A group of anti-NSA pranksters have planted recording devices in public places across New York, saying that they are “gathering information to help win the war on terror.”
The devices can be found
everywhere in New York – in cafes, under benches, in shops,
restaurants and bars.
“Eavesdropping on the population has revealed many saying,
‘I’m not doing anything wrong so who cares if the NSA tracks what
I say and do?’” the group, dubbed “We Are Always
Listening,”wrote on its website.
According to anti-NSA activists, the citizens “don’t seem to
mind this monitoring.”
“[So] we’re hiding recorders in public places in hopes of
gathering information to help win the war on terror. We’ve
started with NYC as a pilot program, but hope to roll the
initiative out all across The Homeland.”
The pranksters say they are “declassifying excerpts from the
recordings and highlighting” where some devices are located
“for greater transparency.” Each recording on the
website has the location, terrorism status and device status.
The recordings are rather mundane and reveal everything from
cheating to conversations with personal coaches and job
— Anonymous|Operations (@AnonyCrypt) May
The group says it is listening, “as you cut up friends behind
their backs.” The recording on their website shows
“Asians belittling other Asians for sounding too Asian.”
The group said it is even listening to people’s very intimate
moments, such as when they talk about sexual encounters, or the
moments you “are scheming.” One conversation revealed
deception, and in the terrorism status the activists ironically
wrote: “Plot detected, though not terrorist in nature.”
The recording devices are still in place at Building on Bond in
Brooklyn and Cafe Orlin and Cafe Mogador in Manhattan, according
to the group’s website.
Two representatives of the group told Mashable that they heard
“people discuss their bank accounts, their passwords to those
“Most mundane conversations can reveal sexuality, if you’re
looking for a new job, where you plan to travel, how much money
you make and your patterns of behavior. Those are all of great
interest to organizations like the NSA,” the activists say.
The activists say their organization operates “independently
from the NSA.”
“We don’t go into these establishments and ask permission to
keep them safe. That’s not how the NSA operates. We want to
operate as close to the NSA as possible.”
According to the group, the NSA doesn’t know about its unofficial
counterpart in New York.
“We haven’t had an email or phone call exchange [with the
NSA] yet. Based on the actions that they take, we think they’d
The group hopes eventually ”that the NSA will adopt the We
Are Always Listening project and make it a fully funded and
functional arm of the NSA,” another representative of the
organization told The Guardian.
“We hope that we’re lauded and applauded for helping to keep
the country safe,” the source said. “Even the most
mundane conversations, as the NSA will tell you, are of vital
importance,” he said, adding they don’t release
“anybody’s first and last names”.
He said that if it turns out that it’s illegal, “we’ll put a
full stop to it. We’ll continue to keep the country safe from
terror until then.”
The group’s representative told the paper that “We Are Always
Listening” also has plans to start the surveillance of
people in Germany, just like the real NSA.