September 4th, 2006

Quick, Act Suspicious!

I have a problem with being under surveillence for no particular reason. Call it paranoia if you want, or maybe overexposure to the authoritarian dystopias of subversives like George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick.

Whatever the cause, I reject the notion that whatever I choose to communicate to others in public or in private should be subject to some form of scrutiny by one law enforcement agency or another, for no justifiable reason other than the fact that said agency has the means to examine it.

I have nothing to contribute into the blogosphere this morning around the arguments defending the ideas of free speech and personal privacy, or around those arguments refuting the claim that a handful of fanatics with box cutters have forever ‘changed’ or ‘invalidated’ the ideas driving the First Amendment. Those arguments stand without the need for me to reiterate them.

However, I do have something to contribute to the blogosphere this morning: the means for you, John or Jane Q. Blogauthor, to help make data mining of the blogosphere very difficult for the Powers That Be. I’ve nicknamed it GFM, which is short for Guy Fawkes Mask. ;)

Following this post are two blocks of html/javascript code. The first block is a text generation engine that can be placed in the header section of an html page. This engine consists of a series of data arrays and three functions. The purpose of these functions is to return pseudo-randomized sentences (decent randomization, but not encryption quality by a long shot) that are likely to be picked up by data mining engines trolling for suspicious activity. All of the arrays used to create the ‘red flag’ words come from publicly-available Web sources — the two biggest being the OFAC SDN list and Wikipedia.

The second block is a simple example of how to implement the engine — simply adding a few sentences of randomized text to a paragraph in the body of an html document.

GFM is easily expandable/configurable. To put additional words into the arrays, just add elements using the existing syntax. To remove elements, just delete them. To add a new array, just populate it and call it from within a sentence form using the rtrn_name function. To add a new sentence form, just clone one of the existing case statements, increment the case value, string together a new sentence form using the existing syntax as a model, and increase the limit value for calling the rtrn_number function to match the total number of cases (otherwise the randomization won’t span your full set of sentence forms).

I tried to develop this using the KISS principle — the entire engine consists of three simple functions and an open-ended set of arrays. So, it should be portable to pretty much any language that supports a random number function, a switch/case operator, and flexible arrays. Ideally, the functions would reside on some kind of opaque server-side script (to prevent automated identification and bypassing of the engine), but that’s beyond my web skills to implement, to be perfectly honest.

Simple examples of implementation can be found here: a footer implementation and a comment-append implementation.

An entity-relationship diagram of the engine can be found here.

Following is the first block of code, which should be installed in the head section of an html page:

gfm_head.txt

Following is the second block of code, which will generate a paragraph consisting of 5 sentences using the engine, when placed inside the body of an html page:

gfm_body.txt

Please consider this ‘link-ware’. If you use it, just add a link to Bring It On to your site. Have fun, you goddamned freedom-hating terrorist sympathizer. :P

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Posted in General, Weblogs, DailyFeatured, Help/FAQ, Police State





8 Comment(s)

Leave a response »

  1. Tom Harper Says :

    You have a problem with being under surveillance?  Then obviously you’re doing something wrong.  What are you hiding?  Fess up :)

    I’ve been checking out your blog a lot lately just to see the different text lines.  That oughtta get a few FBI types pulling their hair out.


  2. Froenx Says :

    The big problem that I see with people being under surveillance all the time is you could do something that is perfectly legal one day, and then charged with a crime the next week after they institute a ‘retroactive’ law.


  3. windspike Says :

    Surveill me?  Talk about a very boring proposition. 

    Spy 1 - “look, what’s he doing now?”

    Spy 2 - “Blogging, as usual.”

    Spy 1 - “Shit, why can’t we get the Tommy and Pamela gig like Spy 3.” 


  4. Joe Snitty Says :

    Tom, I had a blast just cycling through the stuff to test it out. If you wanted, you could use the same engine for something totally unrelated — like a celebrity rumor or online personals generator. It’s really just a big old ‘Mad Lib’ that fills itself in.

    Froenx,

    I’m particularly concerned that the scope of use of data mining should expand gradually, to the point where it becomes oppressive. Nobody is ‘uncollecting’ data once it’s already been accumulated, and any safeguards or limits around its use may be subject to legislative deletion in the future.

    For example, look at all the financial tracking being done around compliance lists now. The framework is already in place, and the scope of that could easily be expanded. It’s not inconceivable that the IRS could develop threshold income/transaction ratios and use them to trigger audits in cases where they felt someone were living beyond their means — based on the volume of EFT/ACH transactions said person initiated in a year’s time compared to some norm.

    We’ve got to start asking — is that the kind of world we want for ourselves? To what extent are we willing to trade off bits and pieces of our privacy for supposed contributions to the public good?

     windspike,

    Mine’d be pretty boring, too. Blog, kids, work, dinner, kids, blog, sleep. Repeat daily.
     


  5. Froenx Says :

    Snitty;

    It’s already pushing the limits IMO.  I think I’m at the point where I won’t tolerate anything more.


  6. tos Says :

    “handful of fanatics with box cutters have forever ‘changed’ or ‘invalidated’ the ideas driving the First Amendment. “

    And look what they accomplished with those “box cutters”. That is the biggest downplay of the largest attack on US soil I have ever heard.


  7. Joe Snitty Says :

    And look what they accomplished with those “box cutters”. That is the biggest downplay of the largest attack on US soil I have ever heard.

    What doesn’t make sense is the response to the attack. In response, we…

    Improved airline pre-screening.

    Improved searches of cargo containers.

    Tightened border security.

    Stopped issuing student visas to known terrorists.

    Gave the FBI carte blanche to search the homes of US citizens without judicial oversight.

    Allowed the NSA to start tracking the phone calls of US citizens without judicial oversight.

    It sure makes me wonder where our priorities lie.


  8. Phillip Says :

    On a related note, if you want to search the OFAC SND list, there is a free website, Instant OFAC. Fun to see if you or your friends had a “hit”. :)



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