Wikipedia Sues NSA Over Mass Surveillance Programs

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The Wikimedia Foundation declared, on Tuesday, that it is filing a claim against the Department of Justice and the National Security Agency over the mass spying of internet activity. The philanthropic association behind Wikipedia is joined by eight other associations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, in the lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union will speak to the case before the administration.

“We are filing suit today on behalf of our readers and editors everywhere. Surveillance erodes the original promise of the internet – an open space for collaboration and experimentation, and a place free from fear. If people look over their shoulders before searching, pause before contributing to controversial articles, or refrain from sharing verifiable but unpopular information, Wikimedia and the world are poorer for it,” states Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales.

The claim seems to concentrate on “upstream” observation, rather than phone records and versatile metadata accumulation and capture. Upstream observation; which happens when the NSA specifically wiretaps internet framework, for example undersea cables, which was authoritatively approved in the corrections to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in 2008. This all happened very quickly in the years following Sept. 11, 2001, under an NSA system called ‘STELLARWIND.’

By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy. Wikipedia was founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users’ privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to people’s ability to create and understand knowledge,” Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

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Image Source: Google Image – A reporter’s laptop shows the Wikipedia ‘blacked out’ opening page in Brussels. The blackout was scheduled for Wednesday to protest against proposed legislation on online piracy that has failed to get the support of the biggest internet players.

Such reconnaissance is approved for “non-US citizens,” however, the ACLU and others have contended that the loopholes in clauses of the law permit the NSA to overlook that stipulation. In 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s reveal of mass observation programs such as PRISM, MUSCULAR and others intended to tap internet sites and telecom organizations, demonstrated that more Americans were under mass surveillance and more warrantless wiretapping than before.

Standing is an important legal concept that requires a party to show that they’ve suffered some kind of harm in order to file a lawsuit,” from a published report by the US Supreme Court in the case of Amnesty v/s Clapper, since the parties in this case were found to lack standing.

As per Wikimedia and the ACLU, the government’s reconnaissance practices abuse the first and fourth amendments of free discourse and security against irrational inquiry and seizure. The two additionally expressed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves such reconnaissance and sanctions mystery government warrants, is infringing upon Article III of the US Constitution — as the role of the courts is to determine cases or debates, not to issue consultative conclusions or decipher hypothetical circumstances.

Referring to a slide from the Snowden leaks in 2013 that uncovered the NSA’s focus on Wikipedia and its clients, which incorporated Wikipedia’s trademark; the association said that it had more than sufficient evidence to fight this case.

The case is liable to face the same obstacles that others have who tried to fight against the NSA and DOJ. Primarily, the offended parties must demonstrate that the administration effectively focused on individual people and that, with such focus, they disregarded their rights (non-Americans do not have rights under these surveillance programs). Moreover, the government will probably contend, as it has in the past, that Wikimedia cannot demonstrate that any person(s) were explicitly focused on by the government’s reconnaissance program(s).

In the course of recent years, the people that make Wikipedia have composed more than 34 million articles in 288 different languages. All of this information is accessed regularly by a large portion of individuals from every nation on this planet; the Wikipedia Group has stated, “WE FILE TODAY ON THEIR BEHALF.”


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7 COMMENTS

  1. A great article I haven’t seen anywhere else so far. What is not clear to me is if the government claims they haven’t targeted any specific Americans, how is it that they can eavesdrop on a corporation and get away with it? Anyone care to answer?

    • i have educated myself on the matter and i find that: they (NSA) needs a court order to spy on people. which includes, check their mail, go into their computers, let a drone follow their every move, get into your private messaging and what not. however there is a small catch, if they ask a court order the succes rate is 100% since it goes through an automatic procces. they can spy, track however they deem a threat to the us goverment. the NSA is not a national security agency, but a government security agency or a national survailance agency. oh yeah and its funded by american tax payers. however i suggest you further educate on the matter, search on youtube, laura poitras, edward snowden, jacob applebaum, citizen four. this will give you a nice starting point on your education on the matter. have fun.

  2. Mass surveillance is not justified whatsoever. Will you let anybody see your every move, who you talk to, what books you read, your daily routine, all organizations you belong to, all your contact doctors/family, teachers/acquaintances/interests/politics and all aspects of your life uncovered? Do you know what kind of society we live in now? Are you that aware or are you just fearful now? Stop this illegal and unconstitutional mass surveillance!

  3. Way to go Wikipedia! Very proud! Talk about looking over shoulders, sad to see all those looking back. As I recall, education is mandatory from k-12, (or legal quitting age) severely punishable by truant agencies.Why the intrusion? Why the problem when we further our own educational skills. Or were we taught wrong? Why fear mass education and unity, it’s inevitable.it’s one thing the whole world will agree on, unite, and fight for, is the wonders of the world wide web. So please, continue.

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