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Silicon Valley wonders who is behind mystery NSA billboard

September 30, 2013|By Chris O'Brien
  • Silicon Valley is wondering who put this billboard up along highway 101 in south San Francisco.
Silicon Valley is wondering who put this billboard up along highway 101… (Jef Pearlman )

As if Silicon Valley's relationship to the whole National Security Agency spying-on-the-Internet thing wasn't awkward enough. 

Now someone has placed a slogan on a billboard over Highway 101 near South San Francisco that reads: "Your data should belong to the NSA."

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Guessing the identity of the organization or person behind the sign has become one of Silicon Valley's favorite parlor games in recent days. 

Of course, it's possible that despite creepy, Big Brother-ish overtones, that it's the NSA itself just trying to get some good marketing. 

Others have wondered, could it be the work of Michael Arrington, erstwhile blogger-turned-venture-capitalist-turned conscience of Silicon Valley? Arrington has been on a one-man crusade to shame valley companies that have been assisting NSA efforts.

As Arrington recently said on his blog: "I'm scared of our government and I'm disgusted by what little Silicon Valley has done to fight it."

Or could it be the mysterious Billboard Liberation Front, the guerrilla urban art pranksters known for altering signs around the Bay Area to feature subversive slogans? These were the folks who climbed up another billboard on Highway 101 in San Francisco back in 2001 to mock the dot-com bust by altering a Fortune Magazine ad featuring Jeff Bezos. 

They changed the text from "In the land of the blind ..." to "In the land of the dead ..." and put pennies over Bezos' eyes (a gesture made to those who are dead.)

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A spokesman for BLF, however, said it was not his group's handiwork. He points out that, hey, been there, done that with this San Francisco billboard in 2008:

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So, who do you think is behind it? 

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