= N =
NSA line eater n.
The National Security Agency trawling
program sometimes assumed to be reading the net for the
U.S. Government's spooks. Most hackers used to think it was
mythical but believed in acting as though existed just in case.
since the mid-1990s it has gradually become known that the
NSA actually does this, quite illegally, through its Echelon
The standard countermeasure is to put loaded phrases like `KGB',
`Uzi', `nuclear materials', `Palestine', `cocaine', and
`assassination' in their sig blocks in a (probably futile)
attempt 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 text.
As far back as the 1970s there was a mainstream variant of this
myth involving a `Trunk Line Monitor', which supposedly used speech
recognition to extract words from telephone trunks. This is much
harder than noticing keywords in email, and most of the people who
originally propagated it 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. Twenty years and several orders of technological
magnitude later, however, there are clear indications that the NSA
has actually deployed such filtering (again, very much against
--Jargon File, autonoded by rescdsk.