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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

Look Before You E-vote - Proof Your Ballot!

Early voting has begun across the country and we're starting to see just how touchy some of the touchscreen voting machines can be. We're hearing that voters in New Mexico and Texas are trying to cast ballots for one candidate but finding that the machine lights up for another. This...

Resources for Voters in E-voting Hotspots

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation is redistributing a press release from Verified Voting Foundation announcing the release of several key resources for voters in e-voting "hotspots." Voters Guides include step-by-step instructions for voting on the most commonly used electronic voting machines. There are also maps detailing...

California Pollworkers Told to Withhold Information from Voters

Santa Clara County, CA - Pollworkers in Santa Clara County are being trained not to offer voters a chance to use paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has learned. California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley mandated in May that all polling places offer a...

California Gets Paper Trail Law

Terrific late-breaking news. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed the voter-verifiable paper trail bill, ensuring that all Californians will have auditable elections by 2006. Senators Ross Johnson (R-Orange) and Don Perata (D-Alameda) authored Senate Bill 1438, which requires all electronic voting machines to produce a voter-verifiable paper trail by January...

Court of Appeals Revives Florida E-voting Lawsuit

Florida - The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned a lower court's ruling in a case that challenges the legality of Florida's paperless electronic voting machines. The federal suit, brought by Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, argues that the use of the machines violates the United States Constitutional guarantees of...

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