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What the world is reading

Google and Facebook were added in 2009, and Apple in 2012.


NSA and the Internet

Stephen Levy begins with writing about the events of June 6, 2013, when a report written by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian shocked Americans with evidence that Verizon had voluntarily handed a database of every call made on its network to the NSA. The information came from Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor. Greenwald was not the only journalist Snowden had approached and Washington Post’s Barton Gellman was also attempting to extend the story to Silicon Valley. “Gellman wanted to expose a top-secret NSA programme called Prism. Snowden’s files indicated that some of the biggest companies on the web had granted the NSA direct access to their servers,” writes Levy. When reporters from the Post began reaching out to the companies, “the tech world found itself ensnared in a fight far bigger than the ones involving oversharing on Facebook or ads on Gmail”. The firms had only hours to respond and none seemed to know about the programme. Nevertheless, the Post published its report that day. It included images leaked from a 41-slide NSA PowerPoint, including one that listed the dates pf when the tech companies began fully cooperating. Microsoft came first, in September 2007, followed the next year by Yahoo. Google and Facebook were added in 2009, and Apple in 2012. The companies quickly issued denials. But that stance was complicated by the fact that they did participate — often unwillingly — in a government programme that required them to share data when a secret court ordered them to do so. “And so their responses were seen less as full-throated denials than mealy-mouthed contrivances”.

 Pacific Standard

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Online harassment

Amanda Hess begins by describing her own personal experience of receiving threats on the Internet. Someone going by the username “headlessfemalepig” had sent her seven tweets and the final one read: “You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you”. Hess quotes a 2005 Pew Research Centre report which stated that “the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women”. She asks how women should react to this kind of harassment. Jim Pagels wrote in Slate that ignoring it may be the easiest way and Hanna Rosin, an editor at Slate, said she saw it as a cause for celebration as it shows how far women have come. “So women who are harassed online are expected to either get over ourselves or feel flattered in response to the threats made against us,” writes Hess. “All of these online offenses are enough to make a woman want to click away. But for many women, steering clear of the Internet isn’t an option,” says Hess. She adds it up by writing, “And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them — all arenas that remain dominated by men”.

 New Philospher Magazine

‘What is a mind?’

“Philosophy,” wrote John Keats, “will clip an Angel’s wings. “But”, contradicts Damon Young, “philosophy is rarely malicious”. The ancient Greek word literally means this: ‘the love of wisdom’. “It is a longing, not just for beautiful ideas, but for faithful ones: ideas that are true in some way”, writes Young. David Hume, in his A Treatise of Human Nature , noted that ideas are a simply faint, vague versions of impressions — “pale cousins of the palpable”. And these ideas, says Hume, have no necessary bonds to truth. Young says there is no such thing as an idea in itself. “Ideas live in minds. And the same idea — or what we call the same idea — is something new in each mind,” he writes. Young then introduces the theory of the mind. “Human consciousness is not about freedom; it’s about delusion as the job of the mind is to protect itself from anxiety, resentment, shock and sadness,” he writes.

First published on: 14-01-2014 at 05:04:42 am
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