[Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] PRISM, government surveillance, and Wikimedia: Request for community feedback

MZMcBride z at mzmcbride.com
Sat Jun 15 21:16:09 UTC 2013

Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:
>* Geoff Brigham wrote:
>You are not making a good case there as to what to do and why and how
>this community is affected and needs to act. An immediate question seems
>to be whether the Wikimedia Foundation should become signatory of the
>"Stop Watching Us" open letter. No, the letter puts too much emphasis on
>"people in the United States" and "domestic spying" and the Foundation
>should not give the impression that that is a special kind of bad.
>I can see nothing obvious that the Foundation could say or do in this
>regard at this time, and would expect the community to develop answers
>to questions like mine above before calling for action. So, no, I don't
>think the Foundation should join those other organisations at this time.

I think I mostly agree with what you wrote.

As I commented on the Meta-Wiki talk page,[1] I'd much rather see
Wikimedia Foundation time and energy focused on defining what we stand for
in documents like Sue's recent "Guiding Principles"[2] or the older
"Values" pages.[3][4]

Would most Wikimedians disagree with the type of behavior exhibited by the
U.S. government? I think so. The NSA's actions don't seem to align well
with our values of transparency and openness and user privacy. Does that
mean it's something that we need to formally denounce? No, we should just
keep doing what we're doing. And, as discussed on the Meta-Wiki talk page
and in the blog post, we can work to bolster efforts such as HTTPS support,
which may have a real impact on the underlying issue. These types of
efforts are surely a better use resources rather than signing letters.

Spending limited resources denouncing the latest government abuse (or
potential future abuse) that happens to be in the news (SOPA, PRISM, etc.)
feels faddish ("all of our San Fran neighbors are doing it!") and doesn't
seem particularly mature or productive. I think it's great for the
Wikimedia Foundation to reiterate its values (cf. links 2–4 below) and
work toward creating a world in which we can freely share in the sum of
all human knowledge. Let's do that.


[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:PRISM
[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WFGP
[3] https://www.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values
[4] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values

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