“A conversation becomes impossible.”
March 3, 2014
Using logic that wouldn’t look out of place in Orwell’s Airstrip One, an AT&T executive has taken issue with the now infamous redesign of the NSA’s logo by activists and those protesting against mass government spying.
The watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has, for some time, used a spoof version of the NSA logo (see opposite) on promotional material designed to raise awareness of the group’s actions and campaigns to educate on the activities of the NSA.
The re imagined badge, showing an Eagle with a headset, holding on to cables that plug into a shield branded with the AT&T company logo, was designed years ago, following information released by Whistleblower Mark Klein.
Klein used to work as an engineer at an AT&T facility, where he claims there was an office run directly by the NSA that intercepted all communications coming through the company.
T-shirts and hoodies bearing the spoof badge have long existed, and were even worn by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when he worked for the agency.
EFF has used the design as a means to encourage debate on the issue of the government hijacking of telcoms to conduct surveillance operations.
However, an AT&T exec at last week’s RSA conference in San Francisco took offence to the image, claiming that it has the opposite effect.
The New York Times reported:
Asked about the T-shirts, one AT&T executive, who asked not to be named, said they had a chilling effect.
“There are many of us at AT&T who are disturbed by what we’ve been hearing about the N.S.A.,” this person said. “But when you see that,” he said, pointing to the T-shirts, “a conversation becomes impossible.”
The NSA would most likely agree, given that it has previously attempted to outlaw such imagery. The agency even went as far as sending cease and desist letters to the website Zazzle after activist Dan McCall created several t-shirts on the site that featured parodies of the NSA’s logo.
The NSA claimed that “misusing” the logo constituted copyright infringement.
The AT&T exec should take note that McCall filed a lawsuit against the NSA, for violating his First Amendment rights – and he essentially won, given that the agency reversed its stance and now claims it no longer has an issue with parody items.
“The agencies’ attempts to forbid McCall from displaying and selling his merchandise are inconsistent with the First Amendment,” said Paul Alan Levy, the attorney handling the case. “It’s bad enough that these agencies have us under constant surveillance, (but) forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale.”
It is clear that the only “chilling” of discussion that is taking place, is coming directly from the agencies and the companies involved in the government’s mass spying programs, not from the groups and individuals tirelessly campaigning for further transparency.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.
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