Wikimedia Foundation signs amicus brief supporting temporary restraining order against revised U.S. travel restrictions

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Photo by Jon Rawlinson, CC BY 2.0.

Update, 30 March 2018: Following further developments in these cases, on March 30, 2018, the Wikimedia Foundation joined over 110 other organizations and companies in signing onto an amicus brief in Trump v. Hawaii as it goes before the Supreme Court of the United States. Like previous briefs we have signed regarding this issue, it explains how these travel restrictions would affect the Foundation and the other signatories, and highlights the positive impact that international travel and exchange have had on operations. Additionally, it identifies legal issues with the way the restrictions were created and may be implemented.


Update, November 22, 2017: In September 2017, the U.S. administration issued a new executive order that supplanted previous attempts to restrict immigration into the United States. With the new order, ongoing litigation challenging the original executive orders became moot, so new lawsuits were filed: International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump in the District of Maryland, and State of Hawaii v. Trump in the District of Hawaii. The Wikimedia Foundation joined over 95 organizations and companies in signing onto a new amicus brief filed in both cases.  Similar to our filings opposing the previous executive orders, the new brief’s argument explains how restrictions on travel would impact the international operations of the Foundation and other signatories. Additionally, it describes legal problems with the order and its implementation. The brief was filed on November 17 in the Fourth Circuit case, and on November 22 in the Ninth Circuit.


Update, April 21, 2017, 5:42pm PST: This afternoon, Judge Derrick K. Watson granted the requested temporary restraining order, preventing nationwide enforcement of the executive order in question. We are happy with the outcome of this hearing, and look forward to future proceedings in which the court may more closely examine the executive order.


Update, April 21, 2017, 2:45pm PST: The Wikimedia Foundation has joined over 160 organizations and companies in signing an amicus brief filed in the appeal of State of Hawaii v. Trump before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief was also filed in an appeal regarding another challenge to this executive order, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Like the brief before the district court, it explains how the Foundation and other signatories’ international operations would be impacted by the executive order, and also outlines the order’s legal infirmities. We will continue to speak up when the international collaboration that is essential to the Wikimedia movement and the pursuit of the Foundation’s work to support the projects is threatened. Special thanks to Mayer Brown for authoring the brief, and to the other signatories for their support and collaboration.


On March 14, 2017, the Wikimedia Foundation joined more than 50 other organizations, including Electronic Arts, Pinterest, and Zendesk, to file an amicus brief in State of Hawaii v. Trump. The brief supports the issuance of a temporary restraining order against a new executive order issued in the United States that imposes restrictions on travel and immigration based on national origin. The brief demonstrates that these restrictions will cause serious harm to the Wikimedia Foundation and signatories’ operations, and explains how the order itself violates fundamental essential constitutional protections.
The Wikimedia vision is a world in which everyone can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. In support of this vision, the Wikimedia Foundation is an inherently global organization. When our ability to collaborate across the world is hindered, our work toward that vision suffers. After an earlier executive order placing restrictions on travel was issued in January of this year, the Wikimedia Foundation joined an amicus filed in State of Washington, et. al. v. Trump. Following the issuance of this latest executive order, that case was dismissed. However, it remains clear that any effort to stifle international travel and collaboration will seriously impact the operations of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are the work of thousands of volunteers who collaborate across cultures, languages, countries, beliefs, and experiences to share free knowledge with the world. Together, they have created the world’s free knowledge resource—available in nearly 300 languages spanning all corners of the globe. Reflecting both this breadth of content, and the global nature of our mission, the Wikimedia Foundation has employees and contractors from all over the globe, and we collaborate with community members, chapters, and affiliate groups in nearly every time zone. Restrictions on international travel will greatly hinder our ability to work together in furtherance of making free knowledge available to everyone, everywhere.
For more information about the importance of travel and collaboration to the Wikimedia Foundation’s operations, please see our February 5, 2017 blog post about the amicus we joined in Washington. Additionally, the January 30 statement by our Executive Director Katherine Maher discusses the Foundation’s philosophy of making free knowledge available across all borders.
The latest restrictions presented in the U.S. executive order are antithetical to the spirit of open collaboration that has allowed the internet and the Wikimedia projects in particular to flourish. We urge the court to grant the restraining order, and provide protection until the order’s legal and constitutional infirmities can be fully examined.
The list of signatories, as of publishing time, follows.

  1. Airbnb, Inc.
  2. AltSchool, PBC
  3. Ampush LLC
  4. Appboy
  5. Appnexus, Inc.
  6. Azavea
  7. CareZone, Inc.
  8. Chegg, Inc.
  9. Cloudera
  10. Color Genomics, Inc.
  11. Copia Institute
  12. DoorDash
  13. Dropbox, Inc.
  14. Electronic Arts
  15. EquityZen Inc.
  16. Evernote Corporation
  17. Flipboard
  18. General Assembly Space, Inc.
  19. Glassdoor, Inc.
  20. Greenhouse Software, Inc.
  21. IDEO
  22. Imgur, Inc.
  23. Indiegogo, Inc.
  24. Kargo Global, Inc.
  25. Kickstarter, PBC
  26. Light
  27. Linden Research, Inc. d/b/a Linden Lab
  28. Lithium Technologies, Inc.
  29. Lyft
  30. Lytro, Inc.
  31. Mapbox, Inc.
  32. Marin Software Incorporated
  33. Meetup, Inc.
  34. Memebox Corporation
  35. MongoDB, Inc.
  36. NetApp, Inc.
  37. Patreon, Inc.
  38. Pinterest, Inc.
  39. Postmates Inc.
  40. Quora, Inc.
  41. RealNetworks, Inc.
  42. RetailMeNot, Inc.
  43. Rocket Lawyer Incorporated
  44. Shutterstock, Inc.
  45. Square, Inc.
  46. Strava, Inc.
  47. SugarCRM
  48. Sunrun, Inc.
  49. TripAdvisor, Inc.
  50. Turo, Inc.
  51. Twilio Inc.
  52. Udacity, Inc.
  53. Upwork
  54. Warby Parker
  55. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
  56. Work & Co
  57. Y Combinator Management, LLC
  58. Zendesk, Inc.

Michelle Paulson, Interim General Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

Special thanks to the law firm Paul, Weiss for drafting the brief, to the other signatories of the brief for their collaboration and support in this matter, and to the Wikimedia Foundation Communications, Legal, Talent and Culture, and Travel teams for their work since the initial order was first issued.

This post has been corrected to note that State of Washington v. Trump has been dismissed.

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

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We know how many wikimedians were unable to get visas to attend Wikimania, especially in DC in 2012 and in London in 2014.This seems a much stronger action than any I know were taken then. Can we have some stats as to the number of wikimedians caught by the Trump ban so we can judge if this action is proportionate when compared to those previous incidents?

How does engaging in the legal public discourse further the goals of your organization? Does the taking of sides compromise your unquestioned moral and ethical demand to insure impartially?