Research Blog


I have had mostly good experiences with peer review in the terms of giving it. I can normally point out technical errors pretty easily. I try to limit my opinion on content and methods of portrayal because I believe that everyone has a specific voice and although I may not say something as they would it doesn’t make it wrong. It’s a matter of stylistic or one can even call it artistic effect.

However few people in my opinion have been able to give me good feedback on my work. This could be effected by the fact that I am a pretty stubborn and independent person. I may be having a hard time listening to advice that is given to me.
I admit there are a few occasions I can think of throughout my school career where I have rushed through a peer edit as the author describes, using vague comments, finding basic errors, and focusing more on intro and end in comparison to the middle.
The most impressionable peer edit I have ever experienced was with an opinion essay for a english class. The girl who edited my paper went a little over board in my mind. Instead of focusing on tactics of persuasion, spelling errors, and structural basis, she completely tore apart my essay. By the end of it she had practically changed my words to formulate her own opinion. After seeing that I ended up throwing out the revision and just rereading and editing myself. Another time I can think of would be an essay that I was editing. This was memorable because when I tell you I had three fixes to every sentence I am not exaggerating. The person I was editing off of clearly did not take the time to thoroughly think through what they were writing. I was almost embarrassed for them when I returned there marked up paper. In my opinion a peer edit shouldn’t come after your first draft but maybe a second or third because you don’t want to waste the persons time on something that you could have easily picked out.
For me the biggest challenge as a giver of feedback is making sure to find positive things within their work. I know that it is an important aspect of the writing critique but for me when I am editing my brain is focused on the negative, so sometimes it takes me longer to pick out positives. As a receiver my biggest problem would be openness to suggestion. I sometimes tend to think in terms of my way or the highway even if the advice is sound advice.

Glossary of Key Terms

Privacy: the ability to be free from interruption and monitorring of any others.

NSA: National Security Agency defend the nation against terrorist threats all the way to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Edward Snowden: former CIA agent who has uncovered and sent out incriminating data on how the NSA has been abusing its power.

Mass Surveillance: undescriminated and complete monitorring of a large group of people without their awareness or consent.

WikiLeaks: Funded in 2006 by Julian Assange. It is an international non-profit organization that publishes secret information to the public and news leaks.

CIA: Central Intelligance Agency was put in place to investigate foriegn threats.

Encryption: this is the process of converting content into code, so as to keep outside parties from being able to read or get a hold of the information.

Signal: This is an encrypted app created to keep any kind of surveillance from the two parties conversations, however this fact has been proven mute seeing as the government agencies have full capability to retreive this data.

Behavioral Tracking: This is a technology used by many advertising companies in adjuncture with social media sites in order to monitor your likes dislikes and searches which creates an in depth profile of you.

Collusion: Is a technology designed to show you how many site are tracking your online activity on a daily bases.

First Amendment: In relation to this topic the important part of this amendment is the freedom of speech.

Fourth Amendment: The right we have against unreasonable searches and seizures of our property without a warrant.

1984: book written by George Orwell. It sets the stage for a world in continuous war, un precidented mass suveillance, and public manipulation. This fictional tale shows the some disturbing truths about how our world could transform if privacy is taken away from us.

The Digital Person: book written by Daniel J Solove on how electronic databases are constantly compiling information on you. It also talks about the transformation of privacy and how it does and will affect our daily lives.

GAMA: The hacking team is a software for sale to governments that provides the capability to hack into persons of interest technology devices such as phone and laptop without being the subject being aware

FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation works to protect the US from domestic threats.

Patriot Act: is an Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. It was created in reaction to the 9/11 attacks and created the NSA groups that have conducted the mass surveillance in recent days.

Freedom Act: This law restored and modified some of the patriot act which recently expired.

PRISM Program:  is a massive surveillance program run by the United States National Security Agency. The program uses data mining efforts to collect info and analyze patterns of terrorist or other potential criminal activity. However it was found that more innocent bystanders information was looked through than actual targets.

Boundless Informant: this is a program used by the US NSA to analyze and collect megadata from all around the world.

Research Blog #8

The Truth About the WikiLeaks CIA Cache

WikiLeaks released a large amount of information on March 7, 2017. They stated that the CIA has the software to hack into apps that we previously assumed were safe. The apps mentioned specifically were Signal and WhatsApp. However, in closer looks at the documents this proves to be slightly misleading. In the uncovered documents it never lists these apps by name or the specific ability to bypass such encrypted tools.

WikiLeaks is not a completely trustworthy source because some of their claims have come from misinterpretation of the documents in haste to out them to the public. Another critique for this group is that it doesn’t take into consideration material that may be dangerous for the public to know.

This article was written by Zeynep Tufekci on March 9, 2017. The basis of the article was on the new information released by WikiLeaks on the CIA’s ability to hack into our communication networks. It was written for the purpose of exposing and analyzing closely the information that has been uncovered. This brings me to question whether WikiLeaks is more of a threat than a help in these types of situations. This is also why it is interesting because it comes across the point that there are reasons for certain things to be kept secret in order to keep individuals safe.


