Digital Security Helpline

Visualizing the Digital Security Helpline’s recent impact

Civil society is at the forefront of efforts to keep the internet free and safe, from uplifting dissenting voices, to demanding accountability from those in positions of power. But around the world, these same individuals and groups are surveilled, silenced, and persecuted through the misuse of technology. Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline works to support civil society members at risk, so they can safely and securely continue their work to uphold democracy and human rights. Here are a few highlights of the Helpline’s work in 2023. 

Last year, the Helpline received a total of 3,709 requests for digital security assistance. 

To put this in perspective, the Helpline received 10,000 requests in total between 2014 and 2021, but more than double that number in the three years that followed. 

Helpline Cases

Most (82%) of the cases we dealt with in 2023 were reactive in nature, meaning they related to unfolding incidents or emergencies that required beneficiaries to take rapid measures to strengthen their digital security. The remaining 18% were preventative, whereby beneficiaries preemptively sought out digital security advice, tools, and solutions.

In recent years, the Helpline has been investing in our ability to operate 24/7, 365 days a year, and to deliver more substantial and engaged forms of support. For instance, we’ve been conducting analysis of advanced threats and producing collaborative research in places such as Armenia, Serbia, and Jordan

In 2023, the regional distribution of cases was as follows:

Helpline Case distribution by region

Our work supports a wide spectrum of civil society stakeholders; from individual activists, human rights defenders, and members of marginalized communities, to journalists and media workers. For it to be as impactful as possible, we work closely with the wider digital security community, through networks like CiviCERT. This allows us to deliver adequate support to each of our beneficiary groups, which were distributed as follows in 2023:

Helpline Beneficiaries by category

In 2024, the Helpline will continue improving and increasing how we collaborate with activist groups around the world, as well as working to meet the evolving needs of the global rapid response community. If you are a member of civil society in need of digital security assistance, you can find details about how to get in touch on our website page