AI ethics

Marianne Díaz Hernández declared “Hero” for advocating against Maduro government’s surveillance and censorship


Today, Access Now announces its selection of Marianne Díaz Hernández, a Venezuelan lawyer, writer, and human rights activist, as a recipient of this year’s Human Rights Heroes Award. Díaz Hernández is recognized for providing important research and leading advocacy efforts against invasive measures taken by the Maduro government in Venezuela. Her work has highlighted issues from data retention to censorship.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will present the award to Díaz Hernández, as well as this year’s four other winners, at RightsCon Tunis (June 11-14, 2019).

As a native Venezuelan, Díaz Hernández’s work has been critical to properly understanding the impact of surveillance and information control in local context, in an environment where supporting the opposition can be cause for the government to restrict rations of food and medicine and access to basic services.

Looking regionally, Díaz Hernández authored “El Cuerpo Como Dato,” an examination of the use of biometric technologies to track people in Latin America, calling for a broader conversation about what protections are necessary.

Díaz Hernández is the founder of Venezuelan NGO Acceso Libre and works as a public policy analyst for the NGO Derechos Digitales.

About the Award

We live in an era where rapid developments in digital surveillance threaten to erode universal human rights, such as our right to privacy, freedom of expression and association. In 2013, several NGOs, criminal attorneys, human rights and privacy advocates worked together to introduce 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles. Signed by 600 organizations and 300,000 individuals, the Principles provide a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws are compatible with human rights.

In celebration of these principles and the work of people around the globe to protect human rights in the digital age, every year Access Now names “heroes” and “villains” who have either protected the principles of freedom online or worked to undermine them.

Previous heroes recognized by Access Now include UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, Professor Kyung-Sin Park, and Supreme Court of Justice of India Rohinton Nariman. Read more about this year’s Heroes here.