State of Surveillance

This is a documentary made in 2016 and takes place in Russia. The host is Shane Smith from VICE and his guest is Edward Snowden. It mentions San Bernadino which involved the government struggling to get access to the terrorists phone and then resorted to hacking into it.

San Bernadino was the incident that gave proof to the boundaries the government is willing to overstep in the name of “safety”. Snowden claims that they have been capable of this for some time now. Snowden also performs in the video a dissection of the modern cell phone. During this he shows exactly how the government can hack into your own personal phone.

Drones are also now being used on home soil, recently for civilian protests. The main argument is that these uses of technology are a breach on our constitutional right and must be stopped.

research blog 7

Think Your Email is Private? Think Again

This source is different because its main focus is not on the problem of how privacy is being lost, but on a solution. The speaker focuses on email as a way to take back some privacy. In his terms he thinks that the whole world must band together to create a new form of email so that those sending out the data has control over who can access it. My question for this would be whether the companies that make email would allow this to happen because they survive on this data to feed us adds. An interesting view point the speaker brought up is the comparison of an email as a post card that anyone can look at before it actually reaches the intended recipient. He then gives a very detailed but watered down version of what he and his colleagues have created as a method to keep our emails private. For me reading over this I already get confused so the questions that this brings to mind are the errors or unseen disadvantages this may cause. One line I did really like that the speaker said was “privacy doesnt have to be difficult or disruptive.” He then brings up an even bigger question about how his program can continue without funding from advertisements. He stated that so far voluntary funding from his users has been able to let him succeed and grow.


Tracking Our Online Trackers

Something that surprised me was that young generations today spend about 8 hours online a day. This source has less focus on government surveillance and focuses on how companies and organizations can use behavioral tracking. Can we be condemned in the court of law by the data these industries collect? What laws today protect us against this (if any)?

The speaker also talks about a new technology called collusion. This technology tracks the websites or databases that are tracking your online activity. In one day the speaker showed how over 150 websites almost all had no consent from him and many were not even sites that he had visited. $39 billion dollars are the top revenues for industries who use this tactic. This author focuses on how the businesses have started to track us and our habits with and without our permission and knowledge. He uses collusion as his main source and solution to show people how much we are being watched and a method in which we can control it.

Research Blog 6

Source #1: Privacy, Morality, and the Law

The authors main focus is on what exactly privacy consists of and what it means in the world. He then delves into his claim on the value of privacy or at least what it should be. He uses the analysis of three separate older definitions of privacy to address their flaws. He also uses Freud’s claim of intimacy as an opposing view on intimacy. His claim is that intimacy is does not come from full disclosure but more so in sharing your true self with all your flaws and weaknesses. Another main claim in this article is the author’s definition of privacy, “Privacy is the condition of not having undocumented personal knowledge about one possessed by others.” This shows me an argument that comes around a time where this controversy was in its baby stages. People were just now realizing that there were more capabilities to unearth information about each other and this brought up the question of when to draw the line. W. A. Parent is the author of this piece which was published in 1983 by Wiley. This was published as an exploration of privacy and was sparked by the start of government access into citizens lives.

Source #2: NSA Surveillance Divides the Republican Party

The faction of republicans under George W Bush is pushing for the continuation of mass surveillance. The opposing side thinks that this is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. The author is Conor Friedersdorf and this was written in response to the new debate that explores the legitimacy of the NSA and its tactics as constitutional methods of protection against terrorists. RNC has declared domestic spying illegal. The resolution calls for a blatant take down of the NSA. The resolution states “It declares NSA spying unconstitutional, insisting that it violates both the First and Fourth Amendments.” This shows me both sides within my own political party and also emphasizes how the 9/11 attack played a major role in the acceptance of mass surveillance.

Source #3: In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

The authors of this article are Barton Gellman, Julie Tate, and Ashkan Soltani. It was posted on July 5th 2014. This was written in response to Snowden’s dramatic uncoveries of the inner actions of NSA. Ordinary internet users are being intercepted through the NSA networkers and it outnumbers the amount of actual targets being monitored. This fact has been brought up because of the fact that “Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post” Edward Snowden is a huge player in my inquiry because his shared discoveries have opened up many peoples eyes to this new and growing issue of privacy through online activity and technology.

These new sources provide more background on my overall question, but don’t change it. Edward Snowden has proven to be a very large source for many of my articles making him a key contributer to the publics knowledge on the conflict at hand.

Why Should We Even Care If the Government Is Collecting Our Data?

This article was written by Rebecca J Rosen on June 11, 2013. This analyzes the argument of legal scholar Daniel J Solove in his book “The Digital Person.” She has two main arguments in her article. The first is“Kafka, not Orwell, can help us understand the problems of digitized mass surveillance.” Then she also creates her stance saying that the problem with mass surveillance doesn’t come from invasion of privacy, but more so from the power we are allowing our government to have over us. Solove dives into whether the problem with mass surveillance roots from the inhibition and social control (Orwell) or how the individual is denied control over how their data is used (Kafka). Other claims made by the author are that the argument many people use (“this is a violation of our privacy”) doesn’t seem to move people against the topic of mass surveillance. She also states that many people especially the average law abiding citizen doesn’t take many steps to keep such information secret. Her examples come from the 3 books she pulls arguments from; 1984 (George Orwell), The Trial (Franz Kafka), and The Digital Person (Daniel Solove).

