February 10, 2014 | By Eva Galperin and April Glaser

Digital Freedom Is an LGBT Issue

Since 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been fighting to make sure when you go online your rights come with you. For the LGBT community, these rights are especially important.

We're Fighting for Your Right to Free Speech

Free Speech is strongly protected in the United States. That means that people in the U.S. are free to talk about queer issues online without fear of government intervention. In places like Russia, however, the government just passed a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors," a law used by the Russian government to limit speech by the LGBT community and silence the gay rights community. EFF fights for freedom of speech all over the world, protecting users from government laws or actions that unlawfully inhibit free expression in our digital communications.

We're Fighting for Your Right to Privacy

Many in the LGBT community grapple with the right to privacy. Whether you're exploring your sexual identity online, seeking support from LGBT peers when there are none available in your community, or keeping your sexual orientation secret from your family, co-workers, or classmates out of fear of bullying or reprisals, protecting your privacy online may be an important part of protecting your physical safety.

EFF is Fighting For Your Right to Freedom from Government Surveillance

Historically, government surveillance has been used to out, blackmail, humiliate, and bully LBGT people. In the 1960’s FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover maintained a notorious 'Sex Deviate' file filled with salacious bits of information on the sexual proclivities of prominent Americans: actors, columnists, activists, members of Congress, and even presidents. Hoover used that information to ensure appropriations for the FBI and expand his political power.  2013 documents reveal that agents used the NSA's out-of-control surveillance apparatus to spy on and track women and that the NSA tracked the porn-viewing habits of “radicalizers” in order to discredit them.

We're Fighting for Your Right to Share and Innovate

Threats to intellectual property often are waged against people that are most vulnerable and without access to expensive legal support. EFF has stood up to trademark bullying. We fought and won a case to protect the rights of gay 'Gaymers'. We have opposed the attacks on access to medicines in international treaties such as ACTA and TPP, which use "anti-counterfeiting" language to limit the production and distribution of generic medicines, including anti-retrovirals critical in the management of HIV/AIDS.

What you can do

This is the first in a series of posts in which EFF will unpack how we fight to uphold basic human rights in light of new and existing technologies that affect minorities and disenfranchised communities in disproportionate and often discriminatory ways. Because technology and communication are central to so many efforts to effect social change, digital freedom should matter to you. In our first piece, we illustrate how the protection of our digital civil liberties is intrinsically connected to the particular needs and rights of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This blog post also exists as a one-pager, which we encourage you to share and distribute widely.


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EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

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