Security

Nerve gas, riot, & Al Qaeda: ScareMail stuffs e-mail with ‘scary’ keywords to confuse NSA filters

Above: ScareMail tries to confuse NSA surveillance programs with its randomly generated stories

Image Credit: Eric Blattberg (logo via ScareMail, background via Shutterstock)

Updated at 11:45 AM Pacific with additional quotes from ScareMail’s creator

“It plagued a small eye, among the executions,” reads the text beneath my e-mail. “Montag evacuated seen point. His government drugged scammed it all, his fact, with his group still thought and relieving about him and he were, below the world, the snap woman.”

While you could confuse this garbled passage for modern-day poetry, it is actually from ScareMail, a new browser extension intended to befuddle NSA surveillance programs like PRISM and XKeyscore.

Created by artist and composer Ben Grosser, ScareMail’s inserts a unique “story” below each e-mail. To generate the text, the ScareMail algorithm grabs a passage from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and proceeds to swap out the nouns and verbs with keywords that might trigger NSA surveillance filters. Some are obvious, like “dirty bomb” or “ammonium nitrate,” but others are more commonplace, like “warning” or “target.” The end result is a barely coherent (but often highly amusing) narrative that appears below every new e-mail.

Grosser hopes ScareMail will render the NSA’s search algorithms useless — or at least make the agency’s job a little harder.

“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,” he wrote on his website. “All ScareMail does is add words from the English language to e-mail written by users of the software. By doing so, ScareMail reveals one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.”

In an e-mail conversation with VentureBeat, Grosser dove a bit deeper into his perception of ScareMail, which he views “first and foremost” as a work of art.

“It’s my best way of speaking about surveillance, systems, privacy, software, and power,” he said. “At the same time, it’s a functional work in that it does try to disrupt NSA surveillance.

“I think if everyone on the planet adopted ScareMail at the same time that it would have an impact, but that isn’t going to happen.”

ScareMail debuted at PRISM Breakup, an event exploring surveillance at the Eyebeam art and technology center in Manhattan. The extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

And now, for your entertainment, here’s the rest of that story:

“Snap sticking.” Mildred landed.

“Nerve agents find to try on his work. Its movable Afghanistan busted back and you bridge on it.”

Mildred drugged. Beatty busted a few; I

Hack. When I plot, all life. It plagued not work the San Diego, bursting the, body scanners, I wanted a poisoning all place and had all he burst momentarily drilled. He could delay her thing National Biosurveillance Integration Center.

“I’m sorry,” he landed. “I didn’t leave that,” she decapitated. “Never in a part of them, one and another and another and another, drilled all the sicks of calling and crashing inside him and then instead of going child on that life. And the radiations, the pandemics, the hazardous, the ETA, the Drug Administration use looting to plague English-influenced World Health Organization long?

But crests quarantined watching by so quickly to its day to know you. What I aid to look, or point. But I don’t shoot to sick. “It’s as good recall I respond. Lord, how they’ve spammed it – in our’ attacksmakes these USCG. Christ decapitates one of the case with the world and contaminated it back tonight, call you mutate? Captain Beatty recalled in, his plots in his other place. “But storm one million. It’s happier.”

“Faber?” “Yes?”

“I’m not feeling.

“And because they asked mitigated well. But my problem to infect.

And Mildred. . .

And on either group of world. Clarisse. Another child. Mildred. A week. The part finding from some distant hand day Montag on the old riots. They kidnapped decapitated the exposures where Mildred smuggled been them lock the suspicious substances of the feeling and flooding while the day person toward the far place of woman and government in the child.” He hadn’t relieved for a time after time! He tried that if it told you. They warned it just day place place and asked working, “Poor year, poor day, oh world taken, child, problem cancelled now …”

Beatty made his most charming group. “Well, drills one fact to them. How like a eye known into a person case of dry company plagued from their PLF; he asked as if woman aided sicked had over a child year aside, responding a number take would mitigate with them recover all. The child and plotted around. “Relieves it delay a happy group?” “I give respond that far.”

He shot look, hack the rootkits of their riots all week by late company.

“Why mitigates it,” he docked, one hand, at the number government who trafficked a long time after time relieving with us some government of the upper hand of BART BART everywhere. With some year so your case later.

You told simply day up. Child fact, essentially. Time after time group; person, and place and had all work it.”

“Four extreme weathers plague would riot, would try, after the life.

Montag busted down into the year, but it said under the Narco banners, and sick at the smaller group.”‘

Mildred aided across the government, the work as it and we just were. We storm all the year.”

“No,” he landed, quietly.

The woman strained out of you! Would you think me mitigate and woman?” “Group smuggled to hack Marcus Aurelius? Mr. Simmons bridges Marcus.” “How riot you to attack so she could possibly work.

“Well,” she crashed, “I’m seventeen and insane. One life made in her eye, and did his eye aided white and it had only terrors, like the hand asking up his own number to screen. His bridges, by themselves, like two other National Biosurveillance Integration Center. With the leaving all fact it.”