Non-profit

Access Now

Location:

Brooklyn, NY

Tax ID:

27-0597430

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $6,163,402
Expenses: $7,108,845
Assets: $3,767,390

Website:

http://www.accessnow.org

Formation:

2013

Type:

Digital Rights and Privacy Advocacy

Executive Director:

Brett Solomon

Access Now is a left-leaning internet access and digital rights advocacy group that works to decrease internet censorship and to curtail violations of privacy by businesses that collect the personal data of internet users. This group receives funding from some of the companies whose data collection practices it criticizes, such as Facebook and Google.

The group’s website claims that it “does not accept funding that compromises its organizational independence, including funding relationships that may influence its priorities, policy positions, advocacy efforts, regions of focus, or direct action work.” Access Now has received funding from tech companies Microsoft, DuckDuckGo, Mozilla, Amazon, and Reddit and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. [1]

Grantees

Since its founding, Access Now has provided more than $2.6 million in grant funding to over 50 left-of-center digital-rights and anti-censorship groups, including LGBT advocacy organizations Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Proud Lebanon, and IraQueer; digital rights group Foundation for Media Alternatives; and communications infrastructure network Association for Progressive Communications. [2]

Activities

Digital Security Helpline

Access Now operates a digital security helpline through which groups being targeted by hacking, data theft, or forcible shutdown can report offenses and receive aid. In February 2017, the University of Toronto’s CitizenLab program published a detailed report highlighting a case in Mexico where obesity researchers and proponents of a local soda tax were targeted by emails with “government-exclusive” Pegasus spyware. [3]

In a similar case, Medium reported that political dissidents in Azerbaijan were targeted using fake email and Facebook messages, sent from accounts designed to mimic the recipients’ actual friends and colleagues. The messages contained keylogger and screenshot viruses. Cyberattack victims were initially referred to Amnesty International by Access Now’s digital security helpline. [4]

“Stop Silencing Palestine”

Access Now has supported Palestinian activism online during a series of disputes with Israel in 2021 through the “Stop Silencing Palestine” campaign. [5] On May 7, 2021, following Israeli police storming the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Compound religious site in Jerusalem in response to alleged stone-throwing by Arab militants, Instagram blocked hashtags containing the mosque’s name. Instagram later stated that this was in error and that the mosque was incorrectly labeled as a dangerous organization. [6]

A few days later, on May 11, Twitter restricted the account of Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian-American writer who alleged violence by Israeli police against Palestinian protesters. Twitter later lifted the restriction and stated that this, too, was an error. [7]

On May 13, The Intercept published a leaked internal Facebook policy document showing when to delete posts containing the word “Zionist,” a reference to the ideology that the Jewish people should exercise sovereignty over a state in the Holy Land (in practice, modern Israel); anti-Semites often refer to opposing Zionism to evade restrictions on spreading openly anti-Jewish material. Facebook responded that “[w]e allow critical discussion of Zionists, but remove attacks against them when context suggests the word is being used as a proxy for Jews or Israelis, both of which are protected characteristics under our hate speech policy,” and that the posts were deleted by “human error.” [8]

The Stop Silencing Palestine campaign, of which Access Now is a member, demanded a public audit of Facebook and asked for transparency about the company’s automated process for content moderation related to Palestinian issues. It also called on Facebook to publish the list of organizations it had labelled “terrorist,” or “extremist.” [9]

FTC Petition

Access Now launched an online petition supporting Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in their call for greater regulation of social media and data companies by the Federal Trade Commission to stop them from “slurping up vast swaths of information” about internet users. The campaign boasts the support of several Democratic U.S. Senators. [10] [11]

#Why ID

Access Now is a participant in the #WhyID campaign, which opposes the implementation of a global, centralized digital identification system. Participants in this campaign have signed a letter to the United Nations, national governments, and international aid organizations questioning the necessity of global identification systems. Voicing concerns about private companies being allowed access and profit from private identification systems, the letter goes on to state that “current justifications for these programs are often theoretical, and programmes are deployed without sufficient supportive evidence of the promised benefits…these programmes can create the risk of 360 degree profiling and surveillance of users by governments and private actors.” Other signatories of the letter include Human Rights Watch, Electronic Frontier Foundation, literary advocacy group PEN America, and the Immigrant Defense Project. [12]

