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Telegram urged to resist Myanmar junta's "online terror campaign"

Women are central to Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement. That's precisely why the brutal military regime’s supporters are doxxing them on platforms like Telegram, leading to public shaming, violent attacks, and arrests — forcing many women into exile. Now, UN human rights experts are calling on Telegram and other digital platforms to stand up to the junta, warning that "Telegram's lax approach to content moderation and gaps in its terms of service" is enabling human rights violations. Read more via UN OHCHR

Dig deeper

What Telegram can do

It's not just people in Myanmar who are at risk. Telegram is a go-to platform for activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and dissidents in Russia, Iran, Belarus, Hong Kong, and beyond. It's imperative that the company take steps to meet its international human rights obligations. To learn what this entails, read our coalition open letter from 2021. Read more via Access Now

The digital morality police

Iraqi authorities crack down on "indecent" content, seek new censorship powers

In Iraq, a woman has been sentenced to six months in jail simply for dancing in a sports stadium. This follows the launch of an aggressive government campaign to eradicate "indecent" or "immoral" content on social media, including the roll-out of a highly controversial platform for citizens to report on each other. Now, not only are Iraqi authorities arresting people on overly broad and vague grounds, they're working on dangerous new digital content regulations to further restrict what people can say or do online. Read more in Arabic or English. Read more via Access Now

Civil society warns of "serious attack on the Iraqi Constitution"

Together with our civil society partners, we've analyzed a leaked draft of the new digital content regulations. It’s not looking good. Here’s what Iraq's Communications and Media Commission is proposing, and why we're urging authorities to drop the draft immediately. Read our coallition open letter in Arabic or English. Read more via Access Now

Defending LGBTQ+ rights in Africa

In East Africa and Ghana, homophobic attacks are putting LGBTQ+ people in danger

Everyone has the right to free assembly and association. But after Kenya's Supreme Court confirmed that LGBTQ+ civil society organizations have this fundamental right, politicians, religious leaders, and other public figures in Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana unleashed a wave of online hate speech and disinformation, and in some cases, have also championed dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Here are tips from our Digital Security Helpline to help human rights defenders stay safe during this difficult time. Read more via Access Now

Ghana’s parliament must reject repressive anti-LGBTQ+ bill

In Ghana, lawmakers are considering an anti-LGBTQ+ bill described by human rights experts as "an immediate and fundamental breach of Ghana’s obligations under human rights law.” This kind of legislation, which proponents claim promotes “family” or “moral” values, represents "the continuation of a colonial legacy that categorizes consensual intimacy between LGBTQ+ people as deviant in order to further entrench systemic oppression,” says Access Now's Jaimee Kokonya. Read our joint open letter with civil society partners calling on lawmakers to reject the bill. Read more via Access Now

Listen: LGBTQ+ rights and the "global identity wars"

Digital platforms can empower LBGTQ+ people to defend their rights. But they are also weaponized to undermine those rights. In this podcast episode, Access Now's Brett Solomon discusses Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ bill, as well as the state of digital rights for LGBTQ+ people worldwide. Listen now via This Week in Cyberspace

Pushing for global spyware accountability

France and the U.K. agree to tackle commercial spyware

Bad news for spyware makers like NSO Group and Cytrox, good news for civil society: France and the U.K. have jointly agreed to "take forward international action on tackling the threat from commercial cyber proliferation, including commercial spyware." Read more via U.K. Government

Why does the global spyware industry continue to thrive?

While the joint agreement marks progress, we still need governments to take more aggressive action against spyware. New research published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace examines the trends, explanations, and responses to the continued global proliferation and use of spyware, highlighting how the surveillance tech industry benefits from "inconsistent political will from democratic governments to crack down on these technologies." Read more via Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

UN rights expert calls for new approach to reining in surveillance tech

In a new report, UN Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin warns that governments are using intrusive, high-risk technologies "without due regard for the rule of law, governance, and human rights," and urges authorities to effectively regulate surveillance tech by ensuring both governments and companies apply minimum human rights standards during its development, use, and transfer. Read more via UN OHCHR

What's next

Coming up: the second U.S. Summit for Democracy, March 29-30

Since the launch last year, we’ve been co-leading the Technology for Democracy Cohort of the U.S. Summit for Democracy in partnership with the U.K. and Estonian governments. Check out our agenda for the second summit and stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks. Read more via Access Now

Opportunities and other highlights

Joining us in-person for RightsCon Costa Rica? Apply to volunteer!

If you’re attending RightsCon Costa Rica on June 5-8, and you want first-hand experience inside our first-ever hybrid summit, consider applying to be an official RightsCon volunteer. Learn more and apply here. And remember, if you haven’t registered yet, we still have Early Bird tickets available, and there are multiple options for your participation. We hope to see you there! Read more via Access Now

We're hiring!

We have several exciting openings on our team, including Director of Policy and International Programs. Check out the details on our openings and apply. Read more via Access Now