Wikipedia to Sue the NSA

Posted: Mar 10, 2015 2:15 PM

The Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that runs the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, filed a lawsuit in Maryland today against the NSA and the U.S. Department of Justice. The suit alleges that the NSA and the DOJ's mass surveillance programs have violated the First and Fourth Amendments. The Wikimedia Foundation is joined by the ACLU and several other plaintiffs in the suit.

From the Wikimedia Blog:

When the 2013 public disclosures about the NSA’s activities revealed the vast scope of their programs, the Wikimedia community was rightfully alarmed. In 2014, the Wikimedia Foundation began conversations with the ACLU about the possibility of filing suit against the NSA and other defendants on behalf of the Foundation, its staff, and its users.

Our case today challenges the NSA’s use of upstream surveillance conducted under the authority of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA). Upstream surveillance taps the internet’s “backbone” to capture communications with “non-U.S. persons.” The FAA authorizes the collection of these communications if they fall into the broad category of “foreign intelligence information” that includes nearly any information that could be construed as relating to national security or foreign affairs. The program casts a vast net, and as a result, captures communications that are not connected to any “target,” or may be entirely domestic. This includes communications by our users and staff.

While past cases against the NSA have been dismissed due to lack of standing, the Wikimedia Foundation believes that this will not be the case in their suit, as a slide from a classified NSA presentation used Wikipedia's logo. The foundation believes that this is proof enough that Wikipedia was specifically targeted for surveillance through these programs.

The NSA and DOJ have yet to respond to the lawsuit.