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Access Now
AccessNow Logo.png
RightsCon 2019 conference venue in Tunis.
A room hosting a RightsCon session organized by Access Now in 2019.

Access Now is an international non-profit, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free Internet.

Access Now has championed a number of digital rights issues since it was founded in 2009, with an emphasis on five major policy areas: Digital Security, Freedom of Expression, Privacy, Net Discrimination, and Business and Human Rights.[1] The organization has campaigned against internet shutdowns,[2] online censorship,[3] international trade agreements,[4] and government surveillance.[5] Access Now has also supported Net Neutrality,[6] the use of encryption,[7] and thoughtful cybersecurity laws and regulations.[8] Access Now's campaigns target various stakeholders in support of its mission, including governments[9] or technology companies.[10] It also engages with telecommunications companies on a variety of issues, such as transparency reporting.[11]

Access Now's Digital Security Helpline offers real-time, direct assistance and advice to activists, independent media and civil society organizations.[12] The organization also runs the annual conference RightsCon, a multistakeholder event that features participants from civil society, tech companies, and users at risk.[13] The conference was first held in Silicon Valley in 2011, followed by events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2012), Silicon Valley (2014), Manila, Philippines (2015), and Silicon Valley (2016),[14] thus alternating between Silicon Valley and a key city in the Global South.[15] After being held in Brussels and Toronto, RightsCon 2019 took place in Tunis, Tunisia (11-14 June) and the 2020 will be held in San José, costa Rica.[16]

Access Now is a member of the network, an organization of nonprofits which specializes in the general establishment of Tor anonymity network exit nodes via workshops and donations.[17]

Access Now's former Advocacy Director, Katherine Maher, was named the Executive Director of Wikimedia in June 2016.[18] The organization was a finalist for the European Union's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2010.[19]


Access Now's mission is to defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world. By combining innovative policy, user engagement, and direct technical support, Access Now fights for open and secure communications for all.[20]


Access Now is a team of 40, with local staff in more than 10 locations around the world -- Berlin, Brussels, Cordoba, Delhi, London, Manila, Nairobi, New York, San Jose, Tunis, and Washington D.C. The organization maintains four legally incorporated entities -- Belgium, Costa Rica, Tunisia, and the United States -- with its tech, advocacy, policy, granting, and operations teams distributed across all regions.[21]

The Access Now Board is composed of president Andrew McLaughlin, treasurer Yvette Albderdingk Thijm, Esra'a Al Shafei, Ronaldo Lemos, Andrew Cohen, and secretary Brett Solomon, a co-founder and the executive director of Access Now.[20]

As of 2018, Access Now received approximately $5.1 million in funding.[22]


Access Now was founded by Brett Solomon and Cameran Ashraf in 2009, after the contested Iranian presidential election of that year.[23] During the protests that followed this election, Access Now played a noted role in disseminating the video footage which came out of Iran.[23]


  1. ^ "About Us - Access Now". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  2. ^ Farrell, Paul. "Human rights groups condemn Nauru's criminalisation of political protest". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  3. ^ "Blog | Access". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  4. ^ "Blog | Access". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  5. ^ Solomon, Brett (2016-05-11). "This Arcane Rule Change Would Give U.S. Law Enforcement New Power to Hack People Worldwide". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  6. ^ "Europe prepares to enforce its take on net neutrality". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  7. ^ "Encrypt All The Things". Archived from the original on 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  8. ^ "What Congress Can Do About Cybersecurity If CISA Fails". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  9. ^ "One more chance to stop mass surveillance in France!". Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  10. ^ "Reinstate Politwoops accounts, global rights groups say". Fortune. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  11. ^ "Transparency Reporting Index | Access". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  12. ^ "Tech | Access". Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  13. ^ "RightsCon Summit Series". Archived from the original on 2015-09-12. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  14. ^ "RightsCon Summit Series". Archived from the original on 2015-09-12. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  15. ^ "RightsCon Summit Series". Archived from the original on 2015-09-12. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  16. ^ "Home - RightsCon Summit Series". RightsCon Summit Series. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  17. ^ Steele, Sharon (2016-12-03). "Tor at the Heart:".
  18. ^ "Foundation Board appoints Katherine Maher as Executive Director – Wikimedia blog". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  19. ^ Sakharov Prize 2010 - 9 nominations, retrieved 2015-04-30
  20. ^ a b "Access Now About". Access Now. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  21. ^ "Staff | Access". Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  22. ^ "Funding | Access". Archived from the original on 2019-07-23. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  23. ^ a b "#iranelection: The digital media response to the 2009 Iranian election". Retrieved 2013-05-18.