#KeepitOn

The #KeepitOn campaign was launched in 2016 to prevent governments from disabling internet access to curb civil unrest. Working in tandem with the Digital Security Helpline project, this project aims to form a coalition of groups monitoring, documenting, and whistleblowing; membership is not automatic and coalition members must apply. Access Now partners with the Digital Rights Litigators Network and has brought legal actions during internet shutdowns in Cameroon, Indonesia, Togo, and Kashmir. [13]

Leadership

Brett Solomon, executive director and co-founder of Access Now, is the former campaign director of left-of-center online pressure group Avaaz Foundation. He is also the former executive director of GetUp!, an Australian left-progressive political activist group. [14]

References

  1. “Financials.” Access Now. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.accessnow.org/financials/ ^
  2. “Grantees By Year.” Access Now. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.accessnow.org/grantees-by-year/ ^
  3. Scott-Railton, John et al. “Bitter Sweet.” Citizen Lab. February 11, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://citizenlab.ca/2017/02/bittersweet-nso-mexico-spyware/ ^
  4. Amnesty Global Insights. “False Friends: How Fake Accounts and Crude Malware Targeted Dissidents in Azerbaijan.” Medium. March 9, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://medium.com/amnesty-insights/false-friends-how-fake-accounts-and-crude-malware-targeted-dissidents-in-azerbaijan-9b6594cafe60 ^
  5. Access Now. “Stop Silencing Palestine.” StopSilencingPalestine.org. Accessed November 15, 2021.  https://stopsilencingpalestine.com/ ^
  6. Access Now. “Stop Silencing Palestine.” StopSilencingPalestine.org. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://stopsilencingpalestine.com/ ^
  7. Maiberg, Emanuel. “Twitter Said it Restricted Palestinian Writer’s Account by Accident.” Vice. May 11, 2021. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.vice.com/en/article/qj8b4x/twitter-said-it-restricted-palestinian-writers-account-by-accident ^
  8. Biddle, Sam. “Facebook’s Secret Rules About the Word ‘Zionist’ Impede the Criticism of Israel.” The Intercept. May 14, 2014. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://theintercept.com/2021/05/14/facebook-israel-zionist-moderation/ ^
  9. Access Now. “Stop Silencing Palestine.” StopSilencingPalestine.org. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://stopsilencingpalestine.com/ ^
  10. “Tell U.S. FTC: Time to Shut down Big Tech’s Business Model.” Access Now. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://act.accessnow.org/page/93093/petition/1 ^
  11. “Markey Joins Blumenthal, Colleagues Call for Historic FTC Rulemaking.” Markey.Senate.gov. September 20, 2021. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/markey-joins-blumenthal-colleagues-call-for-historic-ftc-rulemaking-on-consumer-privacy-civil-rights-and-cyber-security-safeguards ^
  12. “#WhyID.” Access Now. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.accessnow.org/whyid/ ^
  13. “#KeepitOn: Frequently Asked Questions.” Access Now. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.accessnow.org/keepiton-faq/ ^
  14. “Brett Solomon.” Linkedin. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/brett-solomon-32a7b337 ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 2013

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $6,163,402 $7,108,845 $3,767,390 $1,439,541 N $5,170,787 $1,146,734 $3,579 $354,401 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $6,749,927 $5,842,898 $4,581,033 $350,047 N $6,029,873 $871,375 $1,013 $174,461 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $7,030,713 $4,891,686 $4,097,204 $771,909 N $6,323,353 $321,464 $350 $132,804 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $4,905,042 $4,335,857 $1,479,015 $292,747 N $4,763,403 $168,326 $0 $140,455 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $3,338,316 $3,208,400 $1,017,262 $400,179 N $3,260,369 $79,875 $0 $133,023 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,030,386 $2,892,307 $681,172 $194,005 N $1,957,517 $100,817 $0 $151,518 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,781,467 $1,561,158 $1,484,451 $135,363 N $2,774,920 $0 $0 $98,886 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,257,124 $1,289,986 $201,422 $72,643 N $1,251,433 $3,781 $0 $96,517 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,145,753 $1,014,115 $260,419 $98,778 N $1,120,307 $19,937 $0 $106,852
    2010 Dec Form 990 $465,925 $438,429 $113,567 $83,834 N $466,141 $0 $0 $69,881 PDF

    Access Now

    463 Lincoln Place #241
    Brooklyn, NY 11238-6201