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Knowing “what the government is up to” is often the first step in ensuring that the government respects the civil liberties of its citizens. Transparency is especially important given the government’s increasingly secretive use of new technologies for law enforcement and national security purposes. From cell phone location tracking, the use of surveillance drones, secret interpretations of electronic surveillance law, and the expanding use of biometrics, EFF wants to hold the government accountable and uphold your digital rights.

To that aim, EFF’s transparency work is dedicated to using federal and state freedom of information laws, the courtroom, and our megaphone to shine light on government activities. 

One of the major tools we use is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a federal law that gives people the right to request information kept by federal government agencies. Our team of FOIA lawyers also submit requests on a variety of digital civil liberties issues and often take cases to court when we believe the government is unduly withholding information. But anyone can make a request under FOIA, and you can go here to learn how you can submit your own.

While emerging technologies give the government new tools that threaten citizen civil liberties, technology also has the potential to create a more democratic relationship between public institutions and the citizens they serve. Today, a broad range of new tools are allowing the public to more closely examine government and corporate entities and to hold them accountable for deception, censorship, and corruption. In addition to using freedom of information laws to shed light on government actions, EFF also wants to highlight technologies that help the transparency process —whether it’s making it easier to file and track FOIA requests, websites dedicated to whistleblowing, or open government initiatives that can improve access to information.

Transparency Highlights

FISC Orders on Illegal Government Surveillance

EFF has sued the Department of Justice (DOJ), demanding answers about illegal email and telephone call surveillance at the National Security Agency (NSA). The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 gave the NSA expansive power to spy on Americans’ international email and telephone calls. However, last month, a government lawyer...
FOILIES

The Foilies 2018

Recognizing the Year’s Worst in Government Transparency Government transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act exist to enforce the public’s right to inspect records so we can all figure out what the heck is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. But when a public agency...

Transparency Updates

U.S. Trade Office Withholds Documents on Secret IP Enforcement Treaty

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge have filed suit against the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), demanding information about a secret intellectual property enforcement treaty that the government has put on a fast track to completion. The United States, Canada, the European...
Transparency issue banner, a colorful graphic of a magnifying lens over some paper folders

The FCC and Regulatory Capture

Earlier this month, Internet users welcomed the FCC's ruling against Comcast for interfering with BitTorrent uploads, celebrating the action as a victory for net neutrality. Reigning in Comcast's dishonest behavior was the right thing to do in this case, but many observers are worried that the FCC is establishing...
Transparency issue banner, a colorful graphic of a magnifying lens over some paper folders

Public Pressure Mounts Against Invasive Border Searches

Random, invasive laptop searches and other digital privacy violations at the U.S. border are facing increasing pressure from the public and Congress. One of the big complaints EFF and others have had is the lack of information and accountability about the intrusive examination of computer files, cell phone directories, and...

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