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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

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Paper Trail Reform in E-Voting

Los Angeles - A federal judge today ruled that California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's requirements to ensure the security of electronic voting machines do not violate federal or state law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, California Voter Foundation, VerifiedVoting.org, and Voters Unite! submitted a friend-of-the-court brief and a surreply in...

Maryland Election Officials Under Fire From Voters

EFF Files Brief in Case Challenging the Use of Insecure Diebold E-Voting Machines Maryland - EFF has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Maryland case that challenges the integrity of that state's electronic voting machines, which are manufactured by the troubled electronic voting machine company, Diebold Election Systems. EFF presented...

Accessibility and Auditability in Electronic Voting

May 2004 Background Nearly one-third of American voters – over 50 million people – live in districts that will use electronic voting terminals to elect the next president.1 However, widespread reports of voting terminal failures,2 and growing concern about the security3 of these machines, are fueling fierce debate over...

California Bans Insecure E-Voting Machines

Acting to ensure the integrity of California's November elections, California Secrectary of State Kevin Shelley on Friday announced the adoption of a new state policy making it so that all California voters will have the option of recording their votes on paper. In addition, the state has decertified Diebold's infamous...

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