Those of you who haven’t been living under a rock will no doubt know that online data isn’t exactly secure. The revelations blown open by Edward Snowden shook the world. Governments were spying on user data and were forcing corporations to hand over data. Some were shocked, but not exactly surprised that this was taking place.
Time has passed, but the story has not. The reliability and security of cloud storage has been heavily questioned since, with some users refusing to store any of their data online for fear of it being peeked at by governments.
Recently environmental group Greenpeace, digital rights activists the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and conservative political organisation the Tenth Amendment Centre carried out a stunt to draw attention to their new cause.
The activists flew an eye-catching blimp bearing the words “NSA Illegal Spying Below” over the NSA’s data centre in Utah. They did this to protest against the government’s mass surveillance programmes. The blimp is owned by Greenpeace and is 41 metres long. The flight took place over the course of an hour.
The NSA declined to comment on the stunt, but noted that the airspace over the data centre has no restrictions on it. The data centre is situated on the grounds of the Utah National Guard’s Camp Williams in Bluffdale, 23 miles south of Salt Lake City.
The NSA claims that the facility is used to provide the government with intelligence and warnings about cyber security threats. It is believed to be the largest data centre owned by the agency.
The blimp was launched in order to coincide with the launch of standagainstspying.org. The online campaign rates members of American Congress on the actions that the activists claim either further or stop data collection techniques used by the NSA. Greenpeace state that they created the website by analysing NSA reform bills from Congress and weighting proposals by the degree to which they would end mass data collection.
The website has a detailed page which shows which acts they have considered and the weighting system applied to each. You can also search to find your local representative and see how their stance on the issue weighs up against others. There is also an open letter to President Obama that everyone can sign, no matter where you live.
“As citizens of the Internet, we believe that mass surveillance by the NSA and its global partners infringes on our civil liberties, runs contrary to democratic principles, and chills free expression,” begins the letter. “We’re calling on you to take immediate steps to end the mass spying. Specifically, we urge you to stop the mass collection and retention of telephone records and Internet communications of hundreds of millions of people who are not suspected of a crime.”
“Our right to privacy is not a partisan issue. It's a human rights issue,” said Michael Boldin, founder of Tenth Amendment Centre, which is a group that advocates for a decentralised government.
“This coalition gives great hope for the future because it shows that people across the political spectrum can set aside differences to work together.”
NSA Data Centre Targeted by Greenpeace
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