Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"Wikimedia has plausibly alleged that its communications travel all of the roads that a communication can take, and that the NSA seizes all of the communications along at least one of those roads," the opinion stated. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Wikimedia Scores 'Important Victory' in Fight Against NSA Surveillance

Panel finds that Wikimedia had standing to argue that National Security Agency was violating its First and Fourth Amendment rights

Nadia Prupis

A federal appeals court on Tuesday reversed a previous decision by a lower court that dismissed a challenge to the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance operations, scoring an "important victory for the rule of law."

Tuesday's unanimous decision by the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court means a case against the NSA filed by the Wikimedia Foundation can proceed, after the judges ruled that the plaintiffs had provided enough evidence that the NSA was monitoring their communications as part of its Upstream surveillance program.

"This is an important victory for the rule of law. The NSA has secretly spied on Americans' internet communications for years, but now this surveillance will finally face badly needed scrutiny in our public courts. We look forward to arguing this case on the merits," said Patrick Toomey, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing the plaintiffs.

"Our government shouldn't be searching the private communications of innocent people in bulk, examining the contents of Americans' emails and chats day in and day out. This mass surveillance threatens the foundations of a free internet," Toomey said.

The three-judge panel found that Wikimedia had standing to argue that the NSA was violating its First and Fourth Amendment rights by spying on its communications.

"Wikimedia has plausibly alleged that its communications travel all of the roads that a communication can take, and that the NSA seizes all of the communications along at least one of those roads," the opinion stated.

The panel's ruling overturns an October 2015 decision by the district court, which said the plaintiffs had not adequately proven that their communications were being monitored.

The other plaintiffs are The Nation magazine, Amnesty International USA, PEN America, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Rutherford Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Global Fund for Women, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Their cases will not move forward, due to their smaller online presence, the panel ruled.

Still, the decision signaled an important victory in the fight against government spying, attorneys said.

"This kind of indiscriminate surveillance has grave implications for individual rights, including the freedoms of speech and association," said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which also represented the plaintiffs. "It's gratifying that the appeals court has rejected the government's effort to shield this surveillance from constitutional review."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo