Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA: An Update
This discussion would be an update to previous talks given at WikiConference North America 2018 and Yale Law School in 2017 concerning the Wikimedia Foundation's lawsuit against the U.S. National Security Agency.
Over four years ago, the Wikimedia Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the NSA's massive, warrantless electronic surveillance practice known as “Upstream.” Upstream surveillance indiscriminately collects internet communications, including communications by Wikimedia users and contributors that could reveal what they are reading and editing.
The presentation will briefly provide background on Upstream surveillance. It will outline the case, its significance, and some of the history of U.S. government surveillance and that of its international partners. It will also discuss the role of the lawsuit in our work against censorship and other government actions that can diminish the use of, and the content on, Wikimedia projects.
Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA is one of the most important ongoing legal case
s challenging US government surveillance, and is currently awaiting a trial court ruling on summary judgment. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Knight First Amendment Institute, and pro bono private counsel are representing us, working closely with the Foundation’s internal Legal, Audiences, Community Engagement, and Tech departments.
The case was originally dismissed by the trial court, but reinstated by the Court of Appeals, which held that Wikimedia alone of the original nine co-plaintiffs likely had “standing” -- that is, made a probable showing that communications of Wikimedians had been collected -- to continue the case. The presentation will detail the elements of the case, discuss why it is key to upholding Wikimedia values, and why there are still challenges ahead. Our goal is not only to inform the Wikimedia community, but to discuss how we can educate the broader public.
This session will address the conference theme — Wikimedia, Free Knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals — in the following manner:
Mass surveillance chills freedom of expression and violates user privacy. The communities should be free to access and contribute to the world's knowledge without the fear of being watched by governments. Combating mass surveillance promotes several of the development goals, most notably peace, justice, and strong institutions. It also has an impact on education and innovation.
At the end of the session, the following will have been achieved:
Attendees would leave with knowledge of U.S. and international government mass surveillance practices. They would understand the current status of the most prominent legal challenges to such practices.
- Jim Buatti, Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation
Affiliation/country (if any)[edit | edit source]
- Wikimedia Foundation / USA
Each Space at Wikimania 2019 will have specific format requests. The program design prioritises submissions which are future-oriented and directly engage the audience. The format of this submission is a:
This is envisioned as a ~20 minute talk with time for question and answers. We could potentially try to adapt to a round table discussion format if there is interest.
The session will work best with these conditions:
A projector would be helpful, to incorporate a powerpoint presentation. Otherwise, it's mainly a matter of having sufficient space for 10-25 attendees.
The session could be attended by 10-25 people. No special skills or prior knowledge would be required.
Ideally the session would not be recorded, because the subject of the talk is ongoing litigation.