Since discussing “5 Funny Ways to Contest Corporate Personhood” earlier this year, a new frightening controversy has come to our attention: the NSA. The secretive program may do its best to fly under the radar while collecting – en masse – personal information from foreigners and U.S. citizens alike, but that hasn’t stopped concerned individuals from finding creative ways to voice their disapproval for this overdone approach to a surveillance state.
Here are five funny ways NSA dissenters have found to express themselves:
1. Adopting a Highway
Restore the Fourth Utah, a local group opposed to the warrantless mass collection of data, found an inventive way of obtaining lawful proximity to the NSA: they adopted the highway adjacent to an NSA building.
Like good adoptive parents, the group will be responsible for regularly cleaning litter from the highway… and they plan on holding signs opposing the NSA while doing so. Additionally, the Utah Department of Transportation will put Restore the Fourth’s name on a sign right near the NSA building. What a clever way to keep an eye on the agency that’s keeping too many eyes on the rest of us, while doing something positive for the community in the process.
2. Prank Calling
Iranian born Bahram Sadeghi decided to give the NSA a call to ask them for help retrieving a lost email. On the call, Sadeghi pretended that he had accidentally deleted an important email and was hoping that the NSA might have a copy of it saved somewhere. Playing dumb, he explained that, given his heritage, he thought there was a heightened chance they’d keep his information on file.
The only things more amusing than the prank call’s premise are the carefully worded responses from the NSA’s staff to the unusual request. You know, it really would be nice if they could at least provide some useful tech assistance with all of the information they’re helping themselves to, but I suppose that would require admitting what they’re doing!
3. Customizing Email Signatures
Benjamin Grosser has created a Gmail add-on that develops phony, incoherent sentences to be included in a user’s email signature. Each signature will contain a number of key words – such as “threat”, “terror”, “plot”, or “hostage” – that the NSA’s XKEYSCORE searches for.
The hope is that if a lot of people use this program, the seemingly (but not really) alarming trigger words will render the program useless by bogging it down with trivial content. Plus, the concluding gibberish might make the friends you communicate with giggle.
4. Creating a Parody Website
Last year, an anonymous webmaster used the existing information he could find on the NSA to create a parody site designed to mimic a government webpage. The traffic to the page was minimal, but once Edward Snowden leaked critical information about the NSA, more people have been curious to see a proper skewering of the agency.
Unintentionally, the site has managed to fool some people into thinking it’s the real deal, due in part to its subtle approach to humor. The site purports the NSA’s motto is “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to hear” and justifies that its actions are constitutional “thanks to top-secret Fourth Amendment exceptions allowed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
5. Holding Signs
Finally, there’s always the old-fashioned approach to humorous protesting: witty signs! Buzzfeed compiled some of its favorites from anti-domestic spying rallies this year and they’re sure to give you a chuckle.