Get Involved: Go Online


Freedom of Speech, the Right to Privacy, and Digital Media

Inform Yourself

Know your rights and protect your information online. Visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) website, which is dedicated to protecting freedom on the Internet. Since there is no established right to privacy online, the EFF works to defend digital rights, including privacy, free speech, innovation, and consumer rights. Click on the “Our Work” tab to see the EFF’s “Whitepapers” (reports). Your computer, phone, and other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. Read the “Know Your Rights” (June 2011) white paper to learn how to protect your personal documents. Before reading this, were you aware of these issues? Are they important to you? Why or why not?
Understand current issues in digital rights. The EFF’s Deeplink Blog provides up-to-the-minute reporting on current political issues and issues of civil liberties that may affect you and others you know. There are posts on online video privacy, drones, bloggers’ rights, coders’ rights, free speech, surveillance self-defense, worldwide Internet censorship, cell phone tracking data from wireless carriers, personal data and social media, patent problems, and much more.
Think critically about civil liberties issues. The American Civil Liberties Union ( is one of the country’s oldest and most active groups working to protect civil liberties. Visit its website and select a “Key Issue,” such as Internet privacy, rights of individuals accused of a crime, immigration, religion, reproductive freedom, or flag burning. Read the arguments for protecting these rights. Do you agree or disagree with the ACLU’s position on the issue? Why?

Express Yourself

Read and consider signing the petitions available at the EFF’s website to defend digital rights online, by clicking the “Take Action” tab. Do you believe in a free and open Internet? What about the rights of bloggers who are the victims of frivolous lawsuits for legitimate online content? How do you feel about criminal penalties for online streaming of copyrighted videos? (Congress is considering such a law.)
Would you burn a virtual flag? The Flag Burning Page gives visitors the opportunity to burn a virtual flag, and points out that if the Constitution were amended to ban flag desecration (as has been proposed), the page would be illegal. The Supreme Court considers burning the American flag an act protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. Do you agree or disagree?

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