Privacy activists just trolled the NSA with a giant blimp

That's one way to get a message across.

 

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Tech

Published Jun 27, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 1:26 am CDT

The National Security Agency’s $1.5 billion Utah data center had a big unexpected visitor fly overhead this morning.

Members of an alliance of privacy advocates including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Tenth Amendment Center, Greenpeace, and other civil liberty groups floated an airship above the monolithic midwest data storage facility that has become an unassuming symbol of America’s vast surveillance power gone awry.

The evil lima bean where NSA hoards humanity’s secrets. Just shot this from an airship above. pic.twitter.com/lUYowISAE2

— Parker Higgins (@xor) June 27, 2014

The message delivered on the blimp was a simple warning to all observers below and around the world: “NSA Illegal Spying Below.”

Dirigibles for digital rights! We’re flying over the Utah data center to announce our new campaign grading Congress on surveillance reform.

— EFF (@EFF) June 27, 2014

The airship is the kick off to an EFF campaign that will grade Congress on its action (or inaction) when it comes to surveillance reform, a major sticking point for privacy advocates—and, polls show, a majority of Americans—after over a year of little change since Edward Snowden first made headlines.

As the centerpiece to the campaign, the EFF and a coalition of 20 other organizations just launched StandAgainstSpying.org with the ambitious goals of outlawing mass surveilance, reforming the secret FISA court, prohibiting the NSA from placing backdoors into encryption technology, and promoting government transparency overall.

The grades, awarded by the privacy organizations, vary widely: 241 Members (45 percent) of Congress received A grades, 188 members failed, and 77 members were awarded question marks because they’ve taken no action at all.

Best place on earth to watch a sunrise: from an airship over the Utah NSA data center, with a big banner demanding an end to mass spying.

— EFF (@EFF) June 27, 2014

Taking a selfie with @GreenpeaceUSA above the NSA data center in Utah was definitely necessary. More pics soon! pic.twitter.com/A1Q9ZgjAve

— EFF (@EFF) June 27, 2014

So a huge blimp with an anti-surveillance message just flew over the NSA’s new Utah data center (h/t @danstuckey) https://t.co/H4nmUlznAq

— Andrew Panda Blake (@apblake) June 27, 2014

Picture of @EFF dirible over NSA datacenter in Utah (Courtesy: @grant_herron ) pic.twitter.com/42bINfaV0c

— Tinker (@TinkerSec) June 27, 2014

Another view of the blimp flying near the #NSA facility in Bluffdale Utah #utpol pic.twitter.com/51gPHbJv0F

— David Lifferth (@DavidLifferth) June 27, 2014

Photo via EFF

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*First Published: Jun 27, 2014, 12:58 pm CDT