Email jamming is the use of sensitive words in emails to mislead the authorities that listen in on them by providing a form of a red herring and an intentional annoyance. It is used by some civil rights activists in an attempt to thwart government spy networks such as ECHELON. Activists deliberately include "sensitive" words and phrases in otherwise innocuous emails to ensure that these are picked up by the monitoring systems. The theory is that the senders of these emails will eventually be added to a "harmless" list and their emails no longer intercepted, thus allowing them to regain some privacy. Also, the need to process such messages in greater detail to analyze their contents can, in principle, increase the workload on the authorities' monitoring systems significantly if enough false signals are generated, thereby thwarting the purpose of monitoring.
Following plans by the UK government to monitor traffic on social networks similar schemes have been proposed for networks such as Twitter and Facebook. These would involve "friending" and "following" large numbers of random people to thwart attempts at network analysis.
- BBC (2009-03-25). "Social Network Sites 'Monitored'". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-25.