A Christmas Present for the Paranoid Among You

Worried that the NSA is monitoring your e-mail? Here is a way for you to find out, while avoiding FOIA requests which might return bogus information anyway.

The steps are simple. Set up a free webmail account. Set up another similar account using a foreign provider. Send messages between accounts with wording likely to catch the attention of the Feds. Include URLs about which you can access the site stats or server log. If the link is accessed, you will know you are being spied upon.

There might be some problems with this method, but it is probably more accurate than waiting to be served a warrant.

Props via.

UPDATE: One logical inconsistency corrected here. There are more, and I’m curious to see who catches them.

17 Comments
  1. I read this in my rss feed this morning but I decided not to try it. I don’t want to be on the terrorist watch list when I try to fly somewhere just because I was trying to find out if they were spying on me.

    I’ll just file a freedom of info request and find out if the government has ever used the Patriot Act, or wiretapped me. I am almost certain they have and are reading this blog.

  2. I saw this, looked at it, and determined it’s stupid.

    It won’t tell you anything other than whether NSA is reading e-mail that leaves the country, which we all know they are already anyway. It won’t tell you if they’re reading YOUR e-mail.

    I wasn’t going to post again until Monday, but since this has made Boing Boing for some stupid reason, I think I’ll make an exception. Get ready for a detailed explanation of exactly how NSA intelligence collection works.

  3. HS provided a bit more on his site.

    The article does have me scratching my head and wondering what sorts of traps could be devised.

  4. It’s Christmas Eve. I should be having a good stiff drink. Instead, I’m explaining the finer points of the vacuum-cleaner approach to signals intelligence.

    There is yet more to come. I probably will post on the “NSA is tapped into telecom’s main arteries” later tonight, mainly because it’s NOT news. I knew about this years ago, from open sources. That Congress doesn’t seem to read the newspaper, except when they’re in it, really scares me.

  5. I’m working on the drink and writing at the moment. : )

    I assume you are talking about snagging traffic at telecom switches entering/exiting the country?

  6. I used to work tactical and strategic telecom in the Army (mostly on the satellite carrier side) so I’m pretty familiar with all the places they could easily tap into main trunk lines. Not exactly rocket science, and I’m surprised Congress was not aware.

  7. Oh wow, James Bamford wrote an article in the Sunday Times. He’s the closest thing we have to an expert on NSA.

    As for the trunk lines, what I suspect is being covered up is the interexchange carriers’ complicity in the scheme. That is, I suspect MCI, AT&T, etc., are knowingly diverting copies of this traffic to NSA, just like Western Union did with the telegrams.

  8. Ha. You think I’m actually going to try this? I do have readers, though, who say they are going to try it, and we’ll see what happens, I suppose. $10 bucks says they get absolutely nothing.

  9. I’d raise you, but a bottle of Maker’s Mark costs around $30. Matter of fiscal priority.

  10. HS,

    I’m remotely considering running in a few years. Unlike most Libertarians, I won’t jump in unless I have ALREADY raised more than my opposition.

    You in for a few hundred bucks? :)

  11. As for the trunk lines, what I suspect is being covered up is the interexchange carriers’ complicity in the scheme. That is, I suspect MCI, AT&T, etc., are knowingly diverting copies of this traffic to NSA, just like Western Union did with the telegrams.

    Divert traffic? Why? What for? It’s easy enough to hide a couple of servers or even a couple of full racks in a datacenter (which most switching centers today generally are). You’d be surprised how much the carriers are actually using VoIP and automating the security, billing, monitoring and other such functions.

    Complicity… that word is too small.

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