A brief visit from Big Brother in last year’s Roskilde Festival

Teksti: Francisco Moreno & Andrés Moreno
This sign caused some confusion as to can a festival really monitor the internet-activity of its visitors. Photo: Francisco Moreno.

In 2016, Roskilde Festival in Denmark highlighted the perils of being connected in a 5 day-long performance that included Edward Snowden, of NSA leaks fame. Also, an activist art group annoyed some of the music fans with a prank that claimed all internet activity will be monitored during the festival.

Last year Roskilde festival-goers got to know the new data policy of the festival as they were enjoying the festival. The policy was very brief and only contained two articles:


  • “We reserve the right to collect and indefinitely store all text and phone conversations (received or sent) while on festival ground.
  • While on festival grounds, all internet activity will be monitored. We reserve the right to share this data with our partners.”


Why would Roskilde Festival collect your data if the organizers are well-know for supporting privacy, human rights and freedom of speech? Well, because they actually didn’t. The policy was just a prank from the activist art group ´The Yes Men´. They set up fake signs within the festival with the data policy and hired comedians to “inform” festival-goers and confuse them even more. Some festival-goers did not look like happy campers and reacted loudly against this supposed privacy invasion.

The prank was revealed in a calamitous press conference in which a fake Edward Snowden, with not IT skills at all, was trying to browse through the supposed collected data. And after some laughs, revelations and surprises they connected to a web conference with the real Snowden who talked about digital surveillance. Snowden focused in the importance of the privacy: “You don’t care about privacy because you don’t have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

The whole process has been documented in a short film by The Yes Men.

This was part of the “Equality: Stand Up for Your Rights” program, a theme that underlines the civic aspect of Roskilde Festival until 2018. The theme highlights equality and human rights, and it has focused on issues like digital surveillance, the right to privacy, freedom of speech, and gender equality.

This year the main theme will be cultural equality, including gender and and rights between the sexes. Festival-goers can buy the ”making the difference ticket”, which adds a 200DKK (27 eur) donative on top of the normal price. This money will support Discover Football, a German non-profit organisation that aims to remove gender discrimination at sports, at local and international forums. Even Angela Merkel supports them, and 150,000 more people will know more about them this year in what becomes the second biggest city of Denmark during the festival.

Roskilde Festival just released the full line-up and there are big surprises like The XX, Future Islands, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Atomikylä. They will join the already confirmed bands like Foo Fighters, Slowdive, Arcade Fire and the Tampere-based band Oranssi Pazuzu, but will they announce any activism performance for this year? Will we see Chelsea Manning addressing to the orange crowd, or playing football, now that she is going to be released? We don’t know yet but we will find out soon.

Roskilde Festival: 25.6–1.7.2017