Apr
27

Thank you for not asking

By

This should come as no surprise:

Internet traffic to Wikipedia pages summarizing knowledge about terror groups and their tools plunged nearly 30 percent after revelations of widespread Web monitoring by the U.S. National Security Agency, suggesting that concerns about government snooping are hurting the ordinary pursuit of information.

A forthcoming paper in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal analyzes the fall in traffic, arguing that it provides the most direct evidence to date of a so-called “chilling effect,” or negative impact on legal conduct, from the intelligence practices disclosed by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Author Jonathon Penney, a fellow at the University of Toronto’s interdisciplinary Citizen Lab, examined monthly views of Wikipedia articles on 48 topics identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as subjects that they track on social media, including Al Qaeda, dirty bombs and jihad.

The study should support the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the National Security Agency last year:

At issue is the NSA’s “upstream” surveillance, through which the U.S. government monitors almost all international – and many domestic – text-based communications. The ACLU’s lawsuit, filed in March 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, is brought on behalf of nearly a dozen educational, legal, human rights, and media organizations that collectively engage in hundreds of billions of sensitive Internet communications and have been harmed by NSA surveillance. The district court dismissed the case in October 2015, and we have appealed to the Fourth Circuit.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of Wikimedia Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, the PEN American Center, the Global Fund for Women, The Nation magazine, the Rutherford Institute, and the Washington Office on Latin America. That list is available on Wikipedia, should you dare look.

Of course, if the ACLU really wants the government to listen on protecting citizens’ privacy, it should advise Wayne LaPierre that the NSA could soon be hacking
Air Force drones to peep down into NRA members’ gun safes and count their AR-15s. Watch Congress ask how high to jump.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : National, Privacy

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