Study: NSA Surveillance Has Chilling Effort on Internet Browsing

Users Feared Reading About 'Sensitive' Topics

A new study in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal found that traffic on Wikipedia articles considered “sensitive” or terror-related plummeted drastically in the immediate wake of revelations about broad NSA surveillance of Internet use.

This is the latest data to suggest NSA surveillance is having a chilling effect on the behavior of average individuals, who are increasingly afraid of reading about perfectly legal topics because they believe it might make them a target of the government.

The research is seen particularly likely to aid an ACLU lawsuit by Wikipedia against the NSA and Justice Department, showing that the nonprofit was indeed harmed by the American government’s increasingly aggressive surveillance schemes.

A study last month from Wayne State University had similarly provided evidence that Americans are increasingly unwilling to express “controversial” views online if they believe those views are likely to be seen by the government.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.