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'Cards Against Humanity' Creator Threatens To Buy & Publish Congress Members' Internet Histories

By Stephen Gossett in News on Mar 30, 2017 3:41PM

Getty Images / Photo: Mark Wilson

The GOP renewed its semi-regular mission to kill the Internet on Tuesday, when the House of Representatives voted along party lines to severely roll back internet privacy restrictions. The measure—which would allow internet service providers to sell users' browsing histories to advertisers and other parties without their permission—sparked a tsunami of backlash, even within the dark corners of pro-Trump trolldom. But anyone with a fondness for base-level privacy rights was alarmed, including Max Temkin, creator of the Cards Against Humanity card game. So Temkin made an intriguing, noble threat in light of the news: he vowed to give reps a taste of their own, by purchasing and publishing Congress members' browser histories.

Temkin's pledge garnered a flood of support on Twitter and Reddit, which, no surprise, given the galling overreach of the proposed measure. So on Wednesday evening amid so much attention, Temkin posted to clarify where things stand—and urge folks to take action now, and not wait around for the guerrilla campaign, however inspired. He also urged people to be "very skeptical" of fundraising projects that claim to be raising money to but Congress' data, which is a point well taken.

Temkin wrote on Reddit (emphasis his):

"The amount of attention this is getting is honestly starting to scare me. I know that voting this up is funny, and easy, and feels good. But even if we get this data, it's a symbolic victory at best. Our basic human rights, like the right to privacy, are being sold to the highest bidder while the best minds of our generation are here on Reddit asking pro gamers if they want to fight a horse-sized duck or whatever. Real, material change requires sacrifice. You probably can't do it on a computer. If you're frustrated with the way things are going, the incompetence and corruption of government, and the money in politics, we need to support institutions like the [Electronic Frontier Foundation] and we need to be heard by elected officials. I really like the tool If 100 Redditors called a congressman, it would freak them out and their staff would have to do something about it. It really doesn't take much."

Cards Against Humanity matched up to $10,000 in donations made to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights non-profit, on Wednesday. They also followed Chance's lead and matched donations to Chicago Public Schools.

Temkin's call is vintage Cards Against Humanity, equal parts clever pranksterism (see the company's Dada-ist Super Bowl potato ad, their campaign to dig a hole in the ground) and motivated political concern (sending gallons of lube to the Oregon militia, donating large sums toward open government). Here's hoping it spurs the intended poetic justice—and actual justice.