On Friday, a federal judge dismissed an anti-surveillance lawsuit brought by Wikimedia, ruling in favor of the National Security Agency.
In his 30 page ruling, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III found that Wikimedia and the other plaintiffs had no standing, and could not prove that they had been surveilled, largely echoing the previous 2013 Supreme Court decision in the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International.
Judge Elliss found that there is no way to definitively know if Wikimedia, which publishes Wikipedia, one of the largest sites on the Internet, is being watched.
As he wrote in his memorandum opinion:
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.
Since the June 2013 Snowden revelations, by and large, it has been difficult for legal challenges filed against government surveillance to advance in the courts.
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