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Wikimedia vs. NSA: Major Lawsuit Challenges Government Surveillance of US Citizens

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit, on behalf of Wikipedia and other organizations, challenging the constitutionality of the NSA’s mass interception and searching of Americans’ international communications. (Image: Available logos/with overlay)

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and one of the most highly-trafficked websites in the world, announcedTuesday that it—alongside a host of civil liberty advocates, news outlets, and privacy rights organizations—has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency for violating the constitutional rights of its users by performing bulk surveillance and searching, without specific cause or warrant, the international Internet communications of all Americans including emails, web-browsing content, and search-engine queries.

The lawsuit, named as Wikimedia v. NSA, was filed by the ACLU on Tuesday. In addition to the Wikimedia Foundation (of which Wikipedia is a part), the other plaintiffs include: the conservative Rutherford Institute, The Nation magazine, Amnesty International USA, PEN American Center, Human Rights Watch, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Global Fund for Women, and Washington Office on Latin America.

Filed in federal court in Maryland where the NSA is headquartered, the lawsuit (pdf) argues that the NSA is violating the plaintiffs’ privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment and infringing on their First Amendment rights. The complaint also argues that what is called “upstream surveillance”—mass surveillance on all communications that pass through certain “backbone” structures of the network—exceeds the authority granted by Congress under the FISA Amendments Act.

The complaint reads, in part:

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