Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The NSA Allows You To Search And See If You're A Terrorist

The Consumerist.com

And just in time for the 5th anniversary of September 11th comes yet another database for hackers to play with, this time courtesy of NSA . That's not the National Security Agency. The National Surveillance Agency, whose motto is "Extractum Quislibet Infideli."

Suspect someone of being a no good terrorist? Just go on over to NSATT.org and type their name and state in. You will then be able to search through the NSA records to see if they are likely to be baby killing Islamic fascists. You can also find out their full address (handy!) and the first five digits of their social security number. The last four have been blocked out for the prospective terrorist's security, leaving a mere 10,000 possible combinations to brute force your way through.

I decided to play around with it.

I tried typing in my name. Luckily, my family is not suspected of terrorism, despite numerous trips I've made to the Middle East. I tried Ben's name. Surely, he's a terrorist. But I was disappointed. I tried Gina Trapani of Lifehacker — without a doubt, the sweetest girl in the entire universe. No dice. But then I set my sights higher and tried Gawker overlord Nick Denton.

Holy crap! Now, I have no idea if this is the Nick Denton. But it certainly raises some startling questions, doesn't it? Is The Consumerist a terrorist front? Am I, unwittingly, a member of Al Qaeda?

The answer to all these questions, of course, is no, followed by "don't be retarded". 8 emails and 9 phone calls over a 6 year period to people who happen to be Native Muslims does not a terrorist make, let alone make them a "high terrorist threat."

This strikes me as a security and privacy nightmare. And, of course, there's no link at all to remove yourself from being searched by anyone with a mind to. Of course, there is a link to report someone as a terrorist. Handy, that.

I'm not sure what's worse: the government quantifying our terrorist threat level by phone calls and emails to Arabs, or then allowing anyone to just happily search through the results and try to hack it. But then a larger question emerges: is this site even affiliated with the government? According to the website, no. "The Agency is an independent, non-government organization and is in no way affiliated with any branch of any government or any company that provides telephone or telegraph communications services." So how the hell are they getting their information?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out the FAQ for answers to those questions: FAQ.


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