Activists take to the skies in NSA spying protest

activists take skies nsa spying protest blimp
If you visited the NSA’s sprawling data center in Utah on Friday you’ll have noticed a huge blimp circling the area emblazoned with an “Illegal Spying Below” message. Greenpeace, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) were the activist groups behind the stunt, which aimed to keep the spotlight on the National Security Agency’s extensive surveillance and data collection operations.

The 135-foot blimp was also advertising a new protest website, StandAgainstSpying.org, launched through a collaboration of over 20 grassroots advocacy groups and Internet firms. The site holds Congress members accountable for what they have (or haven’t) done in the ongoing debate over the NSA’s operations. Last week, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to block funding for some of the NSA’s activities.

“The public needs to be brought into the Congressional debate around surveillance reform happening right now,” EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said in a press statement. “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.”

In response to requests for more openness, the NSA released its first ever Transparency Report on the same day that the blimp was in the air. The report lists the number of targets affected by some of the NSA’s data collecting operations, though as the term “target” can refer to “an individual person, a group, or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power” the information isn’t particularly revealing.

For example, in 2013 the NSA issued 131 orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s tap and trace provisions, involving 319 targets. It also issued 19,212 national security letters and 38,832 requests for information from companies such as Google and Apple, though again exact details are not available in the interests of “protecting sensitive classified intelligence and national security information.”

Despite its vagueness, the fact that the report exists at all could be seen as a step in the right direction. As scrutiny and reform of the NSA continues, the German government is planning to switch its telecoms provider in response to some of the surveillance operations that have come to light in the post-Snowden era. The Agency is also involved in several legal battles over data protection, including one with the EFF.


Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

Tired of paying? Here are 4 ways to use Microsoft Office for free

Many of us need to use Office apps from time to time -- but we may not want or need to pay for a constant subscription. Fortunately, there are ways to get those services without paying. Here's how to get Microsoft Office for free.

Apple Maps boosts Flyover locations, indoor mall maps, and more

In a boost for Apple Maps, the tech company has recently added more than 50 new locations for Flyover, the feature that offers spectacular 3D photo views of particular cities and famous landmarks around the world.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.

Miss AIM? These are the best desktop chat clients to use today

Desktop chat clients are far from dead. In fact, they're currently enjoying something of a renaissance. So, which one should you be using? We take a peek at the best chat clients for teams, gamers and mainstream web surfers.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Google has found a clever way to make your search history more useful

Google has found a clever way to make more use of your search history by showing links to pages you've visited before. Ideal for repeat searches for the same page, the links show up on cards at the top of mobile search results.
Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.

Shutdown makes dozens of .gov websites insecure due to expired TLS certificates

The US government shutdown is causing trouble in internet security. As the shutdown enters day 22, dozens of government websites have been rendered insecure or inaccessible due to expired transport layer security (TLS) certificates.