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Spooky Chatterboxes

A distributed, democratic method of making the NSA's job harder
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With Echelon a well-documented reality and AT&T piping all their customer's data to the NSA, ordinary people need a way to fight back against (or at least proactively disagree with) a surveillance system grown out of control. Encryption? Sure, but getting all of your friends to use PGP isn't an easy sell. "Spook word" pages? These seem more self-indulgent than genuinely disruptive, primarily because they are static pages that, after they manage to get their single red flag thrown up, can be easily checksum'd and ignored happily ever after.

Now clearly, there are words which, if sent through an unencrypted email or chat session, will get it logged for review. I believe the known flagging of specific words (or word combinations) combined with the highly ephemeral nature of online conversations together provide an ideal mechanism for creating 'chatter' which may be able, with enough users, to appreciably decrease the signal-to-noise ratio of online surveillance activities.

Imagine a small client that sits on a user's computer, with the capability to talk to any other client on any other user's computer. The clients can then send messages back and forth to each other using a variety of IM and chat protocols. Each session between clients would consist of a few innocuous computer-constructed messages and then one or two featuring well-known "hot words". Eventually, with enough people running the program, the pipelines would be flooded with talk of all manner of alarming things - that no one except those engaging in surveillance would ever actually see.

Tzaquiel, May 10 2006

What are those words that trigger Echelon? http://www.theregis...at_are_those_words/
The Register's take on spook words [Tzaquiel, May 10 2006]

European Commission Final Reprt on ECHELON http://cryptome.org/echelon-ep-fin.htm
[Tzaquiel, May 10 2006]

EFF's Class-Action lawsuit against AT&T http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/
Oh crap. [Tzaquiel, May 10 2006]

[link]






       ... So, the guy leaning on that broom over there is?
... NSA.
reensure, May 10 2006
  

       I was going to bun this, but then I got scared...
BunsenHoneydew, May 11 2006
  

       //I must have missed the onus. Why are we trying to make the NSA's job harder? Is it that we don't want national security, or because we want to help terrorists communicate incognito. I'm confused. [-]//   

       I agree. Including the bone. Whether we like it not, making it difficult for organisations like the NSA isn't going to stop them monitoring anyone. Close and shelf that book please.
kuupuuluu, May 12 2006
  
      
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