Human rights are universal — including on the internet. However, as the internet reaches more people, governments around the world have developed more ways to find, access, store, and distribute personal information about all of us. To defend our privacy, in 2013 experts identified 13 principles governments must follow to ensure any electronic surveillance program fully respects human rights. They are known as the Necessary and Proportionate Principles.
In celebration of those principles and the work of people around the world to protect digital rights, every year Access Now names a “hero” and a “villain” who has either protected the principles of freedom online or worked to undermine them.
Access Now is in the fourth year of its Annual Heroes and Villains awards, and we’re taking it to the next level. This year we will announce five heroes and five villains who embody the 13 Principles. And our heroes will be invited to join us at RightsCon. We hope to provide travel assistance, and we’re working hard to raise the funds necessary.
Here’s how the process works. You nominate a friend, colleague, or group that has either embodied the spirit of internet freedom or somehow undermined our digital rights. Access Now staff will vet the nominees make the final decision based on six objective criteria*:
- Impact in the field — how has the person’s work had a demonstrable impact on internet freedom and digital rights, either locally, regionally, or globally (positively for the Heroes, or negatively for the Villains)
- Embodiment of the Principles — how have the 13 Principles of human rights and electronics surveillance played a central part of that work
- Diverse representation — do the awardees represent a diverse range of voices and regions
- Connection to users at risk — how has the person’s work impacted those most prone to marginalization
- Value to RightsCon — can we leverage the RightsCon event and community to empower and promote this person even further
- Other factors — what extra oomph does the person have that should be considered
The final heroes and villains will be announced on the Access Now website, in conjunction with the fourth anniversary of the Principles. Our goal will be to empower the heroes and bring attention to the villains. Please note: if you have questions, or you prefer not to use the form below to make nominations, you can send them to us via email at amie @ accessnow.org. We want to hear from you!
*In September, this process was amended to receive feedback from the Executive Director.