A shadow fell over a National Security Agency data collection facility today in Bluffdale, Utah.
The cause? A 135-foot-long blimp was floating overhead, the words "NSA Illegal Spying Below” printed on its side. To erase any doubt, an arrow pointed down toward the facility.
The stunt was a collaboration between the environmental group Greenpeace, digital rights campaign group Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the constitutional awareness group Tenth Amendment Center.
“The public needs to be brought into the congressional debate around surveillance reform happening right now,” said Rainey Reitman, EFF’s activism director, in a press release.
The Utah data center has “come to symbolize the NSA’s collect-it-all approach to surveillance,” the release said. The blimp is meant to send a message that the American public will no longer stand for it.
The stunt promotes a new website, standagainstspying.org, that was founded by the three human rights groups with the help of about 20 advocacy groups and Internet companies.
The NSA has been the center of a scandal over its data collecting and mining practices ever since former contractor Edward Snowden revealed the illegal activity in June 2013. Since then, the government agency has lied to federal judges, mined photos for facial recognition software, and even spied on the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Internet and telecommunications have fallen into a gray area in terms of privacy rights, but advocates have no doubt that the NSA’s actions are illegal and appalling. Beyond that, the incredibly unethical, unconstitutional program doesn’t even work.
There has been considerable backlash against NSA data collection since last June, but until the entire program is shut down, more action is needed. Raising awareness and collecting signatures is an important step to show Congress that Americans will not stand for this blatant disregard for their privacy.