During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage.”
Most in the know agree that we are at stage 7. The dictator of the USA is alive right now. And who is in position for that job more than Obama? Call me crazy.
Ok, enough politics from me, I was here to read some science articles. But once again, popsci manages to be a political magazine.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
Just now to be fair, I did a google search to find 'Presumption of Innnocence' or some phrase like this in our constitution or legal rights and I have not found it yet. Yes it just feels like a common way of thinking, but yet as I continue to search, I have not yet found where this is written into law. Well, kick me in the butt for assumming, huh.
Still, it bugs the heck out of me for the NSA to monitor all USA citizens in all their communication, with out the obvious express doing so by the USA government to the people in advance. It just seems so wrong.
The falafels will arrive on main street in three days.
This is what I would imagine an actual terrorist communication would look like.
Main street and three days actually means may third. Falafels are exactly what they appear to be, everybody eats.
Ya, this is stupid... I like Vice (even though i have to admit, i had no idea who they were until Bill Maher got involved in the production of their new TV show on HBO).
Regardless, as many people have pointed out, not all terrorists are idiots and the NSA knows this. This BS keyword list cannot be the only thing they use to identify potential suspects. Also, this spamming the NSA idea is ridiculous. I didn't read all of the comments so sorry if somebody already mentioned this, but the giant data center in Utah is filled houses super computers (among other things) *Queue "Wonder" leaving a comment with the link to... what was it? Redorbit? about the NSA data center* that they are running these algorithms through. I really can't imagine enough people are actually doing this to bog down any systems the NSA might have. Chances are 99.9% of the tweets, or whatever these people are using to get these keywords out there, are immediately rejected as useless chatter by these algorithms.
Falafel (/fəˈlɑːfəl/; Arabic: فلافل, [falaːfɪlʲl] ( listen)) is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Arab food, usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa; "falafel" also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze.
Generally accepted to have first been made in Egypt, falafel has become a dish eaten throughout the Middle East. The Copts of Egypt claim to have first made the dish as a replacement for meat during Lent. The fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food...."
I learn something new, neat!
I hope I am not considered a suspect terrorist now?
This food does come from the Middle East.
It would be far more effective to encrypt the email with PGP. That way you *know* the NSA will see it.
So people complaining about the government spying on them are going to both make it harder for them to actually find terrorists and make sure the government spies on them? Makes sense to me.
I believe TOR is superior to PGP.The NSA could track down your ISP for further investigation,even if it can't read the email content.TOR bounces your email around so many servers that your location is securely concealed.
Roughly speaking entering your own ip yourself to this website, check out how close this website locations you, via your IP.
I am 100% confident with your IP, the government knows your location within a meter and using IP6 and your MAC of your Nic knows exactly what internet device you are using in real time.
"Just now to be fair, I did a google search to find 'Presumption of Innnocence' or some phrase like this in our constitution or legal rights and I have not found it yet."
Also try "innocent until proven guilty".
I can't include real URLs, according to the warning displayed when posting this, or it will be flagged as spam.
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What link did you find it in USA law or in the US Constitution?
While the department of NSA may feel legally correct by their higher legal delegated authority, what NSA and their leadership laws are breaking is the
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized... ".
And yes morally for a legal directive the 'Presumption of Innocence' has gone out the window for our USA Law makers, for sure, so then follows the intent to protect and give Freedom to the US Citizens as well.
I wonder if the US Gov can fit all 316 million plus Citizens in GTMO Cuba?
"What link did you find it in USA law or in the US Constitution?"
I don't follow you. You said you were looking for "some phrase like this in our constitution or legal rights". Well, it's not in the Constitution. If you read some of the Wikipedia link, you will discover the presumption of innocence has roots in common and civil law and is considered to be a fundamental right in many countries.
"Presumption of innocence" or "innocent until proven guilty" are the foundations of the Magna Carta's trial by jury. It nullified the power of the King to convict merely on his word alone.
And, yes, the NSA's methods contradict the Fourth Amendment. I never argued otherwise. I was simply offering an alternate avenue for finding what you wanted in a net search.
I was just looking for and hoping in my heart, that legally it was written down somewhere in the constitution of "Presumption of innocence". If it not written down and included, then sadly while it might be a moral motivation when creating laws, it just a tiger with no teeth.
To quote from wikipedia:
Although the Constitution of the United States does not cite it explicitly, presumption of innocence is widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. See also Coffin v. United States and In re Winship.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.[note 1]
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
So with all you said and the addition of the Fourth Amendment, it would imply our USA government and the establishment of NSA and its current guidelines is failing the American people towards freedom and our founding laws.
By the way, thank you very much for your input!
"If it not written down and included, then sadly while it might be a moral motivation when creating laws, it just a tiger with no teeth."
You can make the same point for ANY law, INCLUDING the U.S. Constitution. All federal officials and employees take an oath to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic". Yet, each and every one of them thumb their nose at the Constitution each and every day. Here's just one example.
Article 1 Section 8 lists the powers granted to Congress. It reads, in part:
"The Congress shall have Power ... To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;"
All powers not specifically granted to Congress are reserved to the several States or to the people (Tenth Amendment). Article 1 Section 10 lists powers denied to the States. It reads, in part:
"No State shall ... make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;"
Tell me those laws are still enforced. Bear in mind that the U.S. Constitution is STILL the supreme law of the land (Article 6), and that an act of Congress CANNOT override the Constitution. It can ONLY be changed by an Amendment to the Constitution. And, Article 1 Sections 8 and 10 have never been amended. Period.
Overwhelm the NSA with spam? Maybe before, but nowadays they can block you and have you fully tapped at the same time. Get with it, kids.
Reminds me of a video:
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