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Wikipedia Sues NSA Over Its Illegal Online Spying and Data Harvesting

21st Century Wire says…

Because of Edward Snowden, organizations and individuals are now able to challenge the great ‘Digital Stasi’.

The NSA has been sued by Wikimedia and others, a lawsuit filed in a Maryland federal court on Tuesday. The complaint states that the NSA has been violating U.S. constitution by tapping into fiber optic cables, switches and routers.

Internet pioneer and founder of the invaluable online resource Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is leading the charge and has been publicly vocal in his opposition to the federal government’s fascist programs.

Hopefully, many other lawsuits will follow…

(Wikipedia)

Andrea Peterson

The Switch

The nonprofit behind Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, is suing the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice over a government surveillance program. The suit challenges a program that collects data by tapping into the infrastructure, or backbone, the Web is built on.

“We are asking the court to order an end to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wrote in a New York Times opinion piece about the suit.

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Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales.

The Justice Department spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the complaint. The NSA did not immediately respond a request for comment about the suit.

The suit alleges that the government has been tapping into cables that are part of the Internet’s infrastructure, a practice often called “Upstream” collection, which violates the First and Fourth Amendments, according to a blog post from Wikimedia.

Such programs have been targeted in other lawsuits, including the long-running Jewel v. NSA case, which was originally based on documents from a AT&T technician in San Francisco. Some cases about government surveillance have either been thrown out or stalled after failing to prove they were specifically targeted by the government surveillance programs.

But that may be less of an issue for Wikimedia, which has based its case largely on information disclosed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Some Snowden documents appeared to show that the government is tapping into cables that connect the United States to the rest of the online world. One government slide disclosed by Snowden suggested that Wikipedia and its users were targeted as part of government surveillance programs, the lawsuit alleges.

However, there may be other legal hurdles. Last month, Jewel v. NSA hit a significant roadblock when a federal judge sided with the government’s state secret defense — ruling that the plaintiffs could not win their challenge over NSA tapping of the Internet backbone without disclosing information that would harm national security.

The type and amount of data collected as part of these programs are unclear. But the data could reveal details about people’s browsing history, scaring some from using the Internet freely, privacy advocates have argued.

“By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy,” Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov said in a blog post about the suit. “Wikipedia is 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.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing plaintiffs in Wikimedia v. NSA, a group that includes Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, Global Fund for Women, and The Nation Magazine among others.

Update: This post has been updated with a response from the Justice Department. 

Read more on the NSA and Internet privacy:

NSA slide shows surveillance of undersea cables

Snowden: ‘I would love to go back’ to U.S.

Here’s how the clash between the NSA director and a senior Yahoo executive went down

READ MORE NSA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire NSA Files