As a protest to what they say is unlawful government surveillance, a varied group of special-interest groups launched a 135-foot-long surveillance airship over a vast National Security Agency Utah supercomputer center.
The airship was employed to induce alertness to the potentially unconstitutional access the NSA has to largely trace or record communication logs from innocent people lacking warrant or probable cause.
Parker Higgins, an Electronic Frontier Foundation activist, who assisted in organizing the airship spectacle, tweeted an eagle-eye sight of the facilities, with the add-on message: “The evil lima bean where NSA hoards humanity’s secrets. Just shot this from an airship above.”
The thermal airship, a property owned by environmentalist organization Greenpeace, had a banner written, “NSA Illegal Spying Below.”
As an organization which has been the target of government scrutiny in the past, Greenpeace is aware of the frightening consequences that NSA’s programs may have on our democracy.
The data center is located near Salt Lake City. It is seven times larger than the Pentagon.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Nextgov photography and videography on the site is foreboded, but the air space is not restricted.
A link to StandAgainst Spying.org is also displayed on Greenpeace’s message. It is a newly made website that grades US lawmakers on their action or inaction to restrain NSA surveillance authority. About 20 grassroots groups and internet firms backs this campaign including Reddit, the Libertarian Party and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Rights rise or fall together,” Greenpeace Senior IT Campaigner Gary Cook stated. “Greenpeace has learned firsthand that people cannot protect their right to clean air and water if our civil rights — including the right to free association and the right to be free of unreasonable searches — are stripped away.” He said that the data centers are now being associated with threatening activity.
Rainey Reitman, Electronic Frontier Foundation Activism Director said that, “The public needs to be brought into the Congressional debate around surveillance reform happening right now. We’re flying an airship over the Utah data center, which has come to symbolize the NSA’s collect-it-all approach to surveillance, and demanding an end to the mass spying. It’s time for bold action in defense of our privacy.”
The environment has done a similar protest in the past in shaming Silicon Valley into channelling its data centers with renewable energy. Last April, it has been reported that one side of the airship commended Facebook, Google and Apple for “Building the Green Internet.” Its other side depicted logos of Amazon, Netflix, Pinterest and Twitter and aked, “Who’s Next to Go Green?”
The 65-megawatt NSA site in Bluffdale, Utah, utilizes standard commercial energy sources obtained from Rocky Mountain Power, according to military contract papers and NSA officials.
Greenpeace, Electronic Frontier Foundation and advocacy organization Tenth Amendment Center who sponsored the flyover are all included the report card initiative.
Greenpeace has made legal action against NSA, by a broad coalition of membership and political advocacy organizations, represented by Electronic Frontier Foundation, for allegedly breaching the First Amendment implicit right of association by gathering activists’ call records.