Access Now


Hacking Meduza: Pegasus used to target Putin critic

Poisoning, Pegasus? Together with the Citizen Lab, Access Now has documented the first-known use of Israeli firm NSO Group's Pegasus spyware against a Russian journalist. The target: Galina Timchenko, co-founder, CEO, and publisher of Meduza, a Latvia-based Russian independent news organization that has been critical of Vladimir Putin's regime and the invasion of Ukraine. Read our joint investigation in English or Russian. Read more via Access Now

Dig deeper

Inside the hacking of Meduza: "I felt dirty"

How did Timchenko discover her phone was hacked, and what did she do next? Meduza has the full story, in English and RussianRead more via Meduza

Is Putin deploying Pegasus?

Only two weeks before the Pegasus attack, the Russian government designated Meduza an "undesirable organization," officially outlawing its operations. But it turns out that Russia isn't the only country that could be behind the attack. It's also possible that a European Union, Eastern European, or Central Asian government is responsible. In a post on X, Dutch MEP Sophie in‘t Veld called for an immediate European response: "3 years of revelations, parliamentary & judicial inquiries, US blacklisting and public outcry, but the abuse of #spyware #Pegasus continues right under our noses.”  Read more via The Guardian

Stopping the global scourge of commercial spyware

Even before we published our investigation, we heard that the Council of Europe is preparing a resolution to demand that countries including Poland, Hungary, Greece, Spain, and Azerbaijan provide information about how they acquire and use spyware like Pegasus. But that won't be enough to protect journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society. World governments must act together, argues former UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye, creating a global regime of control and accountability, driven by human rights standards. We agree. Read our call to action. Read more via Access Now

Journalists, lock down your phones

Last week, the Citizen Lab identified a zero-click vulnerability in the iPhone and other iOS devices that enables attackers to deliver Pegasus spyware. If you haven't done so already, immediately update your phone or device to the iOS version 16.6.1, and consider using Apple's Lockdown Mode, designed for people likely to be targeted by sophisticated digital threats. As always, if you're part of a human rights organization or civil society rights group, or a journalist or media organization in need of direct emergency digital safety assistance, our Digital Security Helpline is a resource for you. Read more via the Citizen Lab

When your body is a battleground

The world must never forget Mahsa Amini 

This Sunday marks one year since Mahsa Amini’s life was cut short while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Her death sparked women-led protests across the country, and the flames of resistance are still burning bright. But the regime is escalating attacks on women's rights defenders, wielding internet shutdowns to disrupt protests and deploying biometric surveillance to police women's bodies. Iran's parliament is even considering a new law to punish women for not wearing hijab, whether in public or on social media. Here's how the world can – and must – respond. Read more via Access Now

The Iranian activists fighting for a free and open internet

In June, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the judiciary to crack down harder on online dissent. Context talks to the activists fearlessly putting their lives and freedom on the line to protest ongoing internet shutdowns and push back against the militarization of the internet. "I wish someone out there would hear our voice and do something," said one anonymous activist. Read more via Context

You can't greenwash this

World governments must address UAE human rights abuses before COP28

Torturing human rights defenders. Kidnapping and abusing women. Spying on and silencing their critics. The UAE government, host of the upcoming UN COP28 climate summit, continues to violate human rights, while it plans to dramatically increase oil and gas production. Read our new joint letter to COP28 participants, and join our call for concrete action that protects people and our planet, not greenwashing that prioritizes profit. Read more via Access Now

Censorship is no joke

Control+Alt+Suppress: Jordan's cybercrime law and the growth of state censorship

Jordan’s government recently blocked access to online satire publication Al-Hudood after it joked about the royal family – and that's just one example of the kind of sweeping censorship Jordan’s new cybercrime law enables. Access Now's Marwa Fatafta joins the New Arab Voice podcast to explain how the law’s broad and vague provisions threaten the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy, while handing the government more power to control what people say or do online. Tune in via the New Arab

Study confirms: internet shutdowns are political

Governments often try to justify internet shutdowns, platform blocking, and other repressive acts of censorship as public safety measures. But according to new research from IODA (Internet Outage Detection and Analysis), the shutdown data show that they are "significantly more likely to occur on days of political mobilization." In fact, IODA found that shutdowns are "nine times more likely to co-occur with protests, 16 times more likely to co-occur with elections, and 286 times more likely to co-occur during coups." Read more via IODA

Opportunities and other highlights

We're hiring a Digital Security Helpline Manager (MENA)

If you're a technologist inspired by our mission, with the ability to lead, manage, and motivate a diverse team that responds to digital emergencies in real time, you could be a good fit for the open position in our Digital Security Helpline team. Check out the details and apply! Learn more via Access Now

Register for the Trust conference, October 19-20

Thomson Reuters Foundation’s upcoming Trust summit will explore ways to strengthen free, fair, and informed societies, with discussions on media freedom, AI and tech, climate, and more. Learn more and register! Learn more via Thomson Reuters Foundation