The Wikimedia Foundation joined Twitter and others to file this amicus brief against the Department of Justice regarding national security requests. Public domain.

The Wikimedia Foundation and others filed this amicus brief in support of Twitter’s case against the Department of Justice regarding national security requests. Public domain.

On Tuesday, the Wikimedia Foundation, along with Automattic, Medium, CloudFlare, Sonic, and Wickr, filed, and the court has accepted, an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief in support of Twitter’s pending lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding national security requests. We invite you to read the full brief.

In October 2014, Twitter filed suit in federal court against the DOJ to establish its right to publish more detailed information about the national security requests the company receives from the government. The DOJ had denied them permission to report the number of national security requests within any useful ranges. The government is insisting on a reporting practice that, in our opinion, is misleading and non-transparent, especially for smaller organizations.

Current permissible reporting standards require organizations to report the number of national security requests in ranges or “bands”. For example, companies can report the number of national security letters (NSLs) received in bands of 1000, such as 0-999, meaning that an organization that received zero NSLs must report in the same band as one that received 999 NSLs. Twitter seeks confirmation that it can report that it received zero national security requests, when applicable.

The Wikimedia Foundation joined this amicus brief because we believe transparency is vital to the Wikimedia movement and that true transparency cannot be achieved without accuracy and completeness. We support any effort that permits more transparency on these kinds of demands, given the significant policy issues of these practices. As the brief underscores:

“This case is about an Internet company’s desire to be open and honest about its role—or lack thereof—in national security investigations in the post-Edward Snowden era. . . . Amici believe that to truly have a government for the people, by the people, we must have an informed citizenry.”



We, along with the co-signers of this brief, hope that the court will hear the case on its merits and provide much-needed clarity on these sensitive topics — and enable all organizations to inform their users on the practices of the government within reasonable ranges of accuracy.

Michelle Paulson, Senior Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation
Geoff Brigham, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation