When the U.S. Congress voted to eliminate Internet privacy protections carried over from the Obama Administration on Wednesday, there was a huge backlash from online users. But they found a hero in Max Temkin, co-founder of Cards Against Humanity, the politically incorrect game with a cult following.
Temkin threatened on Twitter to buy and publish the web browsing history of members of Congress if they voted to allow Internet service providers to sell customers' data without asking for permission. He sent the tweet a day before the vote took place:
"I care a lot about people's consumer rights online, but its such a boring issue," Temkin says. "It's so hard to get anyone to care and all of a sudden we made this dumb joke. Now people are interested and they can't get enough of it."
That's no exaggeration. The pledge went to the top of Reddit, causing Temkin to post on the platform, "The amount of attention this is getting is honestly starting to scare me."
"Publishing Congress' information, its kind of a symbolic gesture," Temkin says. "It's funny and feels good and [there's] an aspect of street justice, but its better if we have political power not selling out the rights of every American."
Temkin also tweeted on Wednesday that people were angry with him for not releasing the data yet. He pointed out that the bill hadn't been signed into law by the president and there was no information to purchase. But he encouraged people who were passionate about privacy to donate to the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, and added that Cards Against Humanity would match up to $10,000 on Thursday.
Temkin says his company will probably donate the $10,000 no matter how much is given to EFF. But he's seen many people tweeting about their donations and said EFF saw "a big boost in fundraising last night after this started to shake out."
This isn't the first time Temkin has gotten involved in politics. Earlier this month, he invited people to pay $5 to have a potato sent a Republican Senator Earl Good. The Wisconsin politician had previously sent a "cease and desist" order to a constituent who called the senator's office trying to voice his concerns about political matters. And in February, Temkin sent all 100 U.S. senators a board game called "Secret Hitler." The makers of the game told Polygon that Hitler "required the cooperation of well meaning men who hoped to appease and control the Nazis," and defied what pollsters predicted. They hoped the senators would think about why they may cooperate with Trump's policies.
In the last couple of years, Cards Against Humanity has donated about $4 million to charities, and over $1 million to just internet privacy foundations. Temkin says that becoming a member of Chicago Public Radio was his "first guilt pleasure of having some spending money from the games."