Wearable App Displays Your Own NSA-Triggering Messages

June 20, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

“Open Informant” is an app created by Superflux that searches your phone using real NSA trigger keywords and then displays those communications on a wearable badge.

The NSA, GCHQ and other government security services secretly collect and scan our personal information and correspondence for trigger words; from the overtly malevolent: ‘anthrax’, ‘assassination’ and ‘bomb’ to the seemingly benign: ‘pork’, ‘dock’ and ‘storm’.

Featured recently in Neural Magazine, Superfulx sees the badge as a rebellion against the privacy invasion of government agencies. If they’re going to search us anyway, why not just literally brand ourselves with this “damning” communication? As opposed to buzzy wearable tech that do things like monitor your workouts or sleep patterns, “Open Informant” uses wearable tech to make surveillance culture obvious and unavoidable.

Using the body as an instrument for protest, the badge becomes a means of rendering our own voice visible in an otherwise faceless technological panopticon. By openly displaying what is currently taken by forceful stealth, we question the intrusive forms of mass surveillance adopted by democratic nations on its own citizenry, and in the process, shift the conversation around wearables from being about you and your body as machine, to the culture of machine intelligence and algorithmic monitoring.

The badges are shaped like vintage TV sets and cute clouds, an intentional attempt to appeal to popular fashion trends, and to demonstrate the absurdity of these governmental agencies scouring our everyday interactions for possible threats.


(Images: Superflux)