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Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, June 23rd, 2013 - 5 comments
Categories: cartoons, feminism, interweb, Spying, us politics - Tags:

My semi-regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: mastery of the internet means mastery of us by the NSA, feminist statistics, some interesting people and popularity lists.


Edward Snowden has revealed a lot, and now has formal US charges (and a request to Hong Kong for arrest) against him. But we can now start delving into how many are being spied on, and how much meta-data reveals about you.  Google gives out data to 89% of government requests, and there were requests on around 65,000 people in the second half of last year – that we know about.  If you’re non-US, they can have the content of all your communication, if a US resident they can still get an awful lot about you.  And how do they know you’re a US resident? They may not, so they may grab everything anyway…

Even with supposedly “anonymised” meta-data you are often fairly quickly identifiable.  And the NSA/GCHQ’s program of Mastering The Internet is really the end of privacy, and mastery of us all.  As Cory Doctrow puts it: “You should care about privacy because privacy isn’t secrecy. I know what you do in the toilet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to close the door when you go in the stall.”


Some see the result of this as Obama being worse than Bush, but as Gary Younge puts it on The Guardian, that somewhat misses the point. They have “different strategies, but the discussion about which is better or worse is sterile precisely because neither is good and neither works. Whatever their declared intentions, both involve the murder of civilians and the creation of enemies, which in turn demand a clandestine security structure that seeks to pre-empt the metastasizing resistance to its policies both at home and abroad.”

In different depressing news, a new study by the WHO shows that 1/3 of women worldwide are victims of partner violence, which it describes as an ‘epidemic’.  The BBC also this week had some interesting stats on women in the workforce – looking at different countries’ gender gaps, childcare and maternity leave.

One can see where the recent tumblr phenomenon of “I need feminism because…” comes from.


To try to finish on a somewhat more positive note, some interesting folks: There’s a beggar in London earning GBP50,000/year – and a Guardian author wondering why the right decry rather than applaud him. He’s a very hard-working self-made man, not paying tax and contributing to society by spending all his wealth locally.

On the other side of the world is the story of Afghanistan’s first female airforce pilot, and the daughter she’s raising in her helicopter.

Finally, next time you click on a most-popular list, consider this.  We often only like things because they’re on those lists…

5 comments on “Sunday Reading”

  1. “mastery of the internet means mastery of us by the NSA”
    … and whoever else has unfettered access to the data.

    As NSA whistleblower Russ Tice pointed out, the NSA is effectively beyond conventional oversight because of its ability to blackmail pretty much any judge or politician who is opposed to its objectives.

  2. Draco T Bastard 3

    Finally, next time you click on a most-popular list, consider this. We often only like things because they’re on those lists…

    That squares nicely with the link I posted a few weeks back about culture and people following cultural norms.

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