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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

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Defending Users: Initial Ideas for Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Payment Processors, and Other Choke Points Within the Blockchain Ecosystem

The blockchain ecosystem has drastically changed over the last nine years, and the realities of today don’t closely resemble how many early enthusiasts imagined Bitcoin would evolve. People are no longer mining Bitcoin on their home laptops, and most people aren’t storing private keys on their own hard drives and...

California Should Provide Public Access to Police Body Cam Footage

These days, more police officers are using body-worn cameras, or BWCs. That's why it's more important than ever we have clear guidelines around the public's right to access those police recordings. To that end, EFF is supporting [PDF] A.B. 748, a bill currently pending in the California legislature that...

Facebook, Instagram Lack Transparency on Government-Ordered Content Removal Amid Unprecedented Demands to Censor User Speech, EFF's Annual Who Has Your Back Report Shows

San Francisco, California—Facing increased demands from governments to remove user content, purportedly in the name of combating hate speech and extremism, a handful of social media and app store platforms—including the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and YouTube—have emerged as leaders in transparency, publicly disclosing how often and why...

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