Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA

A lawsuit challenging the NSA’s “Upstream” surveillance

The Knight Institute and the ACLU are challenging the lawfulness of the NSA’s so-called “Upstream” surveillance, under which the NSA intercepts American’s international communications at internet chokepoints around the United States and subsequently scans those communications for “selectors” associated with foreign surveillance targets.

The lawsuit argues that the NSA’s Upstream surveillance program is an unprecedented form of surveillance that violates the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, one of the most-trafficked websites on the internet.

In October 2015, a federal district court dismissed the suit, holding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. On May 23, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed in part, holding that the Wikimedia Foundation has standing to challenge the NSA’s Upstream surveillance.

Status: On September 15, 2021, the Fourth Circuit held that Wikimedia's lawsuit must be dismissed to protect state secrets. On October 29, Wikimedia filed a petition for rehearing en banc.

Case Information: Wikimedia Found. v. NSA, No. 1:15-cv-00662-TSE (D. Md.), No. 15-2560 (4th Cir.).

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