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Interested in staving off a cyber-surveillance state? See what others are doing to protect civil liberties.


Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

In 2002, to address the chronic problem of commercialism aimed at children, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) was founded. It engages in education and outreach to stop the practice of child-targeted marketing. Among its victories, CCFC insisted that the Walt Disney Company stop falsely marketing “Baby Einstein” videos as educational for infants. Disney complied and offered refunds to parents who had been deceived by the company’s false claims. CCFC also organized parents around the country to stop BusRadio, a company broadcasting student-targeted ads on school buses. After a three-year campaign, BusRadio went out of business. CCFC worked with parents and educators to defeat state legislation allowing advertising on school buses in several states. The group also stopped McDonald’s from advertising on report card envelopes in Florida. The advertisements promised elementary school students free Happy Meals as a reward for good school performance. CCFC’s successes show that corporate behavior can be regulated and controlled through organizing and advocacy.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded in 1990 to advocate for Internet civil liberties. It provides education, lobbying, and litigation pertaining to digital speech. Its lawsuits against National Security Agency warrantless surveillance have helped highlight the program’s unconstitutionality and have compelled the government to defend the program in the courts for years. The EFF, along with the other groups and individuals fighting for increased transparency, regularly submits requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act to determine the extent to which the government uses technologies for surveillance. EFF white papers cover a range of issues relevant to technology and civil liberties, from location privacy, and biometric data protection to best practices for online service providers.

EFF’s 2008 case Jewel v. NSA, suing the NSA and other government agencies on behalf of AT&T customers to stop warrantless surveillance of their communications and communications records, remains one of the few pending legal challenges that has not been dismissed on grounds of standing or sovereign immunity.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Founded in 1994, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) works to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values. EPIC publishes reports and an online newsletter on civil liberties in the information age. It also files amicus briefs and lawsuits.

Freedom of the Press Foundation

The Freedom of the Press Foundation was founded in 2012 to support journalism that uncovers unlawful and corrupt government practices. The Foundation recognizes the influence of corporations and government on modern media. That results in vapid news coverage and outright censorship. The Foundation offers funding support for media outlets and individual journalists who have been censored or shut out for their work in these areas. It has supported Wikileaks, Truthout, the Center for Public Integrity, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, MuckRock News, the National Security Archive, and the UpTake.

The People’s Law Office

The People’s Law Office (PLO) in Chicago was founded in 1969 and has a storied history of defending civil rights of individuals and entire communities. Early cases including defending the rights of Black Panther Fred Hampton, murdered by the FBI, to representing members of the Puerto Rican community working for Puerto Rican independence.

Among the cases involving individuals deemed worthy of government monitoring for their political views, many of whom are falsely discredited by with charges of terrorist-related offenses, PLO lawyers defended Scott DeMuth, an animal-rights advocate accused of being a member of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and destroying an animal testing lab. DeMuth was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Iowa, where he refused to testify and was charged with engaging in Animal Enterprise Terrorism. After months of pretrial challenges, the Iowa charges were dismissed in return for a six-month sentence for a separate incident in Minnesota.

Attorneys from the office have represented activists targeted by the government for their political activities, including environmentalists, antiwar activists, people raising awareness of police brutality, and individuals active in many other movements.