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Digital Rights During The Pandemic

As part of EFF's response to the COVID-19 crisis, we've edited and compiled our critical thoughts on digital rights and the pandemic into an e-book: EFF's Guide to Digital Rights and the Pandemic.

To get the e-book, you can make an optional contribution to support EFF's work, or you can download it at no cost. We released the e-book under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits sharing among users.

No matter who you are, this collection will likely be relevant to your understanding of the pandemic and society's response to it.


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every area of our daily life, requiring hundreds of millions to take steps that would be unthinkable in normal times. It has also had a profound impact on how we use technology, and what we expect from it.

In the first few weeks of the United States' COVID-19 shut-down, our team of lawyers, technologists, activists, and experts wrote dozens of articles on the interactions between COVID-19 and technology. Despite that swiftness, these conclusions were built on years of preparative work. In those weeks, we wrote multiple blog posts a day, not just to be timely, but to assemble our own thoughts on the changing situation, and to inject dependable, timeless concerns where they most need to be heard.

The book is arranged into five sections: Surveillance, Free Speech, Government Transparency, Innovation, and Living More Online. While the articles in each section were written to speak to policymakers and citizens at the moment that they were first reacting to the new realities of the virus, they are not "hot takes."

They cover a wide range of topics, including how to protect your privacy while offering support to your community during the pandemic, a framework for considering surveillance measures that might aid in protecting individuals from COVID-19, and the crucial need for increased government transparency during the crisis (and beyond). They were all written based on our decades of experience tangling with rapid societal and technological change.

As a result of COVID-19, we now rely more than ever before on the Internet and digital tools to work, learn, and share information and advice. And beyond that, we're using it to create art, listen to our favorite musicians perform "live," organize aid for one another, and just to deal with the loss of in-person contact that comes with quarantining.

But governments and companies are also considering dangerous uses of technology, like ubiquitous location tracking and facial recognition technology. As always, EFF is standing strong to make sure that we take advantage of how technology can help us now, and emerge from this time with our freedom and democracy as strong, if not stronger, than when we went in.


Comments welcome.


Posted on May 26, 2020

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