A lawsuit brought against the NSA by Wikimedia and eight other plaintiffs has been dismissed by a federal judge. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the case on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation alleging that the NSA had engaged in mass surveillance of Wikipedia users.
Joined by the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA, Wikimedia complained about the NSA's upstream surveillance as revealed by Edward Snowden. The ACLU suggested that the sheer volume of traffic Wikipedia receives means that the US government's surveillance must have included spying on the activities of Wikipedia users. Judge T.S. Ellis disagreed, saying that the plaintiffs did not have plausibility - or size - on their side.
In his ruling, Judge Ellis said that the "plaintiffs lack Article III standing to assert their claims" that the NSA was spying on users, violating their First and Fourth Amendments by intercepting, storing, and reviewing online communications. The ruling did nothing to question the legality of the NSA's "upstream surveillance" (tapping into internet backbone cables), but says that the complainants were not able to prove that they had been spied on.
He suggested that the plaintiffs' assertion that the likelihood of at least one of its communications in a year is greater than 99.9999999999 percent is "incomplete and riddled with assumptions". He also questioned whether the one trillion pieces of internet traffic the plaintiffs amassed in a year was a significant number: "[is it] just a drop in the bucket of all annual Internet communications[?]".
Writing on the Wikimedia blog, Michelle Paulson and Geoff Brigham, Legal Director and General Counsel, said:
In response to the ruling, ACLU National Security Project Staff Attorney Patrick Toomey said:
The judge ended his ruling by saying:
The Wikimedia Foundation said it expected to appeal the decision.