Wikimedia Foundation Challenging NSA 'Upstream' Surveillance
The Wikimedia Foundation is taking the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice to court, challenging their large-scale surveillance program.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization responsible for bringing you Wikipedia, plans to challenge the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice's surveillance program in court.
Wikimedia Executive Director Lila Tretikov talked about the foundation's reasons for taking action in a blog post:
"By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy.”
The belief of the Wikimedia Foundation is that the NSA's large-scale search and seizure violates the basic rights of U.S. citizens outlined in the Constitution. Particularly, the Fourth Amendment that protects against unreasonable search and seizure, and the First Amendment that protects freedom of speech and association.
Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, also spoke out about the lawsuit in the blog post, saying:
“We’re filing suit today on behalf of our readers and editors everywhere. Surveillance erodes the original promise of the internet: an open space for collaboration and experimentation, and a place free from fear.”
The post goes on to say that the NSA's actions corrupt and endanger Wikipedia's most basic vision: to share knowledge openly amongst its users. But if there's an agent looking over everyone's shoulder, that alone could compromise an editor's or contributor's voice, making them unconsciously or consciously censor themselves.
It may seem far-fetched that citizens of a free, democratic nation would feel the need to hold back on their opinions online, but after the Edward Snowden revelations, MIT researchers noticed a trend in Google search terms. People were less likely to use “search terms that they believed might get them in trouble with the U.S. government” and “that were rated as personally sensitive.”
One of the authors of the paper wrote to VentureBeat, explaining:
“Study after study has [shown] that human behavior changes when we know we’re being watched. Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free.”
To read more about the Wikimedia Foundation's lawsuit, check out its blog post.
Photo Credit: Scott Robinson / Flickr
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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