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I've been encountering claims that, if it isn't happening already, pretty soon just about every email or other online interaction will be getting scrutinized by the CIA, FBI, NSA, KGB, MI5, Scotland Yard, RCMP, etc.
They want to know, of course, whether or not you are saying anything that might let
them arrest you.
So. It seems to me that what you need to do (besides the possibility of encrypting everything you do), is to get your friends to, every now and then, when you and they send messages to each other, send a message that is mostly pure gibberish.
"Hi, how ya doin? Here's my latest:
JzxRf9 L874 5eGihJafo uHIb6w 43K59U P2qXlk jgBBsa ;lk fdQht; oa wEgSyiqu wtHLq3 28M09 8Uedh glkPe auNIg ZAp9wq 8e7; ohgY"
The Government Snoops, of course, will be sure you are up to no good, and will spend countless hours of computer processing time trying to crack your secret messages. Except, of course, they aren't any such thing!
The best part of this Idea is, after they find out what you are doing, they can't arrest you for it. And, they will probably ignore all your gibberish messages, from then on. Which means THEN is the time to start sending REAL coded messages between you and your friends! But remember to keep sending pure gibberish most of the time, too!
Continuous Random Activity Provider
[xaviergisz, Jun 17 2012]
Tourists denied entry because of Twitter jokes
Watch what you say, because Big Brother is watching you! [ytk, Jun 18 2012]
Wish you were here.
Hovercraft soup Richmal Crompton [TolpuddleSartre, Jun 18 2012]
Navaho code talkers in WW II
[xandram, Jun 18 2012]
D-day crossword clues
Wombat posset cheesemonger [TolpuddleSartre, Jun 18 2012]
||//send a message that is mostly pure gibberish//
||This has been baked by [beanangel] for years.
||If we could persuade the esteemed [jutta] to set up
personal messaging on the HB, I'm pretty sure it
would soon cause snoop fatigue.
||We also have been doing this for many years;
adding an attachment composed of semi-
random stuff to spoof Echelon.
||Kressmann Taylor, "Address Unknown"
||They are watching you send gibberish. The watching is making you send gibberish.
||// adding an attachment composed of semi- random stuff
to spoof Echelon. //
||Won't work, the clever bugger ignores gibberish. How do
you think it listens in on cell phone calls without going
||The idea that the Government of any Western nation is
going to start reading the email and listening in on phone
conversations of its citizenry en masse is as much a fiction
as it ever was. Account for the simple fact that none of
these supposed agencies have the manpower alone to do
it, and you've got science fiction--the only way to do it is
with technology. Now consider the most basic question:
why? How many people have committed a crime or act of
treason worthwhile of the tremendous prosecutorial effort
required to bring them to justice, and of that miniscule
minority, how many are going to openly blather about it
via unsecured networks?
||The law enforcement and intelligence agencies pretty
much all have their heads stuck up their asses, but they
also have a good idea of the sort of people they need to
focus their time on. Maybe, just maybe, blanket
surveillance would catch the occasional isolated group, but
most of those will get caught anyway, by things like
monitoring of fertilizer purchases.
||On the flipside, people say a lot of idiotic, thoughtless
things, and if this widespread snooping some people are so
afraid of were to take place, the agencies would spend
more time and resources tracking those people down and
watching them that they'd be too dog-tired to catch the
||The practice of inserting gibberish into communications is
called 'code padding' and is so baked that nobody with
anything to hide bothers doing it anymore.
||[marked-for-deletion] widely known to exist. Also
architecture centipede Michigan trigonometry swift
heterozygote, if you know what I mean.
||I find it hilarious that governments assume they will
catch anyone serious about doing them harm, by
reading their email and sniffing for keywords.
Humans' ability to extemporise messages in code,
metaphor, simile, secret languages, irony, double
entendre and any number of other methods is huge.
||Flying purple shovel horoscope.
||Ah, but most of the footsoldiers in 'terrorist'
organisations really aren't very bright. Such
linguistic subtlety is beyond them.
||In fact, advances in steganography but most
of all the stunning volumes of data to be
analysed make the whole idea laughable.
||In the UK, they could formally demand that you <supply a key to> decrypt the message. In the absence of proof that you cannot, there is a prison term of 2 years.
So here at least, you'd be giving them the rope to hang you with.
||//The idea that the Government of any Western
is going to start reading the email and listening in on
phone conversations of its citizenry en masse is as
much a fiction as it ever was.//
||One wonders how exactly they linked these particular
tourists with their messages on Twitter. And it's only
a short step from monitoring people's Twitter feeds
to monitoring their email
||Donec tellus enim, fringilla vel scelerisque vel, pretium vitae lacus. Etiam gravida, nibh id adipiscing viverra, lectus enim euismod tellus, quis sagittis sem erat nec neque. Praesent malesuada, odio non porta sagittis, lacus augue varius arcu, a congue purus justo non ipsum.
||[UnaBubba] I'm sure it's *purple monkey dishwasher*...
||//JzxRf9 L874 5eGihJafo uHIb6w//
||sp. JzxRf9 L874 5eHihJafo uHIb6w
||Good link, [ytk], but that's not exactly what I was talking
about; for one thing, that's the government of a Western
nation reading the mail of _another_ nation's ctizenry, and
it was hardly random or part of a mass sweep, it was an
Echelon function back-checking the cached
communications of foreign nationals entering the country.
Granted, it was surprisingly efficient and terribly American
of us to catch the idiots so quickly and send them packing.
