Dan McCall has been making T-shirts and mugs that parody the National Security Agency as “the only part of government that actually listens” for over a decade. In 2011, he got a cease-and-desist letter from the NSA and from the Department of Homeland Security, insisting that his goods be removed from Zazzle.com.
McCall was forced to take his items off Zazzle, although he later re-opened his online shop at CafePress (selling his shirt as “Censored by the NSA!”). Last October—when NSA was already in the spotlight due to disclosures over widespread surveillance—McCall filed a lawsuit saying that his T-shirts and mugs, which were parodies of government agencies, were protected by the First Amendment.
He argued that the agencies had no right to ask them to be removed.
“It’s bad enough that these agencies have us under constant surveillance; forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale,” said Public Citizen’s Paul Levy, who filed the suit on McCall’s behalf.