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EFF defends your ability to use the Internet as a platform for free expression through law, technology, and activism. The Internet has radically enhanced our access to information in countless ways, and empowered anyone to share ideas and connect with the entire world. Yet while speech is invited and empowered on the electronic frontier, it is also sometimes threatened.

Freed of the limitations inherent in traditional print or broadcast media created—and constrained—by corporate gatekeepers, speech thrives online. Social networking websites allow groups of a dozen friends to grow into massive communities that transcend national borders. Meanwhile, community journalists have used microblogging and video live-streaming to expose the world to stories that long went unheard. Websites like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive have pioneered an open-source model of sharing and preserving information.

On the other hand, speech is also threatened online. Coders and developers risk criminal penalties for practicing the kind of digital tinkering, repair, and exploration that enable innovation. Similarly, dissidents and activists, especially those whose opinions may be unpopular where they live, confront chilling effects imposed by government surveillance programs that constrain their freedom of expression. Journalists and researchers can also be stymied by government agencies that limit public access to certain information.

The technological capacity enabling even great wonders can mean little when users are denied legal protections for their creativity. Without sufficient legal protections for users and innovators, it's all too easy for governments and companies to undermine your rights. Learn more below and consider supporting our efforts.

Free Speech Highlights

Free Speech is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

From Mubarak knocking a country offline by pressuring local ISPs to PayPal caving to political pressure to cut off funding to WikiLeaks, this year has brought us sobering examples of how online speech can be endangered. And it’s not only political speech that is threatened – in the United...

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

47 U.S.C. § 230, a Provision of the Communication Decency Act Tucked inside the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 is one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet: Section 230. This comes somewhat as a surprise, since the original purpose of...

Free Speech Updates

When Police Misuse Their Power to Control News Coverage, They Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Use Probable Cause As a Shield Against Claims of First Amendment Violations

Journalists face increasingly hostile conditions covering public protests, presidential rallies, corruption, and police brutality in the course of work as watchdogs over government power. A case before the U.S. Supreme Court threatens press freedoms even further by potentially giving the government freer rein to arrest media people in...

Lifting the Cloak of Secrecy From NYPD Surveillance Technology

For too long, the New York Police Department has secretly deployed cutting-edge spy tech, without notice to the public. Many of these snooping devices invade our privacy, deter our free speech, and disparately burden minority and immigrant communities. Fortunately, a proposed ordinance (“the POST Act”) would lift the cloak of...

Platform Censorship: Lessons From the Copyright Wars

There’s a lot of talk these days about “content moderation.” Policymakers, some public interest groups, and even some users are clamoring for intermediaries to do “more,” to make the Internet more “civil,” though there are wildly divergent views on what that “more” should be. Others vigorously oppose such moderation, arguing...

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