YACHT, best described as an electronic rock or synth pop group, and Marc Maron, who is known for his “WTF” podcast and is also a guitarist, have recorded a delightfully irreverent protest anthem on total surveillance by the National Security Agency.
This electro-pop dance tune’s lyrics include, “We don’t need no privacy/What do you want that for?/Don’t you think it’ll spoil our fun/If you let that whistle blow?” And it opens with the question, “Did you read my mail again?”
Spying on Americans’ communications is part of the party at the NSA. And, did you know, “There is a rainbow at the end of every P-R-I-S-M,” a nice dig against the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed, which involves Internet companies cooperating with the NSA so the agency can collect and store users’ data.
The song was produced to help fight the kind of surveillance highlighted. A website for the song indicates that any money from downloads will go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and reads:
The National Security Agency is snatching the emails and telephone calls of millions of ordinary Americans from the fiber-optic backbones that carry our most private thoughts across the world. They are doing this with THE the assistance of our nation’s largest phone and Internet companies. Even if you trust these corporations and the NSA–the largest and most obscure of U.S. intelligence organizations–with your private information, the precedent set by this far-reaching and unaccountable domestic spying program is unacceptable. We live much of our lives online; we should be outraged by the extent of the NSA’s domestic spying programs. Instead, we are sinking into a dangerous indifference. Insidious forces are at work. Help us reverse the entropy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a donation-supported nonprofit that fights back against the government to protect our digital rights; 100% of your donation to download “Party at the NSA” will go straight to fund their important work.
Also, if you highlight the entire above paragraph, a redacted message can be seen, “Play the Music Loud and Encrypt Your Secret Thoughts.”
YACHT is one of those bands that understands how to adapt to changes in the music industry and how people consume music by embracing those changes. It has an “official piracy policy” with a quote at the top of its webpage from digital activist Aaron Swartz, who tragically committed suicide earlier this year as he was facing a zealous prosecution from the US Justice Department.
Stealing is wrong. But downloading isn’t stealing. If I shoplift an album from my local record store, no one else can buy it. But when I download a song, no one loses it and another person gets it. There’s no ethical problem. — Aaron Swartz
The “official piracy policy” starts a conversation around when piracy is theft in the information age and encourages fans to support their art but also admits that some piracy benefits artists and lists a few examples.
In this case, the protest anthem is being offered for free with the hope that many who listen will have an interest in supporting the struggle against the surveillance state.
YACHT and Marc Maron are likely to find that quite a few people donate $0.99 to have a copy of the song not only because it is the best dance tune on total surveillance ever produced but also because the tune will go to a group that has a reputation of being pretty effective in defending digital rights and freedom.
It also is refreshing to see distaste for NSA surveillance appearing in American music.