Great update, thank you.

On Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 4:14 PM, Katherine Maher <>

> Hi all,
> I’d like to share an update and next steps in our lawsuit against the U.S.
> National Security Agency (NSA), Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA.[1] As you’ll
> recall, in March 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation joined eight other
> plaintiffs in filing a suit in United States Federal District Court against
> the NSA[2] and the Department of Justice,[3] among others. We have been
> represented pro bono[4] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)[5] and
> the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.[6] The law
> firm Cooley LLP[7] has also been serving as pro bono co-counsel for the
> Foundation.
> Since we’re coming on the three-year anniversary, I wanted to offer a
> reminder of why we filed this suit. Our challenge supports the foundational
> values of our movement: the right to freedom of expression and access to
> information. Free knowledge requires freedom of inquiry, particularly in
> the case of challenging and unpopular truths. Each day people around the
> world engage with difficult and controversial subjects on Wikipedia and
> other Wikimedia projects. Pervasive mass surveillance brings the threat of
> reprisal, creates a chilling effect, and undermines the freedoms upon which
> our projects and communities are founded. In bringing this suit, we joined
> a tradition of knowledge stewards who have fought to preserve the integrity
> of intellectual inquiry.
> Our lawsuit challenges dragnet surveillance by the NSA, specifically the
> large-scale seizing and searching of Internet communications frequently
> referred to as “Upstream” surveillance.[8] The U.S. government is tapping
> directly into the internet’s “backbone”[9]—the network of high-capacity
> cables, switches, and routers that carry domestic and international
> communications—and seizing and searching virtually all text-based internet
> communications flowing into and out of the United States. It’s this
> backbone that connects the global Wikimedia community to our projects.
> These communications are being seized and searched without any requirement
> that there be suspicion, for example, that the communications have a
> connection to terrorism or national security threats.
> Last May, we reached an important milestone: a Federal Court of Appeals[10]
> in the United States ruled[11] that the Foundation alone had plausibly
> alleged “standing”[12] to proceed with our claims that Upstream mass
> surveillance seizes and searches of the online communications of Wikimedia
> users, contributors and Foundation staff in violation of the U.S.
> Constitution and other laws. The Court of Appeals’ ruling means that we are
> the sole remaining plaintiff among the nine original co-plaintiffs. There
> is still a long road ahead, but this intermediate victory makes this case
> one of the most important vehicles for challenging the legality of this
> particular NSA surveillance practice.
> As a result of our win in the appellate court, we are now proceeding to the
> next stage of the case: discovery.[13] In the U.S. court system, parties
> use the discovery stage to exchange evidence and ask each other questions
> about their claims. We have requested information and documents from the
> government, and they have made similar requests from us. The entire phase,
> which will also involve research and reports from experts, is expected to
> last the next few months.
> As part of our commitment to privacy, I want you to know about what this
> stage of the case means for our data retention practices. Our goal in
> bringing this lawsuit was to protect user information. In this case, like
> other litigation in which we engage, we may sometimes be legally required
> to preserve some information longer than the standard 90-day period in our
> data retention guidelines. These special cases are acknowledged and
> permitted by our privacy and data retention policies.[14]
> As always, however, we remain committed to keeping user data no longer than
> legally necessary. We never publish the exact details of litigation-related
> data retention, as part of our legal strategy to keep personal data safe.
> And we defend any personal data from disclosure to the maximum extent,
> taking both legal and technical measures to do so. We are keeping sensitive
> material encrypted and offline, and we have the support of the experienced
> legal teams at the ACLU and Cooley in ensuring its safety and integrity.
> Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA is currently one of the only freedom of
> expression and access to knowledge cases being prosecuted against
> government surveillance overreach. Unfortunately, the recent extension of
> these surveillance practices by the U.S. Congress[15] demonstrates that the
> courts may well be the only venue to stop or restrict these practices.
> The nature of litigation means that we will not always be able to discuss
> certain details of any case in public. For example, deliberations about
> tactical or strategic decisions will need to remain confidential in order
> to preserve the attorney-client privilege.[16] In such situations,
> particularly in a sensitive and important case like this, we are always
> balancing the need for confidentiality with our commitment to transparency.
> So while some information will not be public, we want to be available to
> address your questions, should you have any. Please direct them to Greg
> Varnum, who can help provide answers.
> We will continue keeping you updated on our progress and anything that
> might affect our communities and visitors to the Wikimedia sites.[17]
> I would like to thank Tilman Bayer, Nuria Ruiz, Faidon Liambotis, Andrew
> Otto, James Alexander, Brandon Black, Byron Bogaert, Dan Foy, Grace
> Gellerman, Aeryn Palmer and Jim Buatti for their extensive dedication to
> this case.  And thanks to the C-levels supporting this work, Eileen
> Hershenov, Victoria Coleman, and Toby Negrin.
> Yours,
> Katherine
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]
> [5]
> [6]
> [7]
> [8]
> [9]
> [10]
> [11]
> [12]
> [13]
> [14]
> [15]
> surveillance/trump-signs-bill-renewing-nsas-internet-surveillance-program-
> [16]
> [17]
> *Previous updates for your review:*
> June 23 2017
> June 16 2017
> May 23 2017
> December 9 2016
> hearing-fourth-circuit/
> October 17 2016
> May 9 2016
> April 11 2016
> February 17 2016
> December 15 2015
> October 23 2015
> September 28 2015
> September 4 2015
> March 10 2015
> --
> Katherine Maher
> Executive Director
> Wikimedia Foundation
> 1 Montgomery Street, Suite 1600
> San Francisco, CA 94104
> +1 (415) 839-6885 ext. 6635
> +1 (415) 712 4873
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Philippe Beaudette
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