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EFF Project to Uncover Government Surveillance and Privacy Invasions

PRESS RELEASE
September 11, 2006

Two Noted Attorneys Lead New FLAG Project in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched a project to shed light on government surveillance activities. The FLAG Project, based at EFF's new Washington, D.C. office, will use Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade Americans' privacy.

The Freedom of Information Act is a statute that compels the government to disclose details about its activities. EFF's FOIA requests will zero in on collection and use of information about Americans, the increasing cooperation between the government and the private sector, and federal agencies' development and use of new information technologies. The FLAG Project -- for FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government -- is spearheaded by two experienced Freedom of Information specialists: Senior Counsel David Sobel and Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.

"National security and law enforcement demand some level of government secrecy, but too much can enable abuses of power," said Sobel, who will direct EFF's new project. "The NSA's illegal spying program and other recent revelations show that the government has radically expanded its surveillance of ordinary Americans, obtaining untold access to the details of our everyday lives."

"While the government has increased its monitoring of its citizens, it's also stepped up efforts to block public scrutiny," said Hofmann. "The public deserves to know what the government is doing, so that it can keep abuses of power in check and challenge violations of privacy."

In his 25-year career, Sobel has handled numerous cases seeking the disclosure of government documents on privacy policy, including electronic surveillance, encryption controls and airline passenger screening initiatives. He served as co-counsel in the challenge to government secrecy concerning post-September 11 detentions and participated in the submission of a civil liberties amicus brief in the first-ever proceeding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. In 1994, Sobel co-founded the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Hofmann is the former Director of EPIC's Open Government Project, where she was lead counsel in several FOIA lawsuits. Documents made public though her work have been reported by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Fox News, and CNN, among others.

"EFF is thrilled to be working with David and Marcia," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "They have a peerless track record of uncovering and widely publicizing government activities that raise significant privacy and civil liberties issues, and they will enable EFF to have more of a Washington, D.C. presence. We're so happy they have joined our legal team."

EFF will make significant FOIA disclosures available to the public, the media, and policymakers. EFF will also strategically litigate FOIA lawsuits against government agencies to develop precedents that will benefit all FOIA requesters.

To reach the FLAG Project:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 650
Washington, DC 20009
+1 202 797-9009

For more on the FLAG Project:
http://www.eff.org/flag/

Contacts:

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Shari Steele
Executive Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
ssteele@eff.org

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