Wikipedia head: NSA spying is unconstitutional

Wikipedia head: NSA spying is unconstitutional
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The co-founder of the world’s sixth most popular website thinks that the National Security Agency’s Internet spying is not only illegal but violates core provisions of the Constitution. 

While explaining the rationale behind Wikipedia’s lawsuit against the spy agency on Friday, Jimmy Wales hoped that the legal action would lead to a landmark ruling declaring new limits on government’s spying powers.  

The “minimum acceptable” result of the case, Wales said in a conversation on Reddit, would be to find that the NSA’s massive collection of data on the Internet’s backbone was illegal.

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But his ultimate goal is to set a precedent “[t]hat this type of behavior is not just illegal under current law, but actually unconstitutional."

Wales’s organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, earlier this month joined with a handful of justice and free speech advocacy groups in a major lawsuit against the NSA’s “upstream” surveillance program, which snatches data from the fiber cables and switches on which the Internet is based. 

While a federal privacy watchdog agency last year largely endorsed the program as legal and effective, critics have nonetheless argued that the NSA has too much power to warrantlessly collect communications about Americans and people around the globe. 

“This kind of dragnet surveillance ... constitutes a gross invasion of the privacy of innocent people, and it will inevitably have a chilling effect on the freedoms of speech and inquiry,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer Jameel Jaffer wrote in the Reddit conversation. The ACLU is representing the Wikimedia Foundation and the other parties in the case against the NSA.

The Supreme Court tossed out a similar lawsuit against the NSA’s operations in early 2013, but that decision was based on the determination that the organization suing the agency at the time, Amnesty International, could not prove that it was affected by the searches. Supporters of the new action argue that that won’t be the case for one of the world’s most popular websites, and they also note than one NSA slide leaked by Edward Snowden specifically mentioned Wikipedia.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a similar lawsuit against the NSA’s collection of Internet data, which is ongoing in California.