Benjamin Grosser, a software developer from Illinois, has developed something he has called Scaremail – a browser extension he claims will foil, or at least damage, the NSA’s surveillance attempts. By now we all know that the NSA actively monitors all emails and online chats in the USA and across the world, trying to filter out key buzzwords like “Al-Qaeda”, “hostage”, “bomb” and so on. Scaremail is browser extension that plays on this list of “selector” terms used by the NSA in its Xkeyscore monitoring program. Scaremail works with Gmail to insert selector terms randomly into emails and chat messages, which get sent to yourself.
Grosser claims to have used leaked documents to compile a full list of selector terms used by the NSA and integrate this into his Scaremail program. An example of one of the sentences he developed includes:
“Captain Beatty failed on his Al-Shabaab, hacking relentlessly about the fact to phish this far, and strand her group on the wall-to-wall in calling suspicious packages”
The result is that each randomly generated sentences includes so many selector terms it will automatically notify the NSA’s filters several times and draw their attention towards it. Scaremail took him around 3 weeks to build and he hopes if enough people use it will totally overload the NSA’s surveillance system that is based on the monitoring of key selector words.
Benjamin Grosser explains that the “ability to use whatever words we want is one of our most basic freedoms, yet the NSA’s growing surveillance of electronic speech threatens our first amendment rights… ScareMail reveals one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.”
See more details on his Scaremail project here.
Image courtesy of Benjamin Grosser