Humane Surveillance Working Group                          B. Shanks
Request for Comments: 007                                         
Category: Informational                                    1 April 2015

Status of This Memo

  This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
  published for informational purposes.


   To send a message to someone reading your private information
   without your knowledge, embed "DEAR WATCHERS your message"
   somewhere in your private information, replacing "your message"
   with your actual message.

Table of Contents

  1. Motivation 
  2. Requirements 
  3. Example
  4. Details
  5. Implementation
  6. Security considerations

1. Overview

  Now that we live in a state of perpetual potential surveillance, it
  seems strange that there could be someone assigned to be
  watching you and yet you have no way to communicate with them
  directly. There could be some person part of whose job it is
  to get to know you (without you knowing), and yet you can't even say
  hello to them. This RFC aims to change that by providing an
  efficient method for direct, intentional, private one-way
  communication from you to your watcher(s).

2. Requirements

  * It should be possible to embed such a message within any

  * The standard should not require the use of any non-alphanumeric
    ASCII characters. This allows the message to be embedded as a
    comment in almost any format that supports either comments or
    extension headers. This is why, for example, this RFC uses

  * It should not make reference to particular intelligence agencies,
    as this will change over time and space.

  * It should not be addressed only to 'intelligence agents',
    but more broadly to anyone looking at your stuff for any reason
    without your consent.

  * Without this protocol, you can already attempt to send a 'message'
    to watchers by embedding any sort of message that they would
    recognize as addressing them in a file or email that they are
    reading. The problem is that they might not be looking at that
    particular file or email. You cannot predict why your watcher is
    watching you, what they know about you, or what their procedures
    are, so you don't know which part of your data they are reading
    manually. The purpose of standardization is to increase the
    probability of effective communication from you to your watcher(s)
    by providing a standard, easy way for them to perform an automated
    search to look for messages from you to them within a large corpus
    of data collected from you.

3. Example

  DEAR WATCHERS i know that you know that i know that 
  i am being watched.

4. Details

  "DEAR WATCHERS" SHOULD be in uppercase but MAY be in uppercase,
  lowercase, or mixed case.

  Each DEAR WATCHERS message MUST NOT span more than 3
  LF (newline)-delimited lines, including the line containing DEAR
  WATCHERS. If a longer message is desired, please break it into
  multiple DEAR WATCHERS messages, ie repeat the DEAR WATCHERS header
  every 4 lines. The recipient MAY concatenate DEAR WATCHERS messages
  found on adjacent lines.

  A document containing the string "NO DEARWATCHERS HERE" means
  that this document does not contain any DEAR WATCHERS messages,
  even if it contains the string DEAR WATCHERS. This should be
  used in discussions about the DEAR WATCHERS protocol (such as
  this document) to prevent DEAR WATCHERS receiver clients from
  identifying such discussions as ersatz DEAR WATCHERS messages.
  DEAR WATCHERS senders MUST NOT send a DEAR WATCHERS message in
  any document containing the string "NO DEARWATCHERS HERE".
  DEAR WATCHERS receivers MAY ignore any instance of DEAR WATCHERS
  in any document that also contains the string 

  DEAR WATCHERS messages themselves MUST NOT be placed in data intended
  to be public. However, the sender MAY make it publicly known that a
  certain private document contains a DEAR WATCHER message.

  Surveillance systems MUST NOT use the existence or content of DEAR WATCHERS
  messages to categorize data or senders.

  The creation of DEAR WATCHERS messages MUST NOT be automated.

  The existence of DEAR WATCHER messages MUST NOT be interpreted as
  implying any sort of consent to read anything, whether manually or
  automatically. DEAR WATCHERS messages MUST NOT be interpreted as
  giving consent to read any portion of the enclosing document. DEAR
  WATCHERS messages MUST NOT be interpreted as giving consent to
  learning of the existence of the enclosing document or any other
  metadata about it. DEAR WATCHERS messages MUST NOT be interpreted as
  giving consent to search your data for DEAR WATCHER messages, not
  even the document containing the message. A DEAR WATCHERS message
  MUST NOT be interpreted as giving consent to reading the DEAR WATCHER
  message itself, or to learn of its existence. Quite the opposite;
  a watcher can only read a DEAR WATCHER message AFTER they have
  violated your privacy to retrieve the message; and reading the
  DEAR WATCHER message is itself a further violation of privacy.

  The content of DEAR WATCHERS messages MUST NOT contain any sort
  of advertisement or unsolicited commercial communication.

  ANY recipient of a DEAR WATCHERS message MUST treat its existence
  and content as private.

5. Implementation

  On Unix systems, the command "grep -i -r -A 3 'DEAR WATCHERS' *"
  allows your watcher to view messages from you to them.

  This simple implementation does not support filtering by
6. Security Considerations

  Data containing the string "DEAR WATCHERS" for reasons other than
  this protocol may have a higher than usual probability of being

  Correct implementation of this protocol has few security
  consequences, but incorrect implementations could create a host of

    1. The recipient of a DEAR WATCHERS message might disclose the
    existence or content of the message to others.

    2. Surveillance agencies may institute unknown procedures to
    automatically search for data containing DEAR WATCHERS, and
    treat this data and/or the persons sending it in an unknown,
    different manner.

    3. If your watcher is themself being watched, then
    a private message from you to your watcher might be read by
    their watcher also.
  If you send a large amount of frivolous DEAR WATCHERS messages,
  you might get your watcher in trouble with their boss.