Electronic surveillance discussion (archive)
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Archivist's note There is a separate Project ECHELON discussion. The original dates of the messages here were not saved before the Ice Cave was destroyed, and the page (http://www.fortunecity.com/tatooine/leiber/50/dgelsec.htm) is not in the Internet Archive. The discussion took place around April 1998, through June of that year.

From: Jeff McSpadden

This webpage of mathematical error has an excellent simple description of how modern encryption works and why they are so htrd to break.


From: Ricardo J. Mendez

The only glitch in the document is that it points out that PGP is available only to US and Canadian citizens, which fortunately is not true. Anyone can get the latest PGP version at

The International PGP Home Page http://www.pgpi.com/

From: Robert Thomas

The PGP home page won't let you get the American version of PGP 5 if you live outside the USA / Canada. You can get the full version from several sites which I can't remember at present. These should be listed somewhere in alt.security.pgp or you could just ask for them. Hypothetically if you have real trouble finding it then just hypothetically you could e-mail me and I could Hypothetically sort something out ;)

From: Usul

So does it sniff your IP address to determine you location? If so maybe a IP Spoofer would work…..

From: Jeff McSpadden

I was in the Air Force for a term of service working with satellites, so if anyone needs info on that I can help a bit (mainly worked with infrared imaging sats).

Ok, I'll bite on this one. Is there anything that you can do to enhance a target on the ground for detection by satellites? Anything that would make it easier to track by satellite. Radioactive powder, an isotope in a pin, ir generator, a specially designed 1"x1" block that looks like a zeppelin when hit by radar, are some of my fictional ideas. Do you know of any more?

From: Nezach

Any Recon satellite is a very bad sensor for tracking a person or even a group of people.

If you have a satellite that uses an infrared detector making something radar reflective isn't going to make it easier for that sat to pick the object up. Making something hot won't help a radar sat, etc. You get the Idea.

Bad Hollywood movies aside IR sats are only good at picking up very, very hot signatures. A rocket exhaust plume (rocket as in space launch vehicle or ballistic missile, not anti-tank rockets) or something re-entering the atmosphere. You can't track a person with IR from orbit like they did in Patriot Games. For that you have to have the IR sensor in the atmosphere.

Photo Imaging sats have the resolution to pick people out but you are still looking at the top of their head which isn't that great for Iding people. And their lower orbits mean that there will be large amounts of time where they can't cover the area you want to look at.

Radar Sats are used to track surface fleets. Trying to pick out people even with a millimetre band radar out of the background noise would be nigh impossible with current generation tech.

Of course this can all get hand waived if you assume that satellites are using borrowed grey technology. Just assume that all the abductee's have been implanted with a chip or a crystal that resonates at a certain frequency. A satellite broadcasts a broadband signal and all implants send a pulse back out to get received by the sat which then tells whomever is operating it where those people are.

From: Jeff McSpadden

Shamelessly stolen from http://censored.sonoma.edu/ProjectCensored/top_stories.html

"Exposing the Global Surveillance System"

"Little Known Federal Law Paves The Way for National Identification Card"

"Big Brother Goes High-Tech"

"The Pentagon's Mysterious HAARP Project"

From: The Man in Black

no discussion of the HAARP can be complete without mentioning the Philadelphia experiment and the work of Nikola Tesla.

From: Graeme Price

I guess this is quite different from the other HAARP program (which IIRC stood for High Altitude Artillery Research Project - doubtless I will be corrected by Agents who are more aware of this operation) which was headed by the Canadian Gerald Bull.

The story goes that Dr. Bull later went on to work for the Iraqis on their "Supergun" project before being assassinated (allegedly) by Mossad - who were understandably peeved that Saddam was hiring people to produce a weapon capable of lobbing artillery shells from western Iraq to Tel Aviv!

As I understand it, the Iraqi Supergun was never completed (due to the interception of the British manufactured barrel parts which were ostensibly part of an oil pipeline… as if you needed rifling to shift oil along a tube! Of course that is quite a different story), but a smaller prototype was successfully tested.

Off the point I guess, but with military acronyms you can never be sure!

