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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

Bad Memory Card Compromises 13,000 Ballots

According to Local 6, about 13,000 ballots in Florida were put in jeopardy today because of a bad memory card in an optical-scan voting machine. When the error was discovered, representatives from both parties were notified and the ballots were removed from the site and placed in a vault...

Presidential Votes Miscast on E-voting Machines Across the Country

Voters from at least half a dozen states reported that touch-screen voting machines had incorrectly recorded their choices, including for president. Voters discovered the problems when checking the review screen at the end of the voting process. They found, to their surprise, that the machines indicated that they voted for...

Safety Tips for Voters

David Dill has prepared a terrific tip sheet that may help you avoid the e-voting problems we've seen crop up during early voting: 1. Prepare before going to the polls. Mark your votes in advance on the sample ballot that was mailed to you. Why? * We're getting...

Got Expert?

There's a brand new weblog that's a must-read for everyone concerned about the problems with e-voting: E-voting-Experts.com. It's helmed by leading computer security experts and researchers who have volunteered to be "on call" during the election to help voters, poll watchers, reporters, and others understand what's really going on...

E-voting - What the Horror Stories Teach

EFF will be reporting on Election Day about any problems that may arise with electronic voting machines, but some of the machines have been used in earlier elections and during early voting this week, so we're already starting to see patterns emerge. The National Committee for Voting Integrity (...

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