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The NSA's patents are terrifying and confusing

The NSA's patents are terrifying and confusing
U.S. Patent Office

Getting the real story behind what the National Security Agency is up to is almost an impossible task. What the agency that is actively spying on your computer can't hide, though, is the patents they've been applying for since 1979.

Espionage has changed a lot since the NSA got started, and patenting a snooping innovation could mean that the technology could eventually be licensed to private buyers. Foreign Policy Magazine realized that, seeing as how this information is public knowledge, they could request a full list from the U.S. Patent Office.

They did, and the results are strange to say the least. Here are some of the stranger patents that I saw on the list.

  • A larger-than-normal child's car seat
  • A seal to indicate whether or not a cup has been tampered with
  • A "game board" shown above
  • "Space integrating ambiguity processor"
  • "Locally nulled sine-wave total power alarm for intrusion detecting optical communications systems"

The last two that I linked were part of a massive increase in patents filed since the year 2000. Or, basically, the moment after the Internet was available in most American homes. The NSA has obtained 125 patents since 2005, and all of them are public knowledge.

What isn't public knowledge is any evidence that the NSA actually uncovers. Why? It's "too complex," the NSA claims.

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