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First-time culprit: France blocks TikTok in New Caledonia

Last month, protests erupted in the French territory of New Caledonia over plans to expand the voting rights of French residents, a move indigenous leaders see as an attempt to dilute their influence. French authorities responded by imposing a state-of-emergency order and blocked TikTok for two weeks. Under the #KeepItOn coalition’s definition, this counts as an internet shutdown — the first in our records imposed by France, a member of the Freedom Online Coalition. Read our new FAQ to learn how civil society responded to this shameful development, and what it means for the global trend of shutdowns in democracies. Read more via Access Now

Spotlight on shutdowns 

The dangerous rise of platform blocks

Our latest #KeepItOn report documents how authorities around the world are increasingly blocking communications platforms based on flawed reasoning — even as they position themselves as champions of free expression. Last year, there were 53 blocks, up from 39 the year before. This not only sets a dangerous precedent for governments seeking to justify tighter control over the internet, it disproportionately impacts people who are already at risk of rights violations. To learn more, read the global snapshot or full report. Read more via Access Now

#KeepItOn: Syria must end internet shutdowns during national exams

While civil unrest is a frequent catalyst for authorities to hit the internet kill switch, exams are too often another. As part of our #NoExamShutdown campaign, Access Now, SMEX, the Internet Society, and other members of the #KeepItOn coalition are urging Syrian authorities to make this the year they end the harmful practice of imposing internet shutdowns during exams, and explore approaches to preventing cheating that do not negatively impact entire populations. Read more via Access Now

The EU: spies, lies, and allies

Press associations demand end to use of spyware against journalists in Europe

Following our joint investigation with the Citizen Lab revealing new Pegasus spyware attacks against journalists and activists within the EU, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) each released statements demanding government action. “Any surveillance of journalists is a serious violation of media freedom,” warned IPI’s Oliver Money-Kyrle, while CPJ’s Gulnoza Said underscored the necessity of “an immediate moratorium on the development, sale, and use of spyware technologies.” Read more via IPI

Ticked off: TikTok approves EU elections disinformation ads for publication in Ireland

Across the EU’s 27 member states, voting is underway for the next Members of the European Parliament. In a new election disinformation stress test, Global Witness submitted 16 ads to YouTube, X, and TikTok, targeted to Ireland. The ads contained content prohibited by both the platforms themselves and EU-wide rules. While X and YouTube rejected most of the ads, TikTok approved all 16. Read more via Global Witness

The climate cost of AI

The ugly truth behind ChatGPT: AI is guzzling resources at planet-eating rates

As the world marks World Environment Day, and tech companies tout AI as a tool to tackle the climate emergency, researchers are tabulating the climate cost of cloud-based technologies, including AI. It’s estimated, for instance, that Chat GPT queries require 10 times the electricity of traditional Google search queries. In an op-ed for The Guardian, Professor Mariana Mazzucato makes a powerful argument for greater transparency from tech companies about how they plan to meet climate goals in one area (e.g., divesting from fossil fuels) without undermining others (e.g., excessive water consumption). Read more via The Guardian

U.S tech giants are building dozens of data centers in Chile. Locals are fighting back

Who would approve the construction of 28 data centers – which consume huge amounts of water – in the middle of a drought? Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, that’s who. But as Rest of World reports, Chilean environmental activists aren’t taking the decision lying down. Learn how they’re pushing back against Amazon, Google, and Microsoft’s “water-guzzling” data centers. Read more via Rest of World

Watching the watchers

Borderzine: Surveillance technology at the U.S.-Mexico border

People who enter the U.S. to flee violence and oppression are disproportionately surveilled, often in secret and with very little transparency over what happens to their data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has conducted field research to help people at the border confront and resist surveillance in their communities. Here’s what they discovered about what to watch out for. Read now via EFF

ICYMI: digital rights in MENA

Hello from the MENA team!

Earlier this week we published a special Arabic-language issue of this newsletter, highlighting the impact of internet shutdowns in the Middle East and North Africa (in Arabic), alongside other regional digital rights updates. Read the full issue, and send your ideas for future special issues on specific topics or regions to [email protected]. Read more via Access Now

Opportunities and other highlights

APPLY: Policy & Advocacy Manager - Europe

Access Now is seeking a Europe Policy & Advocacy Manager to lead our team of top-notch digital rights policy experts in Brussels, driving our advocacy agenda at the intersection of human rights and digital technologies. Check out the details and apply. Read more via Access Now

FINAL CALL: RightsCon 2025 Call for Proposals closes today!

Today (June 7) is the last day to send us your session proposals for RightsCon 2025, which will be held in Taipei, Taiwan and online from February 24-27. If you haven’t clicked “submit” on your idea yet, don’t forget to do so before 11:59 p.m. PST! Read more via Access Now

APPLY: FIFAfrica24 Call for Proposals

The 2024 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica24) takes place September 25-27 in Dakar, Senegal – marking the first time the event will be held in Francophone Africa. Hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the summit is accepting session proposals until June 17. Read more via CIPESA