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Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

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...

FOILIES

The Foilies 2018

Recognizing the Year’s Worst in Government TransparencyGovernment 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 ignores,...

Transparency Updates

California Sunshine

Victory in California! Police Instructors Can’t Claim Copyright Protections to Block Release of Use-of-Force and Other Training Materials

After a two-year legal battle, the state agency that certifies police officers in California has agreed to EFF's demand that it stop using copyright concerns as a predicate to withhold law enforcement training materials from public scrutiny. The immediate impact of this victory for transparency is the public will be...

surveillance cameras spying on protestors

SFPD Obtained Live Access to Business Camera Network in Anticipation of Tyre Nichols Protest

New documents EFF received through public records requests have revealed that the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) received live access to the hundreds of surveillance cameras that comprise the Union Square Business Improvement District’s (USBID) camera network in anticipation of potential protests following the police killing of Tyre Nichols in...

Security camera screens display logos for Facebook, YouTube, SnapChat, Twitter, and Reddit

Your Messaging Service Should Not Be a DEA Informant

A new U.S. Senate bill would require private messaging services, social media companies, and even cloud providers to report their users to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) if they find out about certain illegal drug sales. This would lead to inaccurate reports and turn messaging services into government informants.

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