From: "John Gallant"

In Las Vegas, maybe 4 years ago, the city attempted to put up cameras on the freeways to monitor traffic. As Vegas was growing so quickly, the local govt. was in a rush to get all the info it could on traffic patterns so it could move its beltway plans forward. After a day or so, someone tipped a local ultra-conservative cable access show host/ATF target to the presence of the cameras. He urged "right-minded citizens" to remove the cameras. Within a week they were all shot out. At the time the city wasn't about to pay to replace them, so there was no beltway in the near future, at least by the time I left 2 years later.

The truth is, big brother is actually a bunch of balding bureaucrats in $200 suits trying to keep their cubicle-filled worlds from erupting into chaos. Kinda sad really.

From: Totoro25

In regards to your Vegas story. I live in Houston and they have put cameras up on every freeway. They added them during their other construction. All you have to to is look to the left or right while driving and you can see them up on top of their poles watching everyone. Big Brother is alive and doing well in our town.

From: NICK

in the UK we have speed cameras all over the place; interestingly, although the maximum speed limit in the country is 70mph on motorways, with most roads conforming to the national limit of 60mph, All speed cameras are set to go off only if the speed of a passing car exceeds 90mph. This is because the paperwork involved in prosecuting everyone who goes above the speed limit would be phenomenal. as it happens, you will have to wait on average six months to receive notice of the fact you've been caught out in particularly busy areas like Central London, even with these time-saving measures in operation. In addition, you always know when you've been caught, as you can see the flash. Given that they're ridiculously easy to damage, I have serious doubts about their relative use with regards to big brother…

From: "Taz2"

Actually, this is not the case at all. For example, most cameras in 30mph zone go off at 40+mph. In general, they are set (roughly) for the limit plus 5mph plus 10% of the limit.

the paperwork involved in prosecuting everyone would be phenomenal.

This is very much the case. When they set the first camera up, they set it for the limit and gave it a roll of film that would last (by their estimates) 2 weeks. It lasted 2 hours!

As it happens, you will have to wait on average six months to receive notice

I wish this were the case (blush)… Basically, if you don't receive a notice within two weeks of being 'flashed' you're safe. There is a legal limit on how long they can hang on to a film.

In addition, you always know when you've been caught, as you can see the flash.

Unless you find one of the IR cameras! They are gradually replacing the strobe lights with IR. Apparently, on narrow roads, when they flash a car it can blind anyone coming the other way. There have been a number of (thankfully) non-fatal accidents caused by this effect.

Given that they're ridiculously easy to damage, i have serious doubts about their relative use with regards to big brother…

It's rare to find one that has been successfully damaged. The only things I have seen is someone spraying the lens with paint… which strikes me as being quite effective…

From: "John Gallant"

It's rare to find one that has been successfully damaged. The only things I have seen is someone spraying the lens with paint… which strikes me as being quite effective…

In Reno, NV, the PD had these small trailers they'd wheel out that informed you in foot high LCD how fast you were going. They didn't precipitate tickets, but people hated having the police tell them anything. Supposedly if you went past one fast enough it alerted the police, but I've personally never found that to be the case. Nevada is home to the "Sagebrush Rebellion" and anti-govt. types are the norm. The first few trailers were shot up pretty badly. Then the police added bullet-proof glass to the face. So locals started shooting at other parts, destroying the body and wheels of the trailers. Then policed put a squad car behind them to catch people shooting. That pretty much stopped the gun fire, but the PD didn't have the money to keep the police out there, so they went back to just leaving the trailers out there, just not as often.

From: TXPaladin

I live in Galveston (the Isle of the Damned). I had heard that the cameras on the Houston Freeways were part of an experimental program to monitor traffic patterns.

Volunteers who wanted to be part of the program would get stickers with microchips in them to put on their cars. The cameras could pick out the micro-chips and see where cars were going at any given time where traffic might be stuck and which freeways needed to be bigger 'cause everyone was driving on them.

Of course, Texans (being the paranoid lurve gods we are) refused to volunteer for such an insane program and the cameras were useless. (go figure). anyway….your tax dollars at work.

From: Escutcheon

Gentlemen, apparently the Government's cover story for the equipment mounted on the area roadways was almost completely successful. It can be no coincidence however, that 96% of the working population in the Galveston area passes within visual range of these devices (or similar ones) over the course of a typical week.

