Privacy & Surveillance

Privacy & Surveillance

Protecting the privacy vital to free thought and expression

Our laws restricting surveillance and data collection are struggling to keep pace with new technology that can track and reveal our expressive lives in ever more detail, and with new business models that rely on the aggregation and exploitation of this information.

Our work is meant to illuminate the scope and impact of surveillance by government and private corporations, promote stronger legal protections for privacy, and enrich public understanding of the interplay between privacy and the freedoms of inquiry, speech, and association.



  • FOIA Lawsuit

    Knight Institute v. CIA

    A FOIA lawsuit seeking records on the government’s use of “spyware”

  • Amicus Brief

    United States v. Xiang

    An Eighth Circuit appeal addressing the constitutionality of warrantless electronic device searches at the border

  • FOIA Lawsuit

    Knight Institute v. Department of State

    A FOIA lawsuit seeking records relating to the Biden administration’s review of the use of social media identifiers in visa vetting



New York, NY

A Conversation with Edward Snowden

A post-event video featuring Snowden talking about surveillance, security, and whistleblowers

Columbia University, New York, NY

Protecting Privacy in the "Golden Age" of Surveillance

Joan Feigenbaum and Robert S. Litt discuss encryption, surveillance, law enforcement, and privacy with Knight Institute Senior Staff Attorney Alex Abdo

Columbia University, New York, NY

Freedom of Expression in an Age of Surveillance: Measuring the "Chilling Effect"

The second in a series of events examining the role of the First Amendment in assessing the lawfulness of government surveillance