Reveal date: Jun 28 2016 Status: Complete Partners: Edward Snowden, Roskilde Festival Tagged: Data, Privacy, Snowden, Surveillance

140,000 people came to see some of the biggest musical acts, speakers, and events at Roskilde Festival 2016, not far from Copenhagen, Denmark. But many were dismayed to find posted signs at entrances stating the festival would be collecting and indefinitely storing all text and phone conversations, internet activity, and metadata while on the festival grounds. The signs, designed to look like the festival’s official branding, informed attendees that all digital communications would be collected and shared with “partners”.

These disturbing signs prompted a twitterstorm by visitors angry that their privacy was being so brazenly violated. The online outrage grew, leading various Scandinavian media to call the festival a “shitstorm”. Some attendees vented their frustration in person at a special “listening booth” where a festival employee recorded and secretly filmed their reactions, while gathering even more personal information. Public outrage spread so far that it reached Edward Snowden in Russia, and he responded by coming to the festival in person for an unannounced appearance. Festivalgoers were shocked to meet him, until he revealed that he was not Edward Snowden, he was comedian and Snowden lookalike David Neale. The privacy policy scare was a hoax by the Yes Men in collaboration with the real Snowden and the festival, and the listening station employee was actually Canadian comedian Sean Devlin.


The day after all was revealed, the real Edward Snowden addressed a crowd of thousands live via video. It was the largest audience he’d ever spoken to. By pretending to use a few of the same surveillance tactics commonly employed by many governments, the action highlighted the frightening extent of the surveillance underway in Denmark as well as other European countries, and their collusion with the US National Security Agency.


Watch the video here.


Read some coverage here, and more about the action and Roskilde Festival here.



Active dates:
Jun 2016