Reading Time: 4 minutes “Big Brother” is getting even bigger in China. In a development that the author of “1984” would surely have appreciated, China recently passed an “anti-terrorism law” that seems an excuse for a clampdown. It also eerily mirrors calls by US officials for access to encrypted communications.
Reading Time: 9 minutes In honor of Martin Luther King Day, WhoWhatWhy presents — through a fascinating collection of pictures — a brief history of American racism, a look at the kind of hatred, atrocities, and soul-searing humiliation that spurred King into action. Rather than the stuff of dreams, much of it was a living nightmare. We first published this piece in 2015, but it remains more relevant than ever — because we seem to be going backwards. We want you to see, with your own eyes, just how ugly it can get.
Reading Time: 5 minutes The watchdogs tasked with overseeing the federal government are pushing back against a growing defiance from agencies like the FBI. The agencies’ subtle and not-so- subtle obstruction sheds light on why attempts to fix responsibility for “intelligence failures” — like the probe into the lead-up to the Boston Marathon bombing — typically amount to a whole lot of nothing.
Reading Time: 4 minutes The NRA has millions of dollars, and millions of aggressive supporters who knock on doors, hand out fliers, make phone calls, and register voters — while most of their opponents do nothing but tweet and post clever memes on Facebook. In the meantime, an average of one mass shooting occurs in the US every day.
Reading Time: 6 minutes What effect does the awareness of surveillance have on the behavior of people? WhoWhatWhy looked at the available results of research being conducted, and found that we may be reaching the tipping point — when awareness of being watched starts to affect behavior.
Reading Time: 3 minutes In a victory for privacy advocates, a federal judge for the first time fully lifted a gag order associated with a National Security Letter (NSL). The details of the case are complex, but the decision is a powerful affirmation of free speech protections under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Reading Time: 3 minutes The FBI will be developing software to enable its agents to collect fingerprints and pictures of anyone they encounter. This personal material could then be compared to the Bureau’s massive biometrics database. What could possibly go wrong with this?
Reading Time: 5 minutes Is there anything you can still do on your computer without Facebook or Google or the NSA looking over your shoulder?
Reading Time: 5 minutes Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers filed a motion last month requesting a new trial, at a different venue. Media superficially covering the filing glossed over an important defense claim: evidence Tsarnaev’s team says shows at least some of the jurors were exposed to “inflammatory” information on their social media feeds.
Reading Time: 2 minutes If you’re a US worker who has ever taken advantage of work-free weekends, lunch breaks, paid vacation, sick leave, social security benefits, minimum wage, overtime pay, or a 40-hour work week, you can thank the American labor movement. This collection of images shows historic parades, strikes, and tragedies that ultimately made way for significantly better working conditions in the US.