Access Now


“You cannot do mass surveillance privately, full stop”

This week, EU lawmakers were supposed to vote on a law to force messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal to scan encrypted messages, as a measure to fight child sexual abuse online. This proposal is not only incompatible with the right to privacy, it threatens everyone’s safety and security, including children. After lawmakers and civil society spoke out, the vote was canceled at the last minute. But encryption is still under threat, in Europe and elsewhere. Signal President Meredith Whittaker explains why putting “lipstick” on mass surveillance won't help anyone. Read more via The Guardian

How Gaza keeps it on

The ingenious “network tree” defying Gaza's connectivity blockade

In Gaza, staying connected demands Herculean effort. Since October 2023, Israeli forces have heavily bombarded civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including telecommunications infrastructure, and have reportedly targeted and killed people attempting to access services. Global Voices looks at how grassroots activists are finding ways around the frequent internet blackouts, such as setting up networks of smartphones equipped with eSIM technology near the Egypt-Gaza border. Read more via Global Voices

To protect women, defend digital rights

Abortion groups say tech companies suppress posts and accounts

Across the United States, women’s health groups and reproductive rights activists report that they are being censored online, leaving women unable to access vital healthcare information. A new Amnesty International report reveals that since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, some social media companies have consistently removed or flagged abortion-related content, without explaining why. Often, the content is related to medical or non-surgical abortions, which account for more than half the abortions in the U.S. Read more via The New York Times

Female health apps aren’t doing enough to protect sensitive data, study says

Many women and girls use health apps to track and monitor their health, including menstrual cycles. But in a post-Roe U.S., and in the absence of federal privacy legislation, these companies need to do more to protect their users’ data, a new study shows. Analysis of 20 popular female apps used in the U.S. and UK revealed contradictory policies on sharing data with third parties, with user data accessible to law enforcement in several cases. Read more via Euronews

We call on the U.S. FTC to put privacy protections in place

Along with more than 30 other organizations, Access Now is urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to move forward with the Commercial Surveillance and Data Security Rulemaking, first announced in 2022. As the coalition underscores in our joint letter, U.S. states are already prosecuting abortion seekers and providers, based on “data collected from the WiFi-enabled devices we use, the web based platforms we interact with, and the surveillance networks tracking our every move.” We can’t wait any longer. The FTC must act now to rein in data-hungry practices that put people’s rights and safety at risk. Read more via FFTF

Human rights, on the move

How data agreements and technologies violate the privacy of migrants and people in transit (in Spanish)

Honduran media outlet Contra Corriente covers our efforts to find out what U.S. law enforcement and federal agencies are doing with the data and biometrics of people who cross the U.S. border seeking safety. In an interview, Access Now’s Ángela Alarcón explains what prompted our legal complaint against the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies. Read and watch in Spanish. Read more via Contra Corriente

ICYMI: Primer on defending the rights of refugees and migrants in the digital age

#RefugeeWeek is a good time to remind people that digital rights are for everyone — including those fleeing their home countries for safety and security. Amnesty International’s primer explains how digital technologies and systems deployed by the U.S., UK, and EU threaten these rights. Read more via EU Amnesty International

Defending the defenders

Civil society unveils new supplement to UN declaration protecting human rights defenders

It’s been 25 years since the UN adopted a Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and it’s overdue for an update. This week the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) launched Declaration+25, which supplements the declaration and sets 21st-century standards for protecting human rights defenders. Access Now strongly supports this effort, and we’re proud that Executive Director Brett Solomon has endorsed it. Read more via ISHR

How Russia watches you

READ: “State of surveillance”

A new study by the digital rights organization RKS Group looks at how the Russian government conducts online surveillance. Among the key findings: Russia carries out indiscriminate mass surveillance of citizens and foreigners alike, including migrant workers, and its lack of regulations to protect people’s biometric data enables authorities to blur the boundaries between online and offline surveillance. Read more via RKS Group

Opportunities and other highlights

APPLY: Privacy and Human Rights Award

Together with Global Privacy Assembly, we’re excited to announce that nominations for the inaugural Privacy and Human Rights Award are now open! This award will recognize organizations doing exemplary work at the intersection of privacy, data protection, and human rights. If your organization fits that description, or you know one that does, nominate them here before September 1 (you can also make the nomination in French or Spanish). Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner during RightsCon 2025! Read more via Global Privacy Assembly

LEARN: A community network DIY toolkit? Yes, please!

Want to build a local network to bring internet access to your community, but don’t know where to begin? The Internet Society has you covered with their new DIY toolkit. Read more via ISOC

REGISTER: “Internet shutdowns, and how to stop them”

Ready to take the fight against internet shutdowns to the next level? Join Access Now and the Internet Society next Tuesday, June 25, at 1pm-2pm UTC, to hear Access Now’s Natalia Krapiva and experts from the Internet Society and Columbia Global Freedom of Expression talk about collaborative projects aimed at tracking, reporting, and putting an end to internet shutdowns for good. Register via ISOC