In this age of technological devices and digital lives, there is little escape from dealing with the problems of the real world, even online. Whether it involves identity theft, government regulations or espionage, digital consumers need to know how to defend their rights.
For this reason, advocacy groups like The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) exist.
EFF is a San Francisco based non-profit organization founded in 1990. With a team of lawyers, policy makers, activists, technologists and other volunteers, EFF fights for freedom rights in the courts of this country.
"As more and more people live digital lives we need to make sure someone is maintaining our securities respected," said Rebecca Jeschke, media relations coordinator for EEF. "People need to make sure they know their rights and use tools available to them to know how to talk to representatives in case there are bills going into Congress that could affect them."
Jeschke said that many times people use the Internet and other technologies without thinking about consequences. She explained a simple scenario of people opening an e-mail account and often rushing through the registration process by clicking â€˜Accept’ in the terms and conditions section.
It’s this fine print that can make a person susceptible to abuses. Some companies buy consumer information and use it as they desire. The users cannot object since they agreed to the e-mail supplier’s rules without giving them a second glance.
Last year, this scenario took place when EFF publicly criticized America On Line (AOL) for releasing the query records of 650,000 users. These records painted a complete picture of a person by exposing their medical, financial and other internet use history. Since then, other e-mail providers–Google, for example–have new data retention policy in use that keep consumer Internet-use records for shorter periods of time and maintain them private.
Through the organization’s Action Center, people can sign up to volunteer or receive updates on issues that affect their rights. The Center is currently working on petitions to reform the Patriot Act, a legislation that lets the government obtain electronic records of Americans.
It also supports the Fair Use Act, a doctrine in copyright law which allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, and fights the Real ID Act, which requires states to issue federally approved driver’s licenses or identification cards to everyone who lives and works in the United States legally.
Although there are other First Amendment activist groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union, EFF differs from others since it acts as a legal front for citizens on a nation-wide scale. These legal suits combine with the educational tools offered on the group’s website. Together, they influence people into protecting their first and fourth constitutional amendments, said Jeschke.
Avoid ending up tracked and watched like in a scene from George Orwell’s 1984, by protecting your privacy or freedom of speech rights. A quick visit to their website can supply insightful details on what to guard yourself from and how to act if violations to your civil liberties are occurring.