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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...

The Foilies 2017

Recognizing the Year’s Worst in Government Transparency A thick fog is rolling in over Sunshine Week (March 12-18), the annual event when government transparency advocates raise awareness about the importance of access to public records. We are entering an age when officials at the highest levels seek to discredit...

Transparency Updates

E-Voting Mistake Caught on Paper

In news at once frightening and reassuring, a Sequoia electronic voting machine suffered a very public failure last week during a live demo. The machine worked fine with an English-language ballot, but failed to record votes with the Spanish-language ballot. The mistake was detected because the machine produced a...

Texas Secretary of State Backs Down

Agrees to Postpone Closed Voting Examiner Meetings in Face of ACLU Lawsuit Austin, TX - The Texas Secretary of State today agreed to indefinitely postpone a meeting of the state's voting examiners following the filing of a lawsuit by the ACLU of Texas and a Texas voter. The Electronic Frontier...

Sunshine Sought for Texas Election Systems Examiners

Lawsuit Attacks Secrecy of Meetings Where E-voting Machines Are Evaluated Austin, TX - The ACLU of Texas and a Texas voter today filed a lawsuit demanding that the meetings of the state's voting examiners be held in public. The voting examiners are responsible for studying electronic voting machines and other...

Maryland E-Voting Suit Pushes to Decertify Diebold Machines

EFF and National Voter Rights Organizations Support Appeal to State's Highest Court Maryland - Lawyers representing eight Maryland citizens today filed a petition with the state supreme court seeking to decertify or fix Diebold voting machines that computer security experts have deemed insecure. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), working with...

Election Integrity Organizations Ask Judge to Protect Ohio Elections

Lawsuit Remedy Should Permit Secure, Accessible Voting Systems Akron, OH - Organizations focused on election integrity today asked a federal judge to choose secure electronic voting machines with voter-verified paper audit trails as the remedy for a lawsuit challenging the use of punch card and certain kinds of optical scan...

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