House Dems hail ‘courage’ of Wikipedia NSA lawsuit

A pair of House Democrats is cheering on the Wikimedia Foundation and other groups that launched a new legal challenge against the National Security Agency.

Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Portland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father MORE (D-Mich.) and Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry MORE (D-Texas) “have long been troubled that these programs appear to sidestep the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” they said in a joint statement on Tuesday, after the foundation behind Wikipedia filed its suit alongside a handful of other organizations.

“We applaud the courage of the litigants in this case, and look forward to their day in court,” the lawmakers added.

The groups are challenging the NSA’s collection of vast amounts of Internet users’ data by tapping into the “backbone” of fiber cables and connection switches that make up the global Internet. Along with the Wikimedia Foundation, the NSA is being sued by eight groups, including The Nation magazine, Amnesty International and the PEN American Center. They are all being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

The NSA’s work to vacuum up information about Internet users has aroused some opposition from Congress but has largely been overshadowed by ongoing work to end its bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Conyers, who is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has been a leading figure in that fight and helped to draft the USA Freedom Act during the last session of Congress, which would have forced the NSA to get people’s records from their phone company only after obtaining a court order.

That effort is still ongoing and faces a critical deadline of June 1. 

“That is the necessary first step in a long struggle to roll back the power of the surveillance state and restore our civil liberties,” he and Lee said on Tuesday.

“This case represents the next fight.”