District court grants government's motion to dismiss Wikimedia v. NSA, appeal expected

Translate this post

Wikimedia v. NSA lawsuit challenged the U.S. National Security Agency’s use of “Upstream” mass surveillance. Photo by orangesparrow, freely licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Today, a federal district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss Wikimedia v. NSA, our lawsuit challenging the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) use of “Upstream” mass surveillance.
With the help of the ACLU, we filed this lawsuit along with eight other plaintiffs in order to safeguard the rights of the Wikimedia Foundation, our staff, and Wikimedia community members around the world. We continue to feel that the NSA’s mass surveillance poses a serious threat to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. These rights are essential. Wikimedia users cannot create, collaborate, and share information if they fear being watched.
Unfortunately, the court did not actually rule on whether the NSA’s upstream surveillance is legal or illegal. Judge T.S. Ellis III, the presiding judge, dismissed the case on standing grounds. The court held that our complaint did not plausibly allege that the NSA was monitoring our or other plaintiffs’ communications. Additionally, the court referenced the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International, although, in our opinion, the facts before the court were dramatically different from the ones that were before the Supreme Court in Amnesty.
Spread the word about inappropriate surveillance. Art by Rich Black, CC BY 3.0.
Spread the word about inappropriate surveillance. Art by Rich Black, CC BY 3.0.
We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision to dismiss. There is no question that Upstream surveillance captures the communications of both the user community and the Wikimedia Foundation itself. We believe that our claims have merit. In consultation with our lawyers at the ACLU, we will review the decision and expect to appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
We would like to thank our skilled and dedicated pro bono counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Cooley, LLP for their dedication and hard work on behalf of the Wikimedia movement. We look forward to the expected appeal, and to having the substance of our claims heard. More information is available from the ACLU, including today’s ruling.
Michelle Paulson, Legal Director*
Geoff Brigham, General Counsel
*Special thanks to all who supported us during and in preparation for this hearing, including Patrick Toomey (ACLU), Jameel Jaffer (ACLU), Alex Abdo (ACLU), Ashley Gorski (ACLU), Aarti Reddy (Cooley), and the Wikimedia Foundation’s Aeryn Palmer, Jim Buatti, Victoria Baranetsky, and Zhou Zhou.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

Can you help us translate this article?

In order for this article to reach as many people as possible we would like your help. Can you translate this article to get the message out?

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] Agency (NSA)’s Upstream mass surveillance practices. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, III, dismissed the case last October; we filed our appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this […]

[…] the lawsuit itself continues to move forward. Following the dismissal of our claims by Judge T.S. Ellis, III on October 23, 2015, we filed an appeal in the Fourth […]

[…] October 23, 2015, Judge T.S. Ellis, III, ruled that the Wikimedia Foundation and our co-plaintiffs lack standing to bring this challenge. […]

[…] The Wikimedia Foundation’s (WMF) legal case against the US National Security Agency has been dismissed. The WMF’s legal team wrote in a blog post that they “respectfully disagree with the […]

[…] an opening brief with the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Last fall, Judge T.S. Ellis, III, granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case after hearing oral arguments in the U.S. District […]

[…] October 2015, the lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds at the district court level following a hearing before Judge T.S. Ellis, III, […]