Wikipedia Sues NSA To Stop Mass Surveillance Program Used To Spy On Internet Users

Wikipedia wants the NSA to stop spying on American citizens and Internet users around the world because it hampers free speech and the communication of ideas so they've taken the government to court.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on Internet users and violating their first and fourth amendment rights according to a lawsuit brought Tuesday by the Wikimedia Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Wikipedia's parent company, Wikimedia, and the ACLU along with eight other groups are suing the NSA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat "upstream surveillance," Wikipedia announced in a blog post.

The practice of "upstream surveillance" allows the NSA to collect information on anyone who uses the Internet to communicate with foreigners, if it relates to national security.

Wikipedia's vision of sharing the culmination of mankind's knowledge is based on privacy and freedom of expression said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, in a blog post. The right to privacy allows contributors to add to controversial articles or share unpopular information without fear of retaliation.

"Surveillance erodes the original promise of the Internet: an open space for collaboration and experimentation, and a place free from fear."
The Wikipedia lawsuit challenges the NSA's authority to spy on Internet users under the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA), which allows the NSA to collect data on anything relating to national security.

Wikipedia and the ACLU argue the NSA has interpreted the act too broadly and uses it to monitor people with little regard to probable cause, including spying on Wikipedia users and staff said Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation in the blog post.

"By tapping the backbone of the Internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy. Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users' privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to people's ability to create and understand knowledge."
This case is different from one the Supreme Court already dismissed because Wikipedia says the NSA included their trademark during a presentation, according to Time.

The Wikipedia case brings back shadows of Edward Snowden who first blew the whistle on the large-scale domestic surveillance programs by the NSA and triggered the discussion of user's right to privacy on the Internet vs. the need for national security.

The government isn't the only one spying on American citizens, however. Facebook announced this year it would be monitoring the GPS location of its users in an effort to improve its services.

The Amazon Echo, which listens and responds to voice commands, according to an Inquisitr report, also raises privacy concerns, as no one knows when it stops listening to its users.

"This dedicated global community of users is united by their passion for knowledge, their commitment to inquiry, and their dedication to the privacy and expression that makes Wikipedia possible. We file today on their behalf," Wales wrote on the Wikimedia blog.