Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against NSA Because Wikimedia Can’t Prove They Are Being Watched

Last Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Wikimedia against the National Security Agency regarding policies of surveillance.

In a 30 page ruling in favor of the NSA, United States District Judge T.S. Ellis III said that Wikimedia and its associated plaintiffs had no legal standing since there was no way to prove that they were being watched by the National Security Agency.

The decision falls in line with a previous Supreme Court decision from 2013, in the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International.

According to Judge Ellis III, there was no way to undoubtedly confirm that the National Security Agency was watching Wikimedia.

Most people know Wikimedia for being the publisher of Wikipedia, which is one of the most popular websites on the internet. Wikipedia is a comprehensive online encyclopedia that anyone can update.

Judge Ellis III wrote in his memorandum opinion:

“The Plaintiffs’ argument is unpersuasive, as the statistical analysis on which the argument rests is incomplete and riddled with assumptions. For one thing, plaintiffs insist that Wikipedia’s over one trillion annual Internet communications is significant in volume. But plaintiffs provide no context for assessing the significance of this figure. One trillion is plainly a large number, but size is always relative. For example, one trillion dollars are of enormous value, whereas one trillion grains of sand are but a small patch of beach….

As already discussed, although plaintiffs have alleged facts that plausibly establish that the NSA uses Upstream surveillance at some number of chokepoints, they have not alleged facts that plausibly establish that the NSA is using Upstream surveillance to copy all or substantially all communications passing through those chokepoints. In this regard, plaintiffs can only speculate, which Clapper forecloses as a basis for standing.”

Ever since the Snowden revelations in June of 2013, it has been difficult for legal challenges filed against government surveillance agencies to advance in court.

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