I suppose one way to fight back against government eavesdropping . . .

. . . would be an Internet campaign to get millions of people to call and email and text each other and discuss completely imaginary conspiracies to rob, murder, assassinate, bomb, etc. Making it impossible for the eavesdroppers to treat every such instance seriously, which in practice makes it impossible for them to treat any seriously, which defeats the whole purpose.

And it would be fun.

But there are many conceivable scenarios where it might turn ugly.

Is there any conceivable scenario where it doesn’t turn ugly?

The first dozen or so that tried this would get slapped hard as an example to others, and it would die down damnquick.

Furthermore since it doesn’t appear the the NSA is actually collecting the content of conversations and is instead collecting meta-data, you calling your friend and telling them you are going to bomb the white house will no more make you a target than calling him to tell him your available to look after his cat when he’s out of town. In order for your scheme to work, you would need to have everyone decide to e-mail and call suspected Al-Qaeda operatives, which would be harder to organize.

Oh, I know all of that, but don’t fight the hypothetical! This is at least a notion worth discussing . . .

It won’t work for reasons already posted.
Your turn.

Another good way to fight back against it would be to get crybaby Johnny Boehener and the House of Reps to defund the fucking thing.

Then we get rid of this liar.

Too bad Speaker Crybaby has all the spine of an earthworm.

This idea isn’t original. Here is a 1997 article about “Echelon Bait”. I recall some Usenetters appending words like “plutonium” earlier, ostensibly to induce NSA computers to waste a few microergs.

The link lists some of the terms NSA supposedly looked for in 1999…

By definition you’re going to waste much more of your time than the government’s, and I don’t think anything you do is going to is going to get any attention at all if all you do is email stuff with some keywords to other people who aren’t on any terror watch lists. You probably have to do a good deal more than that to get noticed in any significant way.

This was a “thing” even as far back as the Usenet and UU-net email days of the mid-1980’s, maybe even earlier. The Internet was much smaller then, and the “backbone” sites were known funnel-points where the evil government snoops could hypothetically watch everything.

It was popular for people to include a list of imagined terroristic-sounding keywords in their sigs.

When it comes to stopping the government from evesdropping, nothing succeeds like…like…

Revision: When it comes to stopping the government from evesdropping, nothing succeeds.

Back in 2008, I tried something like this as an attempt to prove to associates of mine that the government doesn’t listen to such things.

Three weeks later, two Secret Service agents showed up at my place of business, interviewed, photographed, and fingerprinted me, and gave me a stern lecture about not wasting their time and never even thinking of doing anything like that ever again.

If I had the email and cell numbers of Al-Qaeda I’d be publicizing them all over the place. I’m interested in how much Evil Terrorist Stuff they could get up to when their inboxes are full of 419 and penis pill spam and their phones are constantly ringing asking about the dozen pizzas that they ordered, debt-collection firms looking for deadbeats and the 700 Club asking if they want to be saved.

This would be a really dumb plan.

As a reality check, there are actual criminals and terrorists in the world. I’m going to assume that the NSA has obtained some useful information through its spying.

Which does not, however, justify the spying. I fully support Constitutional limits on government spying. Heck, in a thread earlier this week, I was questioning whether fingerprinting was unconstitutional.

So here’s why the OP’s suggestion is bad. It would do nothing to stop the spying which is the problem. But it would stop any benefits we gain from that spying. It would take a program that’s 99.99% bad and remove only the one hundredth of one percent of it that’s good.

What did you do, describe in detail a plan to kill the president or something?

On second thought, don’t tell me. I don’t want to be involved.

So, you’re going to waste some NSA computer cycles, drive up their electric bill by a tiny fraction of a percent, maybe produce a little bit of extra work for a couple of low-level data analysts. All of which is paid for using your tax money. I guess you can do that if you want, but I don’t see the point.

If you don’t like the government spying on you, tell your congressional representatives to repeal the laws that make it legal for them to do so. Any other action might make you feel better, but serves no other purpose.

Can you elaborate carefully? I’m interested.

Please provide more details, I’m pitching ideas to the studio tomorrow.

First of all, I think you grossly underestimate the sheer volume of information you’re talking about. Also, what phrases would you suggest and how do you know they would raise any flags at all? The purpose of data mining is more complicated than simple phrase detection. It’s about patterns of information likely across multiple mediums. This makes what you’re talking about more difficult than I think you realize.

The unintended consequence of this, btw, would likely be that nothing would happen initially, but eventually some of your “participants” would wind up in the mix when some of their fictional stuff winds up flagged. In addition to the fact that you’d be slowing what might be a useful investigation into actual terrorism, thereby putting innocents at risk, you’d also be subjecting your “participants” to unwanted scrutiny at unpredictable intervals and at times when they might not actually be able to defend themselves given that they might not know what specifically got them flagged in the first place.

I hadn’t seen this thread and accidentally started one similar. Over beers some guys were talking about inserting words like “jihad” into each and every communication. The funny thing (to me) was that I didn’t realize others considered the same idea.