The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia, is filling a lawsuit against the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging the government's mass surveillance program. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s mass surveillance program, and specifically its large-scale search and seizure of internet communications — frequently referred to as "upstream" surveillance.
"Our aim in filing this suit is to end this mass surveillance program in order to protect the rights of our users around the world. We are joined by eight other organizations and represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)," said Michelle Paulson, Senior Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation.
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.
The 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.
Wikimedia's legal respresentatives believe that the NSA’s current practices "far exceed the already broad authority granted by the U.S. Congress through the FAA,", and that these practices violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and association, and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.