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Ahead of general election, YouTube approves disinformation ads in India

India is home to more people who watch YouTube than any other country. But in our new joint investigation with Global Witness, we discovered that YouTube is approving ads that push allegations of election fraud, lies about who can vote and how, and attacks on religious and minority groups in India. In a highly charged election that is already drowning in digital disinformation, YouTube must act now to correct course. Learn more in English, Hindi, or Telugu. Read more via Access Now

Dig deeper

How we tested YouTube’s election disinformation defenses

Access Now and Global Witness submitted 48 ads to YouTube in three official Indian languages: English, Hindi, and Telugu. Each ad contained content explicitly prohibited by YouTube’s elections misinformation policies, yet they were all accepted. Speaking to TIME, Access Now’s Namrata Maheshwari points out that even the English-language ads were approved. This shows that “the problem is not the language — it’s more also a problem of which countries they’re choosing to focus on,” she says. Read more via TIME

Like, subscribe, and vote: India’s 2024 elections depend on YouTube

YouTube isn’t just enormously popular in India. It’s also influential. From incumbent President Narendra Modi to members of the opposition, politicians and campaigns turn to YouTube to reach voters, often teaming up with popular travel, food, religious, and tech influencers — making it all the more important for the platform to weed out election disinformation. Read more via Rest of World

No one is illegal

Uganda’s court upholds criminalization of LGBTQ+ advocacy

In a severe blow to LGTBQ+ rights in Africa, Uganda’s Constitutional Court has upheld the draconion Anti-Homosexuality Act. The legislation imposes a 20-year prison sentence for “promoting homosexuality,” including publishing LGBTQ+ content online. While the court struck down some of its heinous broad-sweeping provisions – such as a requirement for reporting people suspected of homosexuality to the police – much of it remains intact. The decision will only “embolden further discrimination and violence — people’s rights must be safeguarded on the internet and in the streets,” warns Access Now’s Jaimee Kokonya. Read more via Access Now

Ghana's LGBTQ+ terror: “We live in fear of snitches”

In Ghana, authorities are still trying to push through a ban on LGBTQ+ activity, advocacy, and identities, online and off. BBC News talks to LGBTQ+ Ghanaians about how the law would impact their lives, increasing the risk of violence and harm they already face. We repeat our call to President Nana Akufo-Addo: reject this dangerous law, and protect human rights for all people. Read more via BBC News

What threats have you faced that target LGBTQ+ communities in Africa?

In Africa and around the world, LGBTQ+ people face specific threats online, from entrapment and doxxing, to harassment and arbitrary arrest. We want to hear from the people directly affected, to help inform our work pushing back against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. If you’re based in Africa and have experienced digital threats due to your gender identity or sexual orientation, consider taking this anonymized survey. Read more via Access Now

Raising the bar for AI regulations

The UN gets the world to agree on AI safety

It’s imperative that AI systems comply with human rights. Last month, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that explicitly calls for such compliance. That’s an achievement we shouldn’t take for granted, says Access Now’s Daniel Leufer. “Getting the message across that there are uses of AI that are just incompatible with human rights and cannot be permitted was a battle, and it is good to see that enshrined in something at this level with the level of consensus,” he says. At the same time, Leufer warns, governments may not follow up with sufficiently robust AI regulations, since reaching agreement on the resolution entailed establishing the “lowest agreeable bar” for protecting our rights. Read more via Foreign Policy

“Lavender”: The AI machine directing Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza

There are no mentions of military applications of AI in the UN resolution; they were purposely excluded. Yet we continue to see the deployment of AI-enabled weapons of war, a direct threat to human rights. A new investigation by +972 Magazine and Local Call reveals that the Israeli military is allegedly using an AI system called “Lavender” to designate thousands of Palestinians suspected militants and mark their homes for airstrikes. According to intelligence sources for the investigation, human review of Lavender’s decisions is nearly non-existent, with personnel devoting only 20 seconds to “rubber-stamping” strikes. Read more via +972 Magazine

E.U.’s AI Act fails to set gold standard for human rights

We can do better. That’s the message civil society delivers in a new analysis of the E.U. AI Act published this week by European Digital Rights (EDRi). Learn why the legislation fails human rights and why Access Now and our partners will continue to push for the strongest possible implementation of the law across the E.U. Read more via EDRi

Our bodies, our digital rights

READ: “Digital disparities: the global battle for reproductive rights on social media”

A new report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and MSI Reproductive Choices reveals that in countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Meta restricts access to information about contraception and abortion services, while approving ads containing abortion-related disinformation. According to the report, 187 anti-choice ads, mostly paid for by foreign anti-abortion lobbying groups, were viewed more than eight million times. Read more via CCDH

CVS and Walgreens must protect patient privacy and medical records

U.S. pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens will soon start selling abortion pill mifepristone. But these chains have reportedly previously shared patients’ health data with law enforcement without a warrant. We joined Fight for the Future (FFTF) and other civil society organizations in an open letter urging CVS and Walgreens to protect patient privacy and medical records. Join us: sign the FFTF petition. Read more via Fight for the Future

Opportunities and other highlights

APPLY: We’re hiring a Director — People and Culture

Are you a human resources professional eager to advance our mission of defending and extending the digital rights of people and communities at-risk? We’re looking for a new Director — People and Culture to support our global team and help shape a strong and inclusive organizational culture. If this sounds like your cup of tea, check out the job description and apply. Read more via Access Now

LEARN: A tool to track businesses' respect for human rights defenders

Around the world, human rights defenders (HRDs) face intimidation, harassment, and violence, sometimes fatal, in the course of their work. Businesses have a duty to protect HRDs from these attacks. To help clarify what businesses should do, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) has launched a set of indicators for assessing and monitoring a company’s efforts to keep HRDs safe. Learn more via ISHR