AT&T Exec Claims EFF's Mocking NSA Logo Creates A 'Chilling Effect'

from the and-if-anyone-knows-about-chilling-effects... dept

For quite some time, the good folks at EFF have offered awesome NSA Spying Hoodies with their brilliantly re-imagined NSA logo:
You might notice the AT&T logo in the middle there. That's not there just for show. Many years before the world knew of Ed Snowden, an AT&T technician by the name of Mark Klein literally walked in the front door of the EFF's old offices, and revealed how the NSA was installing hardware directly on AT&T's premises to tap directly into the internet backbone, in order to collect basically all internet traffic.

This is the same hoodie that Snowden himself used to wear around the NSA office in Hawaii where he worked (his coworkers thought he was being ironic). Either way, the logo is pretty well known by now.

Not surprisingly, last week during the RSA conference, plenty of folks thought it would be an appropriate venue to wear the hoodie (or similar t-shirts). And guess who took offense? According to the NY Times, an anonymous AT&T exec claimed such a logo created a "chilling effect" on discussion:
Around San Francisco this week, some were seen sporting Electronic Frontier Foundation T-shirts featuring a retooled N.S.A. logo with an eagle using its talons to plug into the American telecom network, symbolized by AT&T. 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.”
I don't think that cowardly exec knows what a "chilling effect" really means. I'd argue that secretly giving the NSA full access to the internet backbone, to collect whatever data they want is what creates a real chilling effect. Opening up pretty much just about everyone to intrusive and excessive surveillance by a secretive government agency? That's a chilling effect. Having someone wearing a t-shirt or hoodie that makes fun of your company for allowing such surveillance? No, that's not a chilling effect. It's the opposite. It's called exercising their right to expression.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: chilling effect, eff, nsa, parody
Companies: at&t


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Mar 2014 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    There are courts to appeal to if one has the will.
    The letters are powerful, but not all powerful.

    It was cheaper to go along, than to stand up for the customers, their rights, or the rule of law.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.