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Matt Cagle

Senior Staff Attorney

Matt Cagle is a senior staff attorney for the Technology and Civil Liberties Program at the ACLU of Northern California. Matt works on issues at the intersection of emerging technologies and civil rights, including government surveillance, digital free speech, and consumer privacy. He uses various strategies in his work, including legislative advocacy, litigation, corporate advocacy, and public communications.

Matt leads legislative and advocacy campaigns that shift policy, shape public opinion, and have nationwide impact. At the state and local level, he drafts legislation, provides testimony, and spearheads successful efforts to pass privacy laws and defeat harmful bills. In San Francisco, Matt orchestrated and led the campaign that achieved the first-ever legislative ban on the government’s use of facial recognition. His public records investigations have uncovered Amazon’s sale of facial recognition to governments and police use of specialized software to spy on social media users, triggering changes to platform policies impacting billions of users. 

Matt’s notable litigation includes Lagleva v. Doyle, a first-of-its-kind case resulting in a settlement barring a sheriff from sharing the GPS locations of drivers (obtained using license plate readers) with out-of-state and federal agencies including ICE; and Williams v. San Francisco, where Matt and the Electronic Frontier Foundation represented three activists challenging San Francisco’s surveillance of Black Lives Matter protests. Matt also contributes to amicus briefs addressing novel issues related to government surveillance and transparency, anonymous speech, and personal privacy.

Matt was recognized on The Recorder’s 2022 “Lawyers on the Fast Track” list, which honors 40 California attorneys under age 40 who represent the next generation of legal leaders. Matt was also selected as one of the Daily Journal’s “Top Artificial Intelligence Lawyers” in 2019.

Matt regularly appears in print, radio, and video media, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, WIRED, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has over a decade of public speaking experience and has presented at national conferences including South by Southwest, DEFCON, Facing Race, and RightsCon. Matt’s publications include Fighting Local Surveillance: A Toolkit, a guide for activists and community members seeking to uncover and restrict technology-powered surveillance.

Prior to joining the ACLU of Northern California full-time, Matt worked with BlurryEdge Strategies, a boutique legal practice advising startups on privacy and free speech issues. In that role, Matt responded to government demands, drafted policies and terms, and advised companies building web services, connected devices, and mobile apps.

Matt earned a J.D. at Stanford Law School. He has a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Arizona and majored in both political science and Latin American studies. Matt served as Interim Director of the Technology and Civil Liberties Program from November 2023 to February 2024.