August 15, 2022

App Tries to Stick It to Gov’t Spying by ‘Flooding the Internet With Red Flag Key Words’

There are certain keywords in electronic communications that the government, law enforcement and spy agencies might watch for. But in light of recent domestic spying, which privacy advocates feel far overstepped its legal bounds, one app is hoping to turn these keywords against the government.

Flagger is a browser add-on with the intention of “flooding the Internet with red flag keywords,” like bomb or Taliban.

The point of Flagger, created by Jeff Lyon, is theoretically to send the NSA “a collectively powerful statement through the individual free-speech messages that each user can send out.”


It is similar in concept to the Where is Obama? map, which tries to crowd-source the president’s location at any given moment to turn the story about tracking NSA leaker Edward Snowden into “a story about tracking Obama.”

Although both ideas don’t necessarily expect to result in direct change, they are in the spirit of “civil protest,” as Flagger’s FAQs put it.


The app’s FAQs acknowledged that the browser extension is “not a solution to the problem of unconstitutional government surveillance” though.

“But as long as the NSA continues to illegally spy on us, we have no reason to make their jobs any easier,” the FAQ stated.

Watch Lyon’s Flagger tutorial:

Quartz reported that Lyon’s brother, Andrew Lyon, also created, an app that stores encrypted notes.

“…even if the NSA wiretaps your Internet connection, even if an army of mercenaries storms our data-center and steals our hard drives, your data is unreadable to everyone, including us,” Lyon said, according to Quartz, of the app.

The NSA has been under fire in recent months after Snowden leaked classified documents about surveillance programs, meant to thwart potential terrorist plots.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ron Wyden and NSA chief Keith Alexander clashed in an exchange about the agency’s potential tracking of cellphone locations.