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Podcast Episode: Open Source Beats Authoritarianism

EFF's international team advocates for privacy, free speech, and an open Internet in international venues and across the world. We expose mass and unwarranted surveillance, and educate unlawfully targeted users on how to protect themselves and their colleagues. We use individual cases globally to highlight the effect of technology on human rights, and defend technologists from persecution and detention wherever they live.

Ensuring users' voices are heard in global policymaking

Internet users are impacted not only by rules and policies made in their own country, but those made around the world. EFF's international team fights to make sure that Internet users are heard in these processes. They include copyright treaties developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), trade agreements such as the now-defeated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), domain name policies developed by ICANN, and increasingly, a shadowy web of cross-border industry agreements forged in corporate backrooms.

Where international bodies lack an adequate rights-based framework for their deliberations, EFF also works to fill the gap by developing global principles such as the Manila Principles for Intermediary Liability and the Necessary and Proportionate principles. We use these to promote users' rights on the global stage in bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Fighting unchecked surveillance laws and norms

We fight laws and treaties that seek to legitimize mass surveillance and weaken civil liberties and transparency. We work to spotlight privacy violations throughout the world and defend against influential governments seeking to increase law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ power. EFF fends off proposals for mandatory data retention, wiretapping-friendly legislation, national identity schemes, biometrics initiatives, and invasive location tracking. EFF works with digital rights organizations around the globe to fight for privacy, and  pressure telecommunications companies to protect the privacy of their customers.

Exposing Institutional Censorship

EFF recognizes that much of today’s free expression takes place on corporate platforms, which apply their own rules and are subject to the legal requirements of different jurisdictions. While in recent years most major companies have produced transparency reports that show content takedowns made at the behest of government actors, there is little to no transparency regarding takedowns made on the basis of terms of service. Furthermore, companies often prohibit certain legal content, such as nudity.

We encourage social media companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability. To that end, we partner with Visualizing Impact on Onlinecensorship.org, which collects reports from users in an effort to shine a light on content takedowns. We also regularly advocate for companies to make policy changes, particularly when their policies result in discriminatory practices.

Protecting vulnerable populations from digital attacks

EFF works to protect vulnerable populations from digital attacks. We seek to compensate for the asymmetry between powerful attackers and  targets who do not necessarily have a strong, technical understanding of digital security or a team of experts at their disposal. We research the threats that these populations face, such as state-sponsored malware.  We raise awareness of digital privacy and security issues through our Surveillance Self-Defense project and conduct security trainings based on these materials. We also defend the rights of security researchers through our work on export controls and EFF's Coders Rights Project. so that these researchers can continue to contribute to the safety and security of vulnerable populations.

Defending Technologists and Censored Voices Across The World

Throughout its history, EFF has defended those who have been unfairly targeted with prosecution and detention simply because they used technology to exercise their civil liberties. With our Offline project, EFF seeks to highlight the international cases of individuals who have used technology to speak out against abuse, or have built and shared technology that protects or extends human rights, and have been imprisoned as a result. We work with the communities that support these prisoners of conscience, draw attention to their predicament, and work for their release.

International Highlights

Shadow Regulation

Shadow Regulations are voluntary agreements between companies (sometimes described as codes, principles, standards, or guidelines) to regulate your use of the Internet, often without your knowledge.
Shadow Regulation has become increasingly popular after the monumental failure of restrictive Internet laws such as ACTA, SOPA and PIPA. This...

International Updates

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Recent Surveillance Revelations, Enduring Latin American Issues: 2023 Year in Review

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2023 Year in Review (text animated to change colors)

2023 Year in Review

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In Landmark Battle Over Free Speech, EFF Urges Supreme Court to Strike Down Texas and Florida Laws that Let States Dictate What Speech Social Media Sites Must Publish

WASHINGTON D.C.—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and five organizations defending free speech today urged the Supreme Court to strike down laws in Florida and Texas that let the states dictate certain speech social media sites must carry, violating the sites’ First Amendment rights to curate content they publish—a...

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The Latest EU Media Freedom Act Agreement Is a Bad Deal for Users

The European Parliament and Member States’ representatives last week negotiated a controversial special status for media outlets that are active on large online platforms. The EU Media Freedom Act (EMFA), though well-intended, has significant flaws. By creating a special class of privileged self-declared media providers whose content cannot be removed...

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