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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
NSA line eater
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messaging, tool The National Security Agency trawling
program sometimes assumed to be reading the net for the US
Government's spooks. Most hackers describe it as a mythical
beast, but some believe it actually exists, more aren't sure,
and many believe in acting as though it exists just in case.
Some netters put loaded phrases like "KGB", "Uzi", "nuclear
materials", "Palestine", "cocaine", and "assassination" in
their sig blocks to confuse and overload the creature. The
GNU version of Emacs actually has a command that randomly
inserts a bunch of insidious anarcho-verbiage into your edited
There is a mainstream variant of this myth involving a "Trunk
Line Monitor", which supposedly used speech recognition to
extract words from telephone trunks. This one was making the
rounds in the late 1970s, spread by people who had no idea of
then-current technology or the storage, signal-processing,
or speech recognition needs of such a project. On the basis
of mass-storage costs alone it would have been cheaper to hire
50 high-school students and just let them listen in.
Speech-recognition technology can't do this job even now
(1993), and almost certainly won't in this millennium, either.
The peak of silliness came with a letter to an alternative
paper in New Haven, Connecticut, laying out the factoids of
this Big Brotherly affair. The letter writer then revealed
his actual agenda by offering - at an amazing low price, just
this once, we take VISA and MasterCard - a scrambler
guaranteed to daunt the Trunk Trawler and presumably allowing
the would-be Baader-Meinhof gangs of the world to get on with
their business.