The US NSA or the U.S. National Security Agency is being sued by Wikimedia and other groups have challenged the mass surveillance programs which it said intruded upon American rights for privacy and also make individuals less likely to share sensitive information.

The lawsuit has been filed in the very city where the spy agency is based, Maryland.  The lawsuit alleges that NSA is violating the very principles which form the pillars of American democracy, U.S. constitutional protections and the law when it intercepts high-capacity cables, switches and routers which form the backbone of internet traffic through the United States.

The latest case is one more example of a potential legal front by privacy advocates who are questioning the US spying programs since 2013. The American public came to know of the long reach of the state which had transgressed the privacy of every citizen of the country when documents pertaining to the surveillance were released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Numerous lawsuits challenging the bulk collection of telephone metadata are pending in U.S. appeals courts.

The surveillance happens at the “upstream” collection level, the so called backbone of the Internet and away from individual users and the lawsuit takes on this kind of surveillance. Such bulk collection of data violates the constitution’s First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and association as well as the Fourth Amendment, which protects any US citizen from unreasonable search and seizure actions by the state.

The law suit was filed by the following organizations-

  • Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the online encyclopedia Wikipedia
  • The conservative Rutherford Institute
  • Amnesty International USA
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other groups

The plaintiff argued that such mass surveillance programs will directly or indirectly affect the free sharing of information. It could provoke clients, journalists, foreign government officials, victims of human rights abuses and other individuals not to share sensitive information.

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