Appeals court decision keeps lawsuit against NSA surveillance alive


A federal appeals court on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision to dismiss Wikimedia’s lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass interception of Americans’ international digital communications.

The lower court had ruled in 2015 that the case, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, The Nation magazine, Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch and other groups, failed to demonstrate that their communications were being monitored by the NSA.

A panel of three judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously disagreed with this on Tuesday, allowing Wikimedia to continue its lawsuit.

{mosads}“This is an important victory for the rule of law. The NSA has secretly spied on Americans’ internet communications for years, but now this surveillance will finally face badly needed scrutiny in our public courts. We look forward to arguing this case on the merits,” said ACLU attorney Patrick Toomey.

“Our government shouldn’t be searching the private communications of innocent people in bulk, examining the contents of Americans’ emails and chats day in and day out. This mass surveillance threatens the foundations of a free internet.”

The suit is over the NSA’s “Upstream” surveillance program, which Wikimedia contends is used to monitor communication on the internet, via the permissions granted to it through the controversial Section 702 statute of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“This kind of indiscriminate surveillance has grave implications for individual rights, including the freedoms of speech and association,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, who are also representing Wikimedia and company. “It’s gratifying that the appeals court has rejected the government’s effort to shield this surveillance from constitutional review.”

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