When the opportunity to fuck with the NSA arises, why not take it?

As a Muslim-American, I’m probably on a list! As a Pakistani-Muslim-American, I’m probably on several lists. Even Trump wants me on a database! When traveling I expect a full search, through my belongings and my person–even though the wildest thing I carry is an Ambassador Edition 3DS. These lists are the property of the NSA and FBI, passively facilitating anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the United States. So when the opportunity to fuck with the NSA arises, why not take it?

 

Enter ScareMail.

 

ScareMail acts as a red-herring towards the NSA’s email surveillance programs. The NSA has been surveilling various email services looking for terrorists through email interactions, a weird place to look for terrorists, right? You would think they’d be smarter…and they are. ScareMail is a generator which vomits words and phrases that the NSA deemed as “selectors” (keywords which purportedly help try and find terrorists).

 

Ben Grosser, the creator behind ScareMail, believes this information collecting to be invasive and senseless. Grosser feels strongly about the government waste, stating that “[the NSA’s keyword searching] is a governmental surveillance machine run amok, algorithmically collecting and searching our digital communications in a futile effort to predict behaviors based on words in emails.”

 

Grosser released ScareMail as a Google Chrome extension, which appends ScareMail as the email’s footer. This forces the NSA to look at nonsense with their search algorithms and delves into a larger discussion on privacy and invasion.

 

The National Security Agency has many programs which many feel violate privacy standards in the United States. For instance, collecting information from email, texts and phone calls.

 

Journalist Sarah Parvani argues that the “National Security Agency’s surveillance program that keeps tabs on almost every phone call in the U.S. is illegal and should be shut down–especially considering no terrorist threats have been discovered through the massive data collection, according to a new report released by a federal privacy watchdog.”

 

This is quite interesting. If the NSA is not catching terrorists with this system, why continue to utilize this invasive and debated collection of information from citizens? There may be a secondary reason to this invasion.

 

Think about the how many illegal acts we commit a day. There’s even a collection of dumb laws which are (or have been in the past) illegal–here’s some old laws in Virginia. And as college students, are you discussing any planned future illegal acts on messaging services?

 

But how important is constant monitoring of citizens’ communications? Does Grosser’s generator act as a slight annoyance or does it spawn an important discussion on how privacy is invaded unnecessarily, and how we as citizens need to be wary?

 

Grosser has one thing to say about this, that “ScareMail reveals one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.” Grosser, a strong advocate for the first amendment thinks that these efforts are strongly against our basic rights as citizens of the United States.

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