nettime's_roving_correspondent on Wed, 13 Jan 1999 09:25:12 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> National Security Threatened By "Furbies"

January 12, 1999

Spy Agency Bans Furbys As Threat

Filed at 11:52 p.m. EST

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- First, they foiled thousands of
weary parents, desperately scouring store shelves to
buy their kids "the" holiday toy.

Now, the five-inch plush gremlin-like creatures are
wanted again, this time by the nation's supersecret spy
agency: Furbys could pose the latest threat to national
security interests.

The National Security Agency has banned the popular
pets from its Fort Meade premises in Maryland. In an
internal message to workers, the NSA issued a warning
about the toy, which is embedded with a computer chip
that allows it to utters 200 words -- 100 in English
and 100 in "Furbish."

"Personally owned photographic, video and audio
recording equipment are prohibited items. This includes
toys, such as 'Furbys,' with built-in recorders that
repeat the audio with synthesized sound to mimic the
original signal," the Furby Alert read, according to
Wednesday's editions of The Washington Post.

"We are prohibited from introducing these items into
NSA spaces. Those who have should contact their Staff
Security Office for guidance." The Furby resembles an
owl, with tufts of hair between its huge pink ears.

Because of its ability to repeat some of what it hears,
NSA officials were worried "that people would take
them home and they'd start talking classified," one
Capitol Hill source told the Post.
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