Access Now

We defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world.
Access Now

ORGANIZATION SUMMARY

Access Now, formed in 2009, envisions a borderless internet that benefits people all across the globe.
Access Now
Access Now Overview ‧ read
For many users, defending internet rights is about keeping things the way they are. We have experienced an open, neutral, and uncensored internet. So when we fight for our digital rights, we fight to preserve them, not improve them.

But what about people in countries where the internet is already censored? Who’s fighting for their cause?

Access Now, that’s who.

No Access back then: It started in Iran

Access Now was founded shortly after the controversial Iranian presidential election of 2009. American-Iranian activist Cameran Ashraf, with help from Avaaz.org campaign director Brett Solomon, saw how people in Iran were using the borderless internet to make their voices heard across the world. Ashraf and Solomon recognized the power of the free internet to help “mass social movements coordinate and communicate effectively.”

The pair then began working with existing digital rights projects to create a new movement for digital freedom: Access Now.

The internet freedom movement grows

Ashraf and Solomon’s idea was clearly a powerful one. Access Now has grown rapidly, and in 2016 was running offices in Belgium (Brussels), Costa Rica (San Jose), the Philippines (Manila), Tunisia (Tunis), and the USA (New York and Washington DC). Other staff work remotely for the organization around the globe.

In 2015, Access Now received over $2 million in funding from its supporters, which included the Media Democracy Fund, Mozilla, Oxfam, and RightsCon.org.

But how does Access Now use its funds to fight for internet rights?

How Access Now defends and extends internet rights

Access Now works to “defend and extend” digital rights through its work in five different areas.

Business and human rights: Access Now urges companies to make their “practices more transparent, accountable, and rights-respecting,” and has encouraged private citizens to get involved with internet policy. Access Now also speaks out when governments, such as Egypt and Morocco, shut down their internet services. Access Now also advocates net neutrality, especially when it is threatened by cable companies in the U.S. or Facebook in the developing world.

Digital security: The organization also works to ensure private citizens’ “online activities are private, safe, and secure” by providing security guides and a 24/7 Digital Security Helpline. Access Now’s 2016 campaign vowed to “fight for strong encryption, implementing a comprehensive plan to combat internet shutdowns.”

Freedom of expression: Access Now believes that free speech is “critical for demonstrating dissent, guaranteeing a free press, and defending human rights.” It has condemned censorship such as Brazil’s block on Whatsapp, Turkey’s YouTube ban, and the threat to Tor in France. Access Now also represents internet users at events like the Internet Governance Forum and has even addressed members of the UN on digital rights.

Net discrimination: Access Now wants a “free and open internet… without favoring certain websites, applications, or services.” Don’t we all? As such, the organization has challenged Facebook on its limiting “free” internet service in India. It also runs RightsCon, which “gathers digital rights activists, companies, government officials, technologists, and academics from all over the world” to forge the right path for an open internet.

Privacy: According to Access Now, privacy is “a cornerstone for human rights in the digital age.” And we couldn’t agree more. The organization is campaigning against privacy threats posed by drones and new legislation, like the European Data Protection Reform Package and U.S. Congress’s recent Cyber Surveillance Bill.

Join the fight at the Access Now Action Center

It’s great that Access Now does so much on behalf of internet users all over the world. But what can you do to help?

The Access Now Action Center is the place to go if you want to join the fight. The Action Center hosts all of Access Now’s live campaigns and activities and invites you to take part. Recent campaigns have invited internet users to demand stronger cryptography and stop France’s excessive surveillance methods.

You can also donate to help Access Now keep its 24/7 Digital Security Helpline running. This helpline provides support to organizers all around the world so they can enhance their digital security practices. The Helpline also provides emergency help to individuals under digital attack.

Be sure subscribe to Access Now’s “action alerts” to stay up to date on its causes.

We need Access Now now more than ever

The world isn’t in the best shape lately. Wars are happening and secret trade deals like the TPP are being pushed through by governments. People in developing countries are being oppressed in their millions.

The internet can be an incredibly powerful tool for fighting back. It gives ordinary people a voice that can be heard all around the world—but only if authorities don’t mess with it.

That’s why the work of Access Now is so important, and that’s why it has ExpressVPN’s full support.