Privacy activists troll the U.S. government with fake Patriot Act fear-mongering

Beware! The demonic hordes are coming.

With major provisions of the surveillance-authorizing USA Patriot Act set to expire at midnight on Monday, anonymous government officials are using the New York Times to fear-monger about the impact expiration could have on national security. Privacy activists who want the provisions to expire, meanwhile, have launched a counteroffensive on Twitter.

#IfThePatriotActExpires appears to be the brainchild of activist Benjamin Marlin, who was the first person to use the hashtag early Thursday morning.

The phrase has since been picked up by civil-liberties groups mocking the government’s desperate push for extended spy powers.

So, what will happen #IfThePatriotActExpires, according to Twitter? Well, in the absence of the three specific provisions that are expiring—Section 215, the “roving wiretap” authority, and the “lone wolf” authority—the United States could face any of the following threats…

Demonic hordes from another dimension

Monsters beyond our understanding

Evildoers straight out of Hollywood

Out-of-control animals

Communism

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1776, Part Two

Canada

Radical Islam

Planetary cataclysm

Alien invasion

As for what will actually happen if the Patriot Act provisions expire—well, it’s probably less than you think.

Photo via Leandro Ucciferri/Twitter

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.