The mystery of Silicon Valley's NSA billboard was solved Tuesday when San Francisco-based BitTorrent revealed that it was behind the campaign.
The billboard along U.S. 101 read: "Your data should belong to the NSA." The company also placed a billboard in New York City that read: "The Internet should be regulated." And one in Washington, D.C., that read: "Artists need to play by the rules."
In a blog post on Tuesday, the company said it wanted to make a point about people's casual acceptance of the trade-offs between privacy and security.
"We put these billboards up last week in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco," wrote Matt Mason, BitTorrent's vice president of marketing. "Because we wanted to remind the world what’s at stake on the world wide web."
The San Francisco billboard had Bay Area residents speculating about who might have paid for the satiric spot. Rumors had included BitTorrent as a possible candidate, but the company didn't officially confirm it until Tuesday.
The message, of course, happens to sync nicely with BitTorrent's service and general outlook. BitTorrent is a decentralized file-sharing service that swaps bits of pieces of files between users' computers. And the company's bottom line was clear: BitTorrent lets users and artists maintain control over their information rather than big corporations and the government.
Still, the company hoped to sound a larger warning with the campaign.
"This is the generation that will decide whether the Internet is a tool for control, or a platform for innovation and freedom," Mason wrote. "We have an incredible opportunity. We can shape the next one and one hundred years of human connection. A free, open Internet is a force for change, creativity; the backbone of a society where citizens are stakeholders, not data sets."