Secret government spying on laptops?-Fiction!

The Government is Placing Secret Devices On Consumer Computers to Read What You Type-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

The eRumor says it’s from the “Turner Radio Network” and claims that the author of the email has caught the government and computer manufacturers installing hard-wired keystroke loggers on new laptop computers.
The message includes pictures and descriptions of a device that was found in a laptop.
The email claims that an inquiry to the police resulted in his being referred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
A call to them resulted in his being told to make a request under the Freedom of Information Security Act. That resulted in a letter from Homeland Security saying the information he requested did not have to be revealed and he could appeal by writing to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Some versions of the eRumor say it is Dell that is selling the laptops with loggers on them.

The Truth: is declaring this to be a hoax.
Most hoaxes of this nature have been quickly created with pictures and other resources found on the Internet.
We did some searching and, surely enough, we found the original pictures of both the scanned letter from Homeland Security and the pictures of the alleged laptop keylogging device.

First, there is such a device as a keylogger.  It’s a small piece of equipment that you can attach to your computer keyboard that keeps track of every character you type.  Some people use them as a back-up so they can retrieve what they’ve typed in case of a computer crash.  Others have them on their keyboards so they can tell whether someone else has been using their computer and for what purpose.  There are also companies that have installed keyloggers on various corporate computers for purposes of security.  There are also more controversial uses for keyloggers such as spying on other people and law enforcment is said to use them for that.

One of the products that is sold to the consumer is called KeyGhost and is made in New Zealand.  There is a small, visible version that you simply install between your computer and your keyboard.  There is also a version that looks so much like a normal keyboard cable that you don’t know that it’s there. There is also a version of KeyGhost that is installed inside of desktop keyboards and is not visible.  The information is actually stored in the KeyGhost and you can download it later on any computer.  There is also a version that can send the keylogger information over the Internet to a different location.
The pictures of the keylogger used in the eRumor were taken from an article about keyloggers posted on the KeyGhost website at
The letter from Homeland Security used in the eRumor is a hoax.
You’ll  notice that the letter says it is regarding “File Number 20050112-20050119.”  Those are the file numbers listed on a scan of a letter from Homeland Security to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and it had nothing to do with keylogging.  She was requesting documents about White House security procedures and the Secret Service.  The creator of this hoax found a scan of that letter on the Internet then doctored it with the alleged response about being denied access to his files.
The reference to the “Turner Network” is because one of the versions of the eRumor has been posted on the website of an Internet radio talk show host on the Turner Network.
Updated 10/16/05