Wikimedia Foundation will sue the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, in a legal confrontation against the government’s mass surveillance program.
The nonprofit organization that controls free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, will file a lawsuit on Tuesday. Wikimedia Foundation argues that the NSA’s program of mass surveillance of Internet traffic in the United States, which is called Upstream surveillance, violates the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendment.
The organization believes that the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and association, and the Fourth Amendment, which assures cover against unreasonable search and seizure, are violated by NSA and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The NSA surveillance plan intercepts communications with “non-U.S. persons” as a mean of capturing foreign intelligence information.
According to Lila Tretikov, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the NSA “is staining the backbone of democracy” by “tapping the backbone of the internet”. Tretikov added in a blog post on the Wikimedia website that the NSA is violating the users’ privacy and also threatening the intellectual freedom on which Wikipedia was founded.
The blog post also said that the current practices of the NSA are exceeding the authority it was granted by the 2008 amendment on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also spoke in critical terms of the NSA surveillance program. “We are asking the court to order an end to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic,” he wrote in an opinion article in the New York Times.
Wikipedia will not be alone in it’s legal action. Eight other organization are also filing the lawsuit, among them are Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch. They will be represented in court by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The NSA and the Department of Justice are challenged in court by major U.S. technology companies, which are affected by the mass surveillance programs. The NSA is also fighting a complaint from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Some of the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks revealed that the NSA targeted the online encyclopedia. Wikipedia thinks that the foundation and its users were harmed by this surveillance, while adding that it has a standing reason to file a suit. Most previous cases of this kind, like the one filed by Amnesty International, were dismissed for lack of a direct connection.
Image Source: Students For Liberty