Online privacy is an important topic moving into 2017, and if you’re using apps like TunnelBear to keep your information private online, you’re taking the first step (nice!).
However, the solution to online privacy won’t be solved with technology alone. We’ll need public awareness on the big issues, scrutiny of new legislation, and experts guiding lawmakers towards better policy.
That’s where the role of digital rights groups comes in. They work towards solving the other half of the privacy equation and play a critical role in making the internet private and open for everyone with policies and lawmakers on the front line of all the issues.
If you’re keen to see 2017 head in the direction around online privacy, maybe it’s time to donate to an organization or campaign.
Here’s a few outstanding organizations that TunnelBear supports:
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
The EFF, the oldest and largest privacy organization on the internet, was founded in July 1990 out of necessity when the company, Steve Jackson Games, had personal email correspondences deleted from their computers by the US Secret Service. At the time, there were no laws protecting electronic mail from being seized and read without a specific warrant but with this case, the EFF laid out the legal groundwork for the laws we have in place protecting our privacy today.
The EFF continues to take cases and launch projects to protect free speech, fair use, innovation, privacy, and transparency on the internet at a global scale.
OpenMedia was founded in Canada in 2008 as a non-partisan organization with the goal to protect open communication on the internet. In 2013, OpenMedia launched the campaign, StopTheMeter.ca, to fight against usage-based billing in Canada. The appeal became the largest of its kind in Canada with over 500,000 signatures to the online petition.
OpenMedia bases its work on what they state are the three pillars of internet rights: access, free expression, and privacy. Some of their current campaigns include Stop the Shakedown, Unblock Canada, and Let’s Talk TPP (among many others).
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
The ACLU not only focuses on protecting civil liberties of Americans online, but in every aspect of life. Over 70 years after its launch, the ACLU fought its first internet-focused case to protect free speech online by challenging the Communications Decency Act and its ban of indecent speech online. Since then, the ACLU has challenged any similar act passed by Congress, successfully getting them deemed unconstitutional.
Among the many issues that the ACLU fights for, internet privacy is high on the list, covering areas from consumer online privacy to social networking privacy.
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)
Similar to the ACLU, the BCCLA focuses on protecting civil liberties and human rights in Canada. Starting in 1962, the BCCLA has fought for the rights of all Canadians (not just those in BC!). Privacy has long been one of its most important causes, and has most recently focused on stopping illegal spying throughout the country.
The BCCLA has published numerous works to keep citizens informed on their civil liberties and get them involved.
Fight for the Future
Fight for the Future was founded in 2011 with the mission to “ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core.” In 2012, Fight for the Future held the largest-ever online protest against web censorship, which helped to defeat the SOPA and PIPA bills.
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
EPIC was founded in 1994 as a public interest research center, focusing on privacy and civil liberties issues on the web. EPIC works towards their goal through a wide variety of projects, ranging from research and public education to appearing in court or speaking in front of Congress on privacy and civil liberties issues.
EPIC is constantly staying up-to-date with the newest technologies that could pose a threat to privacy with two recent examples being drone privacy rules and body scanners. EPIC also provides easily digestible information on privacy as well as comprehensive coverage of all of their projects.
If we want our privacies protected and the internet to be open and free, we must all do our part by helping these organizations succeed.
Are there any other privacy organizations or campaigns that you support? Let us know who you support in online privacy.