[Wikimedia-l] PRISM

Theo10011 de10011 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 10 14:39:42 UTC 2013

On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 7:31 PM, John Vandenberg <jayvdb at gmail.com> wrote:

> Or DeCSS, or AACS, ..
> Or 2012 Benghazi attack, Efforts to impeach Barack Obama, Drone
> attacks in Pakistan, ..
> Or PRISM (surveillance program), Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, ..
> It would be good *if* the WMF can provide assurances to editors that
> they havent received any national security letters or other 'trawling'
> requests from any U.S. agency.
> If the WMF has received zero such requests, can the WMF say that?
> There wouldn't be any gag order.

You mean like Yahoo, Facebook, Google and Microsoft did at this program's
first disclosure[1]. They all denied it for the record. They also have long
running campaigns about security, protecting user data and privacy. After
Obama and the NSA chief admitted to it, everyone started re-examining the
language of their denial and found loopholes and similarities between
carefully worded responses which were written and revised by a team of
lawyers. There isn't any personal data (more than IP addresses etc.) on
Wikipedia to compromise.

As a user, I would actually be more concerned if WMF put out a similar
response along with the big guys. It would be analogous to walking in a
police station and yelling "I wasn't involved in that......." - when no one
actually knows or suspects anything.

On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 6:59 PM, Fred Bauder <fredbaud at fairpoint.net> wrote:

> They tap directly into the internet backbone. Only if there is some
> particular matter which interests them which they would need our help to
> decipher would they contact the Foundation. There are a few things out
> there that I can imagine them being interested in, but very few. For
> example, there are small groups of people in the United States that
> support The Shining Path or the Naxalites. Active steps to open a
> military front in the United States would probably kick them into gear
> and they might be interested in who edited our articles on these subjects
> as advocates for that tendency.

Actually, it's still not clear the methodology they use - there are
theories about lockboxes, about a beam splitter at Tier 1 service
providers, or running a shadow copy from the service provider lines, or
combination of those, or something else entirely. The original slide did
mention upstream and downstream surveillance methods as some news stories
pointed out.

I have no possible way to extract who is a supporter of a cause, based on
what article they edit or what they read. There can be some form of POV
pushers but again there is nothing that would require this level of
circumvention to use a secret government surveillance program to discern.
More often than not, I and prob. a large number of editors just fix things,
add something here and there and move on. They don't pay attention to the
political ramifications of editing that article. The amount of false
positive they would get from monitoring something like this would be
several times more than anything resembling a useful and sustained pattern.
Not to mention, this would require human interpretation to discern when
someone supports a cause, pushes POV or just curates an article without any
underlying feeling. Again, all this would be going the long way round to
prove something they can easily get from a user's email, chat logs and
searches- the perception of threat would also be more evident from their
personal communication instead of public editing behavior.



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