"Can you hear me now?"
That catchphrase, from the classic Verizon ad campaign of the late-2000s, has been turned against the cellular carrier following The Guardian's revelation on Wednesday that Verizon has been handing over all its phone records to the U.S. government for a three-month period.
According to the report, a U.S. court secretly ordered Verizon to give the National Security Agency "location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls" on Verizon's network (but not recordings of the conversations themselves). Such surveillance is legal under the 2001 Patriot Act.
Verizon's assistance, though court-ordered, has lead to loud complaining on Twitter and other social media, to the point where the #NSA hashtag began trending nationwide.
Many found the same undertones in Verizon's retired "Can you hear me now?" slogan, making it the butt of bitter jokes.
I guess we now know whom the Verizon 'Can you hear me now?' Guy was talking to #whoswatchingusnow
— Bohicaman (@bohicaman) June 6, 2013
Didn't know the 'Can You Hear Me Now' slogan wasn't actually an ad campaign but rather a genuine question directed to NSA operators.
— John (@Karaya_One) June 6, 2013
I hear they're going to replace the Verizon pitch guy with Obama to do those "can you hear me now" commercials #nsa
— shawn taylor (@staylormusic) June 6, 2013
Another trend? Mad microbloggers threatening to cancel their Verizon plans. But subscribers to other telecoms shouldn't exactly feel smug. Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter and columnist who broke the NSA story, wrote that it is likely other major U.S. telecoms have been cooperating with the federal authorities, too.