In the domain of libertarian philosophy, the primary concern of the civil libertarian is the relationship of the government to the individual. The civil libertarian seeks, in theory, to restrict this relationship to an absolute minimum in which the state can function and provide basic services and securities without excessively interfering in the lives of its citizens. One key cause of civil libertarianism is upholding free speech. Specifically, civil libertarians oppose bans on hate speech and obscenity. Although they may or may not personally condone behaviors associated with these issues, civil libertarians hold that the advantages of unfettered public discourse outweigh all disadvantages.
In the past 20 years, with the advent of personal computers, the Internet, email, cell phones, and other information technology advances, a subset of civil libertarianism has arisen that focuses on protecting individuals’ digital rights and privacy. The organization most closely affiliated with this sort of civil libertarianism is the Electronic Frontier Foundation.