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Anti-surveillance NSA protest
An anti-surveillance placard at a Berlin march against NSA spyingMarkus Winkler via Flickr / Creative Commons

Wikipedia is planning to sue the NSA

The saviour of lazy students everywhere is taking on the biggest online spying operation in the world

For most students, Wikipedia provides a bounty of sort-of facts to try and patch together the essay you wrote two hours before hand in. Now it seems the online encyclopedia’s has your back when it comes to internet privacy too, after announcing plans to sue the NSA and US Department of Justice.

In the lawsuit, the Wikimedia Foundation claim current NSA practices routinely ignore the limits given by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Congress amended in 2008. Seeing as the only practices Wikipedia routinely ignore are perhaps the rules of the Harvard referencing system, it looks like they have the higher ground on this one.

Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, explained the reasons behind the lawsuit in a blog post uploaded to the site: “Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users' privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to people's ability to create and understand knowledge."

"By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy."

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has also warned of the dangers posed to the site's contributors from NSA surveillance. “Volunteers should be able to do their work without having to worry that the United States government is monitoring what they read and write,” wrote Wales in a New York Times op-ed piece. “Many of them prefer to work anonymously, especially those who work on controversial issues or who live in countries with repressive governments.”

Wikipedia's lawsuit also claims the NSA routinely violates the First, and Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. Those are the ones that protect freedom and speech, as well as unreasonable search and seizure. If my time in education has taught me one thing, it’s that if Wikipedia says it, then it must be true.