The American Civil Liberties Union is imploring people to stand up for their digital privacy this holiday season, and is doing so with a humorous YouTube video that has Santa Claus poking fun at the National Security Agency.
“The NSA is Coming to Town” is the name of the two-minute long ACLU clip, and in it the organization parodies the classic Christmas tune in order to call attention to the United States spy agency’s unchecked surveillance programs — the likes of which have garnered international attention since former contractor Edward Snowden began leaking top-secret government documents earlier this year.
Notwithstanding that opposition, however, efforts by Congress and advocacy groups alike to reign in the NSA have proven to be futile in the six-months since the first Snowden leaks appeared. The ACLU is now circulating a seasonal spoof aimed at the intelligence agency, and is hoping it will help drew viewers to a website where they can petition Congress to abolish the NSA’s surveillance programs.
The YouTube video follows a group of men dressed in Santa Claus costumes around New York City as they incessantly interrupt passersby by reading over their shoulders, sneaking glimpses of their cell phone activity and snapping photos of them walking the city’s streets.
“You better watch out / You better not Skype / You better log out / Yeah you better not type / The NSA is coming to town,” the song begins.
“You're making a list / They're checking it twice / They're
watching almost every electronic device /
The NSA is coming to town,” it continues.
The video goes on to show an army of Surveillance Santa surrounding random people in public and then eavesdropping on whatever it is they’re doing: typing on a phone, working on a laptop or, in one instance, walking into a pornography store.
“You wouldn’t let government agents spy on your special holiday moments in person. Why are we letting them do it in the digital world?” a narrator asks as the video wraps up.
The ACLU wants their audience to navigate to the organization’s website after watching the video in order to add their names to a campaign intended to further tackle the NSA’s surveillance programs. The video itself has been viewed more than a quarter-of-a-million times since being uploaded on December 12, and the “Don't Let the NSA Spy On Your Holiday Moments” website they’ve set up is close to narrowing in on the 50,000 signatures they’re trying to obtain.
— ACLU Action (@ACLU_Action) December 16, 2013
“Right now, there is legislation pending in the House and Senate that would go a long way to stopping the worst of the NSA's excesses,” the ACLU writes. “So we need to turn up the pressure on Congress, which blindly gave the NSA too much spying power in the first place.”
“Sign the petition and let's push Congress to get in gear to end the secret surveillance state now,” the group asks.