CMU Privacy Day Mostly Successful

Atcher-Tay Ontgomery-May, Pig Latin Codemaster

A week ago as of the publication of this fine satire magazine (i.e. last Thursday, January 28th), an amazing event was held in honor of International Data Privacy Day. The event was so private that in fact, the only three people were in attendance were the organizers.  Moreover, to avoid snooping, they all went by secret codenames — “McJigglewig,” “Whistlepig,” and “Schlupfiddlejig.”

“We advertised all around campus, by bending leaves of grass that spelled out the encrypted message in binary. The key was written in base 6 in a snow pile, but it melted really quickly. Which was great! It made it even more private,” Whistlepig confided in readme, on the condition of anonymity.

For full disclosure, the codenames listed here aren’t even their real codenames: they’re actually three or four levels of aliases deep. readme couldn’t quite keep track of how many layers of codenames there actually were, but it really doesn’t matter whether the top keeps spinning or not.

At the event, the three participants wore full masks and stood in the corners of the room, facing the walls, all to avoid revealing their identities. Apparently, one even wore stilts, while another was walking on their knees, to conceal their true heights. They typed their communication into a text-to-voice software, and when speaking with readme, they alluded that one of them might have even been Stephen Hawking.

Even the location of the event changed randomly throughout the day. One of the masked individuals would write the name of the new room in lemon juice, and then the other two would hold a lit match underneath it to reveal the location. They assured readme that even if the government or malicious hackers found out about this method, there were several other ways to create invisible ink, so no worries.

Keynote speaker Ed Felten, an official privacy person from the United States government, said the event was pretty good. “At first I couldn’t find where I was supposed to be, which was great! I love it when privacy is upheld. And when I called up my buddies at the NSA, they were stumped for a little, too! But then they noticed the bent grass and the holes poked in the snowbank on their satellite images, and the game was up. I just followed my nose to the burnt lemon juice.”

McJigglewig… or was it Schlupfiddlejig? The one in the swan mask. Whomever it was, an organizer said they were planning on holding the event again next year. “We’ll just have to leave the invitations somewhere where even the government can’t follow,” they said, eyeing the labyrinth of Wean-Doherty meaningfully.

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