Monday, March 16, 2015

Wikimedia v. NSA

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on March 10 filed a complaint against the National Security Agency (NSA) to challenge its interception of millions of text-based international communications (and likely many domestic ones as well) via fiber-optic cables running throughout the United States.  They claim that the government's actions both go beyond the few limits imposed by the FISA Amendment Acts of 2008 and challenges the constitutionality of the acts themselves because they violate both the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.  The plaintiffs in this complaint include the Wikimedia Foundation, PEN American Center, Amnesty International USA, The Global Fund for Women, Human Rights Watch, The Nation Magazine, the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Rutherford Institute, and the Washington Office on Latin America.  A copy of the complaint can be found on the ACLU's website.  The ACLU filed a previous complaint in 2008 challenging warrantless wire-tapping in Amnesty v. Clapper which was officially dismissed in 2013 prior to Edward Snowden's release of information regarding the NSA surveillance activities.  PEN has claimed that the awareness of the government's surveillance of journalists has led to rampant self-censorship and violates the basic principles of freedom of expression.  I think the fear goes deeper.  For most, it is not the knowledge that the government knows what they are writing or saying that is the problem.  It is the knowledge that there may be severe repercussions for those words.  Freedom of expression is based on the idea that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and to expression that opinion free from fear of prosecution for those beliefs.  Disagreement with the government's actions and policies should not be considered dangerous and anti-patriotic but instead an essential element of a deeper form of patriotism that demands that our nation continue to live up to its founding ideals.  Fear should not be the only dictator of national and international policy.

For more information on Wikimedia v. NSA please see:

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