Global Surveillance — You Know, for Kids!


Of the many creepy child-oriented government Web sites, I'd say the NSA's kiddie site is the most inspired:

What's cryptology? Cryptology is making and breaking codes. It's so cool….Our Nation's leaders and warfighters count on the technology and information they get from NSA/CSS to get their jobs done. Without NSA/CSS, they wouldn't be able to talk to one another without the bad guys listening and they wouldn't be able to figure out what the bad guys were planning.

Someone has clearly spent a lot of time writing up extensive bios for the site's characters (meet Joules, the saxophone-wielding engineering prodigy squirrel) and dreaming up fun surveillance games. (Can you correctly identify badges for all three levels of security?)

Via Crooks and Liars.

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  1. Kids, have you noticed anything fishy going on with those crazy adults? Help us catch the bad guys by sending us encrypted messages with their activities and whereabouts!

  2. That site’s been up for a few years. I agree, it’s creepy…and yet corny. They’ve also constructed the regular site so it keeps advertising the kids’ page (“apply for a job at the NSA? Check out our NSA KIDS PAGE!”), as if they’re so proud of it they REALLY want everyone to see it.

  3. Would you like to know more?

  4. Hmm. As a kid, I was fascinated by codes and ciphers. Being able to get information from the website of the government agency that specializes in secret codes would probably have been pretty cool. Although, with all that Flash coolness, I’m guessing updates are pretty rare.

    I find the trademark notice amusing:

    “Crypto Cat, Decipher Dog, CryptoKids and the associated images are trademarks of the National Security Agency.”

  5. “What’s this, Daddy?”
    “This is your ‘My First PGP Key’, Dear.”
    “What does it do?”
    “Gives the NSA ulcers.”

  6. Hey, complexisomorphism, I couldn’t agree with you more!

  7. Hey, cryptography/cryptology are pretty cool, just not when you have to do them for the government.

  8. Any kid that interested in government cryptology probably doesn’t want to be infantilized to such an extent.

  9. lurker,
    That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the site. They should have thought a little bit more about the target audience.

  10. It’s probably code for something more interesting.

  11. I know–we can take every 42nd or 69th letter from their site and come up with their plans for the next few years. Hey, it works for the Bible, why not the NSA? 🙂

  12. linguist – I thought you were going to use the old joke: “The NSA is hiring computer scientists and mathematicians for ongoing projects in communications research. If you are interested and would like a brochure, just pick up your phone and call anybody.”

  13. JD,
    Never heard that one. 🙂 But I did apply to the NSA and I was pretty shocked at how they went about doing their background checks. A woman called me with some really transparent b.s. story about why she needed to talk to my last three landlords and could I please give her their names and phone numbers!

    (They didn’t want me, and perhaps that’s for the best.)

  14. No wonder parents are worried about their kids on the internet.

    – Josh

  15. An NSA www page… for kids?

    I imagine the child who’d want to peruse that would be like the 9-11 obsessed kid from a recent episode of “Without A Trace;” paranoid, whiny, and willing to blow up his school to prove that it was “not safe.”

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