The Wikimedia Foundation has filed a suit challenging the mass surveillance of the NSA and the US Department of Justice, in a bid it claims will protect its users around the world.
Under the court action the group, whose services attract half a billion visitors a month, will argue that America’s "upstream surveillance", which includes communications between staff and users of Wikimedia projects, violates the US Constitution.
In particular the challenge will revolve around the first and fourth amendments to the country’s founding document, which protect free speech and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
Lila Tretikov, executive director of Wikimedia, said: "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."
As well as attacking the snooping agency on constitutional grounds, the lawsuit will also claim that the NSA’s activity exceeded the authority owed them by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, most recently amended in 2008.
A previous case against the act failed to effect a change because the plaintiffs, which included journalists, lawyers and campaigners, could not show they had been harmed by it.
Writing in the New York Times, Tretikov and Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales claimed that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had identified the free encyclopaedia as a target for snooping.
The pair also said that they would be joined in the lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as "a broad coalition of human rights, civil society, legal, media and information" groups.
"Their work, like ours, requires them to engage in sensitive Internet communications with people outside the United States," Wales and Tretikov wrote.
"That is why we’re asking the court to order an end to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic."
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