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Private tech, humanitarian problems: exploring the data-for-aid dynamic

During moments of crises, conflict, and war, people rely on humanitarian agencies and NGOs for basic needs and protection. But these same actors can expose people seeking help to further harm. Our latest report, Mapping Humanitarian Tech: exposing protection gaps in digital transformation programs, digs into the risks of often-opaque corporate partnerships, offering analysis and recommendations to keep people safe. Read more via Access Now

Dig deeper

The “cynical space” where aid, tech, and militaries intersect

Access Now’s Senior Humanitarian Officer, Giulio Coppi, talks to Devex about our new report's findings, describing the humanitarian tech landscape as “an opaque world dealing in the data of the world's most vulnerable and providing fertile ground to greedy data brokers and intermediaries.” In situations of crisis and conflict, data protection can go by the wayside, he warns. People needing assistance are often required to hand over private information to receive aid — even though “there cannot be meaningful consent when your life depends on giving away your data.” Read more via Devex

Are E.U. too little, too late?

The E.U.’s new political ad rules won’t protect the next European elections

More than 400 million E.U. citizens are eligible to vote in this June’s European Parliament elections. Access Now’s Elîska Pírková examines the E.U.’s new rules on political advertising, which are intended to protect electoral integrity and prevent voter manipulation, explaining why they represent “a missed opportunity, albeit one with potential for the future.” Read more via Access Now

The E.U. DSA comes into force for all

The E.U. has other tools to help protect electoral integrity; most notably the Digital Services Act (DSA). This law, which already applies to the largest digital platforms, kicks in for all online search engines, platforms, and marketplaces operating in the E.U. on February 17. But we’re concerned about how the DSA is already being enforced, especially in the context of conflict and crisis. That’s why we’ve responded to the European Commission’s call for feedback on the DSA’s requirements for corporate transparency reports – vital for ensuring the law is enforced in a meaningful, consistent, and harmonized way. Read our feedback. Read more via European Commission

GDPR: European Parliament must guarantee procedural rights to ensure people’s data protection

As we finalized this newsletter, we heard that the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee had just approved the text of a law intended to harmonize enforcement of the almost six-year-old General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While this is a step toward ensuring people across the E.U. can exercise their data protection rights, major gaps remain. The text is “vague and contradictory,” warns Access Now’s Chiara Manfredini, and will not guarantee that “people have the tools needed to counter the power Big Tech has over them.” Read more via Access Now

Meta, we need to talk

Meta must refrain from censoring criticism of Zionism

This week, Access Now joined with +70 other civil society organizations to warn Meta against expanding its hate speech policy regarding the term “Zionist." Our concern: the policy could mischaracterize any and all conversations about Zionists, or the political ideology of Zionism, as inherently antisemitic – undermining efforts to dismantle real antisemitism and other forms of racism and extremism online. Join us: tell Meta not to interpret “Zionist” as a proxy for “Jewish,” and instead implement policy changes that will create a safer, more equal space for dialogue. Read more via Access Now

Meta turns its back on politics again, angering some news creators

With the “year of elections” now well underway, Meta has announced that it will no longer proactively recommend political content or “social commentary” on users’ Instagram Feeds or its new text based app, Threads. This won’t stop people from following the political accounts or engaging with political content on other accounts, but it could have unintended consequences for news creators seeking to reach broader audiences, including those who already face systematic silencing. Read more via Washington Post

Cybercrime: no steps forward, two steps back?

Civil society warns of “critical gaps” in UN's draft cybercrime treaty

Delegates at the UN failed to reach an agreement last week on a flawed draft cybercrime convention that threatens to legitimize harmful surveillance, undermine human rights, and harm security researchers and whistleblowers worldwide. But we’re not out of the woods yet. The talks have been suspended for now, but the danger remains that the draft will be advanced by the end of the 79th session of the UN General Assembly – without much-needed reforms. Learn how you can help push back. Read more via VOA

We can have nice things!

European Court of Human Rights stands up for encryption

In a major win for digital rights, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled in the Podchasov v. Russia case, finding that forcing messaging platform Telegram to decrypt users’ messages is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, conflicts with the right to respect for private life, and cannot be considered “necessary in a democratic society.” Read more via Access Now

Opportunities and other highlights

Join us!

If you're energized by our global mission and want to help defend and extend digital rights, good news: we have six exciting openings. We're seeking a Director of Policy and International Programs (based anywhere), a Communications and Media Manager (based anywhere, with preference for UTC+1 through UTC-5 time zones), a UN Advocacy Legal Intern (New York, hybrid), a Grantmaking Operations Manager (based anywhere, hybrid), a Grants and Contracts Accounting Manager (NYC, remote), and an In-House Legal Intern (Washington, DC, or NYC, hybrid). Learn more and apply! Learn more via Access Now

REGISTER: “Global Symposium on Technology-facilitated Gender-based Violence”

From February 20-22, join the 2nd online Global Symposium on Technology-facilitated Gender-based Violence (TF GBV), supported by UNFPA and Australia's eSafety Commissioner, and featuring experts including Marwa Fatafa, MENA Policy at Advocacy Director at Access Now. Register here. Learn more via Equality Now

APPLY: 2024 Global Gathering now accepting applications!

Team CommUNITY’s annual Global Gathering brings together global digital rights networks to collaborate, brainstorm, and share knowledge. Apply to join this year’s event in Estoril, Portugal, from September 27 to 29. Learn more via Team CommUNITY