AI ethics

Mohammed al-Maskati declared “Hero” for defending human rights through digital security training in the MENA Region

Today, Access Now announces its selection of Bahraini activist and digital security consultant Mohammed Al-Maskati as a recipient of this year’s Human Rights Heroes Award. Al-Maskati is recognized for his outstanding efforts to defend human rights by providing digital security training to human rights defenders and vulnerable groups throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

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

Those who have worked with Al-Maskati credit him for not only keeping their information secure, but in several cases actually saving lives through his interventions. Al-Maskati’s work has resulted in the development of products and instruction manuals in Arabic, an issue too often ignored by software and app developers. Having access to Arabic-language training material allows human rights activists in one of the world’s most oppressive regions to be able to avoid government surveillance and retaliation.

In 2018, Al-Maskati launched, a website to “provide advice on protecting individuals and organizations in the digital world and the Internet.” He is also the founder of a rapid response team available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help resolve digital attacks as they happen in real time.

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.