San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Wednesday to permit Wikimedia and other groups to continue their lawsuit against the NSA over illegal Internet surveillance. A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Wikimedia v. NSA would follow the lead of the Ninth Circuit, which allowed EFF’s Jewel v. NSA to go forward despite years of stalling attempts by the government.
In Wikimedia, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represents nine plaintiffs, including human rights organizations, members of the media, and the Wikimedia Foundation. A federal district judge in Maryland dismissed the case last fall, ruling that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue. In EFF’s long-running challenge to NSA spying, Jewel, a separate appeals court rightly rejected a similar argument in 2011, and the case is ongoing in federal court. In fact, last Friday, after eight years of litigation in Jewel, a judge authorized EFF to conduct discovery—meaning, for the first time, EFF can begin to compel the government to produce evidence related to the NSA’s surveillance of the nation’s fiber optic Internet backbone.
“We’re well past the point where the government can simply utter ‘national security’ and get these cases dismissed at their outset,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mark Rumold. “We battled back these arguments in Jewel, and now we are asking another appeals court to do the same thing in Wikimedia.”
In the amicus brief filed Wednesday, EFF urges the Fourth Circuit to recognize standing for allegations of harm based on actual past and ongoing surveillance, like those alleged in both Wikimedia and Jewel.
“Jewel, and our recent order allowing us to move forward with discovery, is all the evidence the Fourth Circuit needs to know that cases challenging NSA surveillance can and should go forward,” said Rumold. “The government makes litigating these cases as difficult as possible, but that difficulty doesn’t mean the courts should turn their back on violations of people’s constitutional rights.”
For the full amicus brief:
For more on Wikimedia v. NSA:
For more on Jewel v. NSA: