Does the NSA hate 24 and similar shows?

Just a speculation thread really, as I would imagine anyone who is actually in a position to comment on this would be forbidden to do so. However I have always wondered. (Also, a friendly hello to my new friends at the Secret Service and NSA!)

There’s this great action-adventure show called 24. It’s about a counter-terrorism team trying to stop various nefarious plots from happening. Now in the course of this show, various bad guys attack the good guys from every angle. There are assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, shootings, hijackings, double agents and all other manner of attempts at causing mayhem. So in any given episode you have terrorists attempting to kill CTU agents, government officials, civilians, et cetera.

Now the (non-fictional, real world) NSA has a very real task of monitoring internet traffic and red-flagging anything that has certain keywords in it. 24 (and similar shows) must drive them nuts. After every episode many many many internet message boards light up with commentary on the latest developments. So somewhere in the NSA architecture some lucky person gets to sort through page after page after page of “Wow, I can’t believe the PRESIDENT almost got smoked by that BOMB!” or “That TERRORIST ATTACK on the WHITE HOUSE was such BS!” Basically every episode is going to generate tons of internet traffic full of the keywords that might indicate real terrorist shenanigans going down. So does this mean that some actual analyst somewhere has to read every single review thread for 24 (and every other show that mentions TERRORISTS, BOMBS, WMDs, etc) and figure out if there is some actual bad guy out there trying to use the show as cover for plotting a real attack? The way I see it they don’t have too many good options here. It’s either ignore the red-flagged traffic and potentially miss some plotting going on right out in the open or read through every… single… post. To the actual NSA probably 99.9 percent of it is going to be wasted effort. So can we suppose that every time an episode of a certain show comes on, employees of the NSA are pounding their heads on their desks in frustration, saying “Not this shit again!”?

Your OP needs some Allah references

Assuming the NSA actually tries to monitor every online use of a keyword (which I highly doubt) I would imagine that 24 fan boards are a lot less annoying than various conspiracy theory boards. The TV show posts are almost certainly a lot more coherent.

I doubt it. NSA for a long time was unknown to the majority of the country, so they enjoy the bit of recognition. Always helps during budget discussions.

Besides, most of the things seen that reflect the NSA in some way are either completely wrong, or a wag by someone that may happen to be correct by shear luck. If anyone was working with the show as an advisor, and didn’t get everything cleared first by NSA would end up in jail.

There has never been any real evidence that they do this, or anything close to this. Sure, there are wiretaps and listening posts and cable splices all over the place for intelligence-gathering, but the idea that NSA is monitoring all, or even a tiny fraction, of Internet traffic is beyond absurd.

24 debuted a few months after 9/11 (parts of the pilot were actually changed to remove the image of an exploding airplane). It’s initial popularity coincided with the rise of the Internet as a pop culture force. So if it wasn’t 24 it was going to be something else. Bombs, terrorists, WMDs, Presidential assassinations. These things are pretty common fictional tropes. Especially after 9/11, because now you can go says its “realistic.”

If anything, Microsoft should hate 24 as the show has never portrayed computer technology that even remotely matches up with real life. Think of how ridiculous “I’ll send you my screen” sounds and then multiply that by every episode of 24 ever.

Uh, no one monitoring or indexing anything on the net, including text, is looking for keywords. That is sooo 1995. It is strictly a statistical operation now, and any particular post reviewing a tv show is not going to set off bells.

If you work out a code ahead of time, it would be painfully easy to slip terrorist plans inside seemingly innocuous threads like that. Which has always made me think the idea of ECHELON is probably a lot more complex than its portrayed in fiction.

And, of course, then there’s jokers like me. When I was a freshman in college, I sent an email to a friend that just said “Good luck assassinating the president tomorrow” because he was taking part in some response demonstration of his school’s campus safety squad. His role was “The Assassin” and for some reason the campus safety people made a point of saying he’d be shooting at the president.

There is actually an online service that scans websites for keywords, so that anyone can easily go in and find them. That service also provides a function where you can tell it to ignore pages with other such keywords:

bomb president allah -bauer -24 -FOX

I don’t know whether the NSA hates 24 or not, but I do know that there’s not a large need for them to have their own system for indexing the web. Google does it for them.

I thought in general that the military industrial complex types loved 24. I know McCain loves it and I have to admit I have only seen bits and pieces, but isn’t it pretty much right wing torture porn?

I strongly suspect the NSA doesn’t suspect you because your e-mail is all about assassinating the President. I’d imagine that they read your e-mail because they suspect you because they have some other intelligence reason to keep an eye on you.

Having been a corporate computer forensic and electronic discovery expert for the past six years, I can tell the OP with a reasonable degree of certainty that there is absolutely no way the NSA or anyone else is monitoring all internet communications in any sort of real time manner. It’s just too much data to index and search. When we do an investigation of a large company, it takes weeks or months to collect, process and analyze the data using the latest contextural based search technology.

Also, your company isn’t reading your emails. They may store them and there is even software for preventing you from sending certain information. But I have never actually seen a company where they are actually monitoring their employees email.

(bolded the relevant section)
I am a former IT worker drone, and have caught one of my bosses with his employees email up on his screen a couple times. I worked at another company where the boss openly admitted that he had access to his employees email, and would look through it when he was bored. This was pre-9/11, so it had nothing to do with terrorism.

That would get your boss fired at a lot of places.

It is certainly not out of the realm of posibility that people in the company other than you have access to your Exchange / Lotus Notes mailbox. Especially at smaller, less professional companies. And someone can certainly gain access to your emails if they needed to for some reason.

In terms of actively monitoring your email, most companies are not willing to go through the time and expense for such a marginal benefit. There is just too much of it.

But you should certainly treat your email as if someone in the future might have to read it.