Online protest hits U.S. spy agency

The placard and demo days of the 1960s may be yet another victim of technology, if recent events in the United States are any indication. Protesters tried to shut down the ultra top secret National Security Agency (NSA) last week with a new weapon: fictional emails about terrorist plots.

The electronic civil disobedience campaign wasn’t too effective, however, as organizers admitted that officials at the NSA were likely more amused than concerned about the campaign. The protesters are angry about reports that the NSA has carried out “routine and indiscriminate” monitoring of faxes, e-mails and telephone messages in Europe. If all the James Bond and Mission Impossible type of movies are to be believed, this type of spying is old hat for the NSA.

To give the NSA a run for its money (and hopefully overload their “keyword” electronic eavesdropping system) the protesters sent thousands of messages filled with “trigger” words like bomb, attack etc. The goal was to crash the NSA system with a flood of suspicious messages.

An interesting idea, even though it didn’t work. The system, intriguingly code-named “Echelon”, apparently survived the protest, at least as far as we kn. True to form, the top secret NSA declined comment on the protest. Who knows? They could be reading this.