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New technologies are radically advancing our freedoms, but they are also enabling unparalleled invasions of privacy. National and international laws have yet to catch up with the evolving need for privacy that comes with new digital technologies. Respect for individuals' autonomy, anonymous speech, and the right to free association must be balanced against legitimate concerns like law enforcement. EFF fights in the courts and Congress to maintain your privacy rights in the digital world, and works with partners around the globe to support the development of privacy-protecting technologies.

Your cell phone helps you keep in touch with friends and family, but it also makes it easier for the government to track your location.

Your Web searches about sensitive medical information might seem a secret between you and your search engine, but companies like Google are creating a treasure trove of personal information by logging your online activities, and making it potentially available to any party wielding enough cash or a subpoena.

And the next time you try to board a plane, watch out—you might be turned away after being mistakenly placed on a government watch list, or be forced to open your email in the security line.

Several governments have also chosen to use malware to engage in extra-legal spying or system sabotage for dissidents or non-citizens, all in the name of “national security.”

As privacy needs evolve, so too should our regulatory regimes. National governments must put legal checks in place to prevent abuse of state powers, and international bodies need to consider how a changing technological environment shapes security agencies’ best practices. Above all, we need to respect the rights of autonomy, anonymity, association, and expression that privacy makes possible, while also taking into account legitimate law enforcement concerns.

Read our work on privacy issues below, and join EFF to help support our efforts.

For information about the law and technology of government surveillance in the United States check out EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense project.

Privacy Highlights

NSA Spying

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late...

Privacy Updates

EFF Analysis Of The Provisions Of The USA PATRIOT Act

Introduction On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act (PATRIOT) into law. PATRIOT gave sweeping new powers to both domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies and eliminated the checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that such powers were not abused. Most...

Biometrics: Who's Watching You?

September 2003 Introduction Among the many reactions to the September 11 tragedy has been a renewed attention to biometrics. The federal government has led the way with its new concern about border control. Other proposals include the use of biometrics with ID cards and in airports, e.g. video surveillance enhanced...

Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act (S. 1552)

Supported by organizations from across the political spectrum, the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act (PRI) seeks to place reasonable limits on the powers granted to law enforcement and intelligence agencies under the USA PATRIOT Act. PRI would amend many of PATRIOT’s most troublesome provisions, reasserting traditional checks and balances...

EFF's Top 12 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy

April 2002 by Stanton McCandlish, EFF Technology Director Vers. 2.0 - Apr. 10, 2002 Note: Mention of specific product, service or company names does not constitute EFF endorsement or recommendation. Examples and links are provided as starting points for readers, who must make up their own minds about...

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