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San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a video by acclaimed documentarian Brian Knappenberger (The Internet's Own Boy) that explores how and why an unlikely coalition of advocacy organizations launched an airship over the National Security Agency's Utah data center. The short documentary explains the urgent need to rein in unconstitutional mass surveillance, just as the U.S. Senate has introduced a new version of the USA FREEDOM Act.

The video, Illegal Spying Below, is available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license here:

At dawn on June 27, EFF, Greenpeace, and the Tenth Amendment Center launched an airship above the NSA's $1.2-billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah. The 135-foot-long airship carried a banner bearing a downward arrow and the words, "Illegal Spying Below," to bring attention to the facility as well as, a website showing how members of Congress voted on legislation that would restrict mass surveillance.

"While it is only one of several data centers, for many people the Bluffdale facility has become a symbol out-of-control, unconstitutional, dragnet surveillance, as well as a threat to the environment," Knappenberger says. "I thought it was important to document this audacious attempt to raise awareness of this secretive facility and pressure Congress to rein in the NSA."

The action prompted thousands of people to contact their members of Congress about NSA surveillance. More than 30 articles were written about the airship, and those articles were collectively shared more than 51,000 times over social media within 72 hours.

"This video shows how a common threat to the freedom of association drew our three organizations together, despite very different missions," EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. "Now it's time for Congress to build a diverse coalition to pass meaningful reform. We launched an airship, they need to land a bill on the president's desk."

Viewers are encouraged to use, a site supported by more than 22 organizations, to review their elected representatives' record on surveillance and to send tweets to members of Congress to support meaningful surveillance reform.


Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation

About Brian Knappenberger: 

Brian Knappenberger is a writer, director and producer who has created award winning investigative documentaries and feature films for PBS FRONTLINE/World, National Geographic, Bloomberg Television and the Discovery Channel. His new film about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, The Internet's Own Boy, debuted at Sundance and is available through iTunes at Knappenberger also runs the award winning production company Luminant Media.

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