Announcing the Third Annual “Heroes & Villains” of Human Rights and Global Surveillance

Heroes include: Microsoft’s Brad Smith, Marc Zwillinger, Gerard Adriaan “Ard” van der Steur (Dutch minister of security and justice), and Henricus Gregorius Jozeph “Henk” Kamp (Dutch minister of economic affairs)

Villains include: Prime Minister Theresa May, Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba, and U.S. Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr.

Washington D.C. (September 22, 2016) — Access Now today announced our annual “Heroes and Villains.” The recognition is based on the 13 International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. We recognize the individuals and groups that have either been champions of the 13 internationally recognized principles (“Heroes”), or have undermined or violated those principles (“Villains”) in the last year. The recognition coincides with the third anniversary of the adoption of the Principles.

See the full list here. The work of our Heroes will be featured in upcoming issues of the Access Express, our global digital rights newsletter.

Three years ago today, hundreds of international organizations came together to adopt the “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance.” Now endorsed by more than 600 groups, the Principles serve to inform the public debate on the appropriate limits of government surveillance. They speak to a growing global consensus that government communications surveillance has gone too far and needs to be restrained.

“We congratulate our ‘heroes’ and thank them for working to promote human rights. There are so many people and organizations doing incredible work for the promotion of human rights it was difficult to select just one ‘hero.’ It’s a sad truth that there was much difficulty limiting our ‘villains’ as well. We call out their activities in the past year, but we hold out hope  — and offer our critique  — to help push for a more rights-respecting 2017,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now.