You might be a terrorist if you have two cell phones, use Web proxies

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Are you concerned about your digital privacy enough to use proxies and encryption software? Do you voice chat with fellow PC gamers? If so, you might be a terrorist, according to FBI and DoJ. Public Intelligence has discovered a federal document outlining a "Communities Against Terrorism" initative that describes various "suspicious" activities and offers tips on reporting them to the government.

The guideline (PDF) lists many perfectly normal behaviors but tries to validate their inclusion by emphasizing extremes that are completely open to interpretation. For instance, someone involved in terrorist activities might be "overly" concerned about their privacy and attempt to shield their screen from view of others. Such an individual might also travel "illogical" distances to visit an Internet Café.

You might also be a terrorist if you use multiple cell phones, switch SIM cards in the same handset, mask your IP address, download information on "timers, electronics or remote transmitters/receivers", or partake in "suspicious" communications through VoIP services. The list goes as far as to mention logging on to a residential-based Internet provider, such as checking your Comcast or AOL email.

Naturally, it's virtually impossible to define what constitutes being "overly" private, traveling "illogical" distances or making "suspicious" VoIP calls. By making such broad strokes, it could be argued that anyone engaging in such activities is suspect, regardless of how innocuous they may be. Nonetheless, if you feel compelled to report your neighbor or coworker, the FBI and DoJ suggest that you:

  • Gather information about the suspects without drawing attention to yourself
  • Log license plates, vehicle descriptions, names, languages spoken and ethnicities
  • Don't collect metadata, content or search the individuals' electronic communications

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