TEDTalks: Christopher Soghoian—Government surveillance — this is just the beginning

Authoritarian governments in other countries are buying surveliance capabilities to allow the governments to hack into individuals computer.

Most governments don’t have the in house capabilities for this surveillance so they buy it from western companies.
It can’t be proven that the US has bought these types of capabilities but there is an FBI team made specifically to hack into phones and laptops without the user knowing.
When the government of Egypt fell 2011 activists raided police building and found documents on GAMA. This is a surveillance
The hacking team is a software for sale to governments that provides the capability to hack into persons of interest technology devices such as phone and laptop without being the subject being aware. It is being used to target Moroccan journalists.
The argument is that the public needs to be aware of this new technology. There needs to be open and informed debates in order to control the threat against our freedoms. This could easily lead to abuse in power without close monitoring. If governments can hack into the bad guys devices then what is stopping them from doing it to us?

Research Blog 3

The first source I found through the library website is Privacy Online (Perspectives on Privacy and Self-Disclosure in the Social Web). This was edited in 2011 by Sabine Trepte and Leonard Reinecke, both of which are Professors in the Psychology department in the University of Hamburg (Germany). The publisher is Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. This publisher is a branch of a larger company called Springer Science and Business Media.

This book has many references each listed after every chapter. They used many researchers and other sources to back their claims and theories. This brings up many questions on whether social media should be more private or should they just be more open about what they are monitoring? I thought it was surprising that these media sites use our information as a form of currency. They trade their information on us with companies who use it to target potential customers.

The second source I found was an article called “From Facebook to Mug Shot: How the Dearth of Social Networking Privacy Rights Revolutionized Online Government Surveillance.” It was also written in 2011 by Junichi P. Semitsu who works for the University of San Diego School of Law. I think one interesting fact that this article brings up is the fact that Federal Courts have yet to amend the Fourth Amendment to cover the world wide web. This brings to mind the question, how can the fourth amendment be changed to provide more guidelines for citizens right to privacy. This article focuses mainly on the online social media outlet Facebook.

This makes me want to modify my guiding question to “How can we modify our constitution in order to include coverage of our privacy within the online world?” Using the library website it has helped me realize the plus side to using academic articles and books because many of them have sources of their own which I can use for my own benefit.


With my own research methods, I realized that the questions for entering the conversations are used in my planning of writing a persuasive piece. Another thing that I do that the article mentions is “considering the possible counterarguments to the claims writers make and the views that call your own ideas into question.” I try to do this because not only do I find that it keeps me interested in the topic but also that it prepares me for my own argument. It’s just like how an athlete in a game or a player in a chess match would anticipate another’s move in order to make their own. When a player is able to do this with ease this is a sign that they have become skilled or well versed in the material.

Reading as a search for information is mainly just a regurgitation of information, where as reading as inquiry you analyze deeper. As the article says you must “make judgments about which of the voices encountered can be used productively in conversation.” So the absence of critical thinking is what differentiates merely searching for facts with inquiry reading.

In other projects besides this inquiry I realize that I am extremely bias. I take my time to find only the facts that support my predisposed side while ignoring potential counterarguments. Another thing I need to be more cautious of is repetition. In many previous research projects, I have mainly been voicing the views of my sources with little to none of my own opinions. Many teachers prefer this but in my mind I am not really engaging in the material when I am merely stating another’s view point.

Framing is a way to point the conversation in a certain direction. Many problems in the real world have infinite reasons or causes behind them so instead of just stating an issue, you must create a structured plan on how to analyze. For example, when it comes to the US economy one can frame the question to how has the presidency affected this or how has international companies, or even how has the natural progression had influence on what will come next. These are all ways to look at one problem none right or wrong. This can help you steer the conversation into a certain field and sometimes can create subconscious feelings within the reader. News headlines use framing every minute. If you take the wording of CNN headlines in comparison with FOX news headlines on the day of Trump’s inauguration. We can see that they are using conotated words to create either animosity or appeal of their audiences toward a certain topic.

Research Blog 2

N.S.A. Collection of Bulk Call Data Is Ruled Illegal

-What does the Patriot Act specifically allow?

-Which of our rights are being violated?

-Congress has yet to make a decision about the fate of this program

-France is pushing for more domestic spying

-The House of Representatives is formulating a bill that will limit the Patriot Acts reaches and keep it from violating US citizens rights.

-How will the USA Freedom Act fix the problems with the program while allowing the NSA to still do their jobs?

-Some argue that the USA Freedom Act is extremely detrimental to the NSA processes and that it will be nearly impossible to find valuable information on potential threats to the country.

-NSA keeps phone records going back 5 years

-This program was started under President George W Bush in reaction to the 9/11 attack.

-Is bulk data collection constitutional, regardless of any laws made?


The federal appeals court ruled NSA’s bulk phone record collection as illegal. This helps congress’s decision; whether to replace or extend the program without modification.