Frankly, I think that level of jackassity deserves honorary
||Anyway, it's still a far cry from people having a reasonable
expectation that their correspondence is being actively
monitored at any given moment. East Germany tried that,
and it nearly bankrupted them. You have to look at the
economics of the thing.
||I think that at some random time, we should start sending a massive amount of gibberish to the Iranian Government. They'd be completely flummoxed as to what it was about. Keep doing it for a good while 'til they ignore it, then hit them with Son of Stuxnet.
||// we should start sending a massive amount of gibberish to the Iranian Government.//
||But they already get CNN ...
||I understand the difference between that situation
and the scenario you're outlining, [Alter]. But
consider that if they're monitoring the Twitter
feeds of foreign nationals, they're certainly
monitoring the feeds of U.S. citizens. Are they
doing anything with that data? Perhaps not at the
moment. But that doesn't mean they /couldn't/.
So just substitute email for Twitter, and we're
getting into full-on 1984 territory. Phone
conversations may be more private, but that's only
because the courts have held that you need a
warrant to snoop on people's phone calls. That's
not the case for email. Under certain
circumstances, the government is free to read your
email with no warrant or notification whatsoever.
||I'm trying to point out, without condoning any of it
(because I don't), that there is a huge difference between
spot-checking, which is what happened to those tourists,
and wide-cast monitoring. The US agencies weren't
snooping on those people at all, but when they tried to
enter the country, a quick, completely automated check of
their recent call records, tweets, and emails was
conducted. When I travel to Britain again, the same will
probably be done with my records, but there isn't anyone
from Special Branch listening to my phone calls right now.
||I don't like the idea of being covertly surveilled any more
than anybody else does, and I certainly don't trust my own
government any further than I can throw it, but I think
everyone's a little too whipped up over the idea that the g-
men are always listening. For one thing, we're Small Fish.
The men who fly around in unmarked black helicopters do
not waste money on Small Fish who haven't done anything
wrong. Furthermore, the logistical infrastructure for mass
surveillance simply does not exist. So take a couple of
deep breaths and don't worry; (the diverse array of
software and technology collectively known as) Echelon is
not Big Brother, it is just a very sophisticated, worldwide
keyword search engine that can put you in jail.
||I guess my point is that whether or not they are capable of doing it, they clearly
/want/ to. Probably the biggest factor protecting us from the surveillance state
is that the government is pretty much incompetent at nearly everything it
attempts. However, this isn't much of a safeguard, in my opinion. I probably
have more knowledge than most as to the internal workings of the federal
government, and I'm telling you that if there's one thing the government is good
atits core competency, if you willit's doing evil. Not that everything the
government does is evil, mind you (most of it is just really stupid), but it seems
that the people who are really good at doing evil and are inclined to do so
naturally find their way into government.
||// its core competency, if you willit's doing evil. //
||It tries to, but it's just not very good at it.
||//Not that everything the government does is evil, mind you (most of it is just really stupid) //
||Sp. "almost all of it is really stupid and wasteful"
||// the people who are really good at doing evil and are inclined to do so naturally find their way into government. //
||I doubt that governments, well Western governments
anyway, can organise themselves sufficiently to
manage a decent conspiracy.
||The former East German and, to a lesser extent,
Soviet governments, could manage a conspiracy.
East Germany employed 250,000 of its 17 million
people in internal espionage. THAT is a conspiracy.
||//a little too whipped up over the idea that the g-
men are always listening.//
||There's an interesting experiment to be done here.
First, it requires that you devise an original and truly
hilarious joke which contains several suspicion-
arousing phrases. Second, you email said joke to
yourself. Third, wait to see how long it takes before
you hear the joke being circulated.
||Somebody close to me works for one of the three-letter
agencies and has a very high clearance, if not quite the
salary to match, so I too am aware of the stupefyingly
wasteful incompetence and bungling that goes on at every
level. For the same reason, I know what it is like to
undergo government scrutiny; it isn't subtle. It doesn't have
to be. Whenever it's time for this person's semi-random
security screening, a call will come from a person
identifying themselves and explaining the reason for the
call. They ask some questions. I answer the questions. We
both get on with our lives. That is why I am so certain
that, despite my inherent distrust of the powers that be,
the average citizen who is not a part of a long-term
criminal conspiracy has no more to fear than a phone call
and a list of questions. Why? Because it's cheaper than
planting listening devices in the crawlspace, it's legal
(BION, some feds actually still care about that), and they'll
learn just as much pertinent information.
||Yes, what [UnaBubba] said. Thank you.
||Governments in democracies (whatever they are
these days) are bound by strictures that
totalitarian regimes are not. For instance, judicial
and parliamentary oversight procedures, consumer
advocacy agencies and the press.
||The pressure on government agencies and their
staff to do things in a way that is transparent and
legal is exactly the same pressure that sees
apparent concessions granted to people we all
know are probably bad but we feel should get a
"fair go" anyway. The detainees, past and
present, of the US facility at Guantanamo Bay are
a case in point.
||We all know they were swept up for a reason but
the US government was playing hardball on
disclosure and access to due process. In the
melee, the US did itself a lot of damage
diplomatically, by refusing to allow the citizens of
other countries the same rights as its own. It's a
basic tenet of international law that you treat
everyone on your soil in the same way.
||Claiming that Gitmo was "not on US soil" was
disingenuous and stupid. If a Cuban soldier tries
stepping on that patch of "not US soil" then there
will be a brief and bloody gun battle, I would
||Every now and then I look at my overall List of Ideas
posted here at the HalfBakery, and see something old
that has acquired new relevance. Given the ongoing
NSA scandal, this Idea appears to be one of the
"newly relevant" ones....