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article imageWikipedia filing lawsuit to NSA challenging mass surveillance

By James Walker     Mar 10, 2015 in Technology
Wikipedia is to take legal action against the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice that will challenge the government's program of mass surveillance of Internet traffic and suggest that this undermines democracy.
Wikipedia and eight other organisations filing the lawsuit will be represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. It represents another major technology company protesting against the US government's apparent censorship of the Internet, considered by many to be a free public space.
The group will argue that the NSA's mass surveillance of U.S. Internet traffic violates the first amendment of the US constitution, designed to protect freedom of speech and association. The company also believe that the monitoring violates the fourth amendment to the US constitution which states that there should be no unreasonable search of seizure of the public.
The NSA's censorship program, known by many as "Upstream" surveillance, captures communications with "non-US" persons to gain intelligence on foreigners but Wikipedia believe that this exceeds the authority granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, last amended in 2008.
Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation behind Wikipedia, explained the decision to file a lawsuit against the NSA and US Department of Justice in a blog post. She wrote: "By tapping the backbone of the Internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy. 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."
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales added: "We're 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."
The blog post notes that traffic to the Wikimedia Foundation had been singled out by the NSA for surveillance alongside other sites including Gmail and Facebook. It also reassures that the Foundation takes privacy very seriously, highlighting how you don't need to use your real name or email address to use Wikipedia.
The lawsuit will be filed on Tuesday. Other signatures will include the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA. The NSA and Department of Justice have not yet commented on the news.
More about Wikipedia, Nsa, Mass, Surveillance, US
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