Helpline Terms of Service

Access Now Digital Security Helpline Terms of Service

Last Updated: July 28, 2020

User Agreement

By using information and services provided by Access Now, the Access Now Digital Security Helpline (“Helpline”), and any Access Now staff or our authorized agents, you agree to the following terms of service. For information on how we collect and protect your data, please find Access Now’s Data Notice here.

Responsibilities of the Helpline

The Helpline team offers real-time, direct technical assistance and advice to activists, independent media, and civil society organizations, free of charge.

The Helpline may require personally identifiable information, such as details to your computing system or website, or request access to your devices and their contents, which may also include third party information, to provide its services. The Helpline only requests data necessary to fulfill its purpose of providing direct technical assistance, and will take best effort measures to protect the data it stores or has access to.

The Helpline will only share personally identifiable information with other parts of the Access Now team, such as Legal or Advocacy staff, or with trusted partners, when necessary to solve issues on which the client requests assistance.

The Helpline reserves the right to share anonymized information about digital security trends with other parts of the Access Now team, trusted partners, or as a part of public reporting, in order to improve our effectiveness and confront emerging threats to civil society around the world.

Vetting and Mandate of Services

At the beginning of an engagement with the Helpline, Access Now staff conduct a vetting and mandate check process to ensure that the case fits within the services we can provide and to reduce the risk to the Helpline and its clients. Access Now may reject a request for support or decline to deliver further services if, in our sole determination:

  • The individual or organization seeking assistance is not a member of the civil society;
  • The type of assistance required or requested does not fall within the range of services the Helpline can provide;
  • The request exposes Access Now staff or partners to an unacceptable risk of physical, digital, or other attacks;
  • The request poses an unacceptable risk to Access Now’s reputation or interests.

The Helpline reserves the right to re-evaluate any client at any point after the initial vetting is conducted. Providing initial support does not guarantee the provision of further service pursuant to future requests.

Responsibilities of Helpline Clients

By using Helpline services, Helpline clients agree not to engage in the following behaviors:

  • Illegal, unethical, violent, or immoral activity;
  • Disrespectful language or behavior;
  • Threatening behavior;
  • Purposeful misinformation;
  • Breaches of confidentiality;
  • Code of Conduct violations.

Access Now strives to protect the confidentiality of your information, and we ask that you likewise respect the privacy of our Helpline staff and work. You hereby agree not to mention the name of, describe, or otherwise refer to Access Now, the Helpline, or the Helpline staff, in relation to any technical services or advice you have received from Access Now and/or the Helpline, for the purposes of being published or posted in any public medium or forum, including, but not limited to, any newspaper, magazine, online blog, social media post, petition, or legal filing.

Any such publication may endanger the safety and security of our staff and, therefore, requires express written consent of the Helpline. Please contact [email protected] to request such consent. We appreciate your assistance.

Failure to adhere to the appropriate conduct and/or confidentiality requirements may lead to any of the following consequences:

  • Issuance of a warning;
  • Temporary suspension of access to Helpline services;
  • Termination of Helpline services; or
  • Termination of access to all of Access Now’s services and activities.

Technical Tools

Access Now provides a tailored service through its Helpline, which means we need to understand the specific needs of the client, and offer specialized assistance on a case-by-case basis. Often, during the course of providing assistance to our clients, our Helpline staff will recommend specific technical tools (“Tools”) intended to mitigate or manage security risks. Part of our tailored service is to recommend the Tools that are most appropriate for the client, depending on their threat model and their specific needs, as a result of our initial evaluation. We need to assess and understand the threats the client is facing, and evaluate how we can respond. However, for the purposes of sharing information with the public, we have provided lists of some Tools that our Helpline staff have used or may use to facilitate our services.

Please note that certain Tools are accompanied by warnings that attempt to identify some of the potential risks associated with the use of that Tool. Do not treat the lack of a warning as a wholehearted endorsement of that Tool. Where possible, we encourage everyone to review each Tool and the accompanying documentation found on that particular Tool’s website to ensure the use of that Tool is suitable for each individual’s unique circumstances. If you would like to contribute to our documentation or flag security issues with our current recommendations, please do so through our gitlab repository.

Access Now makes no warranty whatsoever with respect to the particular Tools listed on our website(s), including any (a) warranty or condition of merchantability; (b) warranty or condition of fitness for a particular purpose; or (c) warranty against infringement of intellectual property rights of a third party; whether express or implied and whether arising by law, course of dealing, course of performance, usage of trade or otherwise. Neither Access Now, the Helpline, nor any other person acting on Access Now’s behalf, have made or makes any express or implied representation or warranty, either written or oral, including any representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information regarding the Tools listed or otherwise made available to any visitor to our website(s), or potential user of the Tools listed on our website(s).


Access Now information and services are provided “as-is,” with all faults, and without a guarantee or warranty of any kind, whether express or implied. Though we intend to provide the best possible service and expert technical guidance, we cannot guarantee that the information or services we provide are completely accurate or reliable, or will meet all user’s requirements, or be uninterrupted, timely, secure, or error free. You understand and expressly agree (1) to use our information and services at your sole risk, (2) that any material, software, information and/or data downloaded or otherwise obtained through Access Now is at your own discretion, and (3) that you are solely responsible for damage to your computer system, loss of data, or any other harms that may result from the download or use of such material, information and/or data, including to third parties. Access Now also does not provide any guarantee or warranty of any kind, whether express or implied, for services provided by third parties as a result of our recommendations or referrals.

Limitation of Liabilities

Access Now will not be liable for damages of any kind resulting from the use of or the inability to use our information and services, including to third parties. In particular, we are not liable for the loss of, unauthorized access to, or alteration of a user’s transmissions or data or for the cost of procurement of substitute information, goods, and services, including but not limited to damages for loss of profits, use, data or other intangibles, even if Access Now or any of its authorized agents had been advised of the possibility of such damages or were negligent.

Agreement Terms

If any provision of this Agreement is declared invalid or unenforceable, the remaining provisions of this Agreement will remain in effect. We will post notice of any changes to these terms at least thirty (30) days before they are implemented.

The Helpline’s services are not intended for, or designed to attract, individuals under the age of majority pursuant to applicable law, or those persons under the age of 18. We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from any person under the age of majority pursuant to applicable law, or those persons under the age of 18.

Updates and Contact: We will archive all versions of these Terms of Service and provide links on this page. Let us know of any questions, comments, or concerns at [email protected].