From: NICK

On the A69 between Carlisle and Newcastle there were four speed cameras in operation. they sat there quite happily taking photos of everyone that sped by for the first five or four months they were up. then, one October evening, someone saw the flash, and decided to stop, wrap a chain around the base of the pole it was standing on, and then drove off with it. It was never seen again. About a week later another got wiped out in a head on collision with somebody's car, and then local youths decided to finish off the remaining two with molotov cocktails. This tends to happen a lot on certain housing estates as well, thus reducing considerably their effectiveness in combating the local joyriding problem. So although I bow to the other corrections to my hastily made statement, I don't see how they're especially difficult to damage…

From: Matthew Pook

How about just painting the lens with something? UV paint perhaps?

From: "Jon Capps"

Is there any special gear, military or otherwise, that can allow someone to tell where a person is on the other side of a wall? I had a player try to use something infrared or the like in a game some time ago. In retrospect, it sounds fishy.

A long while back I read an article or saw a show on TV (don't remember which, it's been a long time) in which some guy had invented a device that relied on radar, or maybe sonar (really loong time…) that had the ability to find people on the other side of a wall, or even buried within rubble, so long as the one being sought was still alive. Apparently, it could register the signals being bounced off a person's breathing chest. The unit was rather large at the time, but research was being done to bring it down to flashlight size. It would not do anything when aimed at a wall with nothing behind it, but when aimed at a person, the slight doppler shift caused by the signal being reflected off their expanding and contracting chest would cause a light to go on or something. It also had a readout that would give range. I don't know what kind of signal it used that would let it see through walls though…

That's all the info I can remember about it. Hope it helps..

From: Graeme Price

Well, there are devices that can do exactly this sort of thing used by the fire brigade back home (and elsewhere) to find people under rubble (useful for earthquakes) and also to find people in smoke filled rooms. They do use infrared for this.

Unfortunately, such equipment is open to abuse by players. I had problems with the equivalent (thermographic cyberoptics) in Cyberpunk a couple of years back. One PC kept using thermographic (passive IR) to shoot through walls with a BFG. Eventually I had to make a Ref call and alter the item description so that it required careful calibration to have the desired "see through walls" effect and took time to get a usable image (I gather this is one of the problems with the IR gear used by firemen) meaning it was no use for shooting with except against stationary targets.

Note that anything using passive IR will only detect temperature gradients (hot person in cold room etc.) and may not be that accurate (couldn't tell between two people - except by their rough size). Detection of objects at ambient temperature (furniture etc.) will be very difficult or impossible, except by inference (ie. you can see someone sitting down, so it's reasonable to assume that there is a chair there). What it is useful for is telling where in a building someone is, or how many people there are in a room etc. Practical use (as a real-time sensor vs. moving targets) will be limited, so no using it to spot the on-rushing Cthonian! Apart from that it's all Ref. calls I'm afraid.

From: The Man in Black

Seafood content of this tactic depends on the wall and the suspected target. I recommend using Grenades or heavy weapons to make a big hole if you want to know what's going down on the other side of a wall.

From: Andrew Sturman

Yes, this question often came up in both my cyberpunk and DG games. The technology I used was PMWI - Passive MicroWave Imaging, based solely on a New Scientist article on the subject last year (from their surveillance-tech special issue).

This technology is based on a small array of microwave receivers being used to detect the millimetre-wave radiation given off by warm sacks of H2O, i.e. people. Each receiving element acts like 1 pixel in an CCD camera, building up an image. Because of the longer wavelength of the radiation and the 'pixel-size' of the receivers, these images are of low resolution. So you probably can't use it to recognise individuals, but it is adequate for surveillance & targeting.

<good enough for government work :>

This MW radiation penetrates clothing and walls well, and is only blocked by metals. Hence to a PMWI camera a building looks like a hazy area with black metal pipes and fittings, and luminous people floating unsupported. It also has a lot of potential in airport security, since a concealed gun appears as a distinctive black shadow against the glowing body.

I forget the name of the US company making them, who is trying to sell them to police. They were offering a video camera sized unit for mounting on the dash of police cruisers.

<the privacy implications are profound - remote search without a warrant>

I'll look up the article when I get home.

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