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Dave Ross

Trolling the NSA

Critics of the National Security Agency will tell you that there’s no proof that the NSA’s surveillance of phone records has stopped even one terrorist attack.

Of course, it’s hard to prove why something didn’t happen.

But what’s strange to me about this debate is seeing who is most upset at the NSA. It’s young people who work in the tech industry like Jeff Lyon, who started a movement called “Stop Watching Us.” And he’s posted a video on a new anti NSA app he’s written called Flagger.

“The app that helps you troll the NSA – better than ever.”

What it does, once you turn it on, is pepper your personal Internet traffic with red-flag words, so that every time you do anything on the Internet — you’re sending out the kind of words terrorists might send out.

“Right away we can see some red flags coming through,” explains Lyon. “9/11, chemical and undetected. And over here we see message: ‘Dear NSA, Stop watching us.'”

That’ll teach ’em!

The irony is that the whole Internet industry where these young techies work is all about trading personal information.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon — they exist to spy on your every keystroke for the purpose of targeting personal ads at you.

I know, there are sites that swear they never collect anything personal – kind of like the NSA swears it’s not listening to phone conversations, but you have no way of knowing whether they do or not. In fact, you have no way of knowing whether some random hacker has turned on your computer’s microphone or camera without your permission.

Jeff certainly has every right to try to flood the NSA’s receptors with bogus clues, “I really hope you enjoy the app. Have fun – and stick it to the NSA.”

Fair enough, Jeff.

But I have yet to read a single story of some innocent person being shipped off to Gitmo for something he or she wrote in an email.

And wouldn’t it be even more fun to use your energies to stick it to all the clandestine information-gatherers out there?

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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