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Blog In Depth

How we supported the fight for online freedom in 2020

The fundamental freedom of speech is not a global constant, and it’s not everywhere that people can enjoy online liberty and diversity. Some of the rights we take for granted can cost someone their freedom or even life elsewhere. Recent events in Belarus are a clear illustration of this.

Paul Black

Paul Black

Dec 23, 2020 · 5 min read

How we supported the fight for online freedom in 2020

But even countries with high freedom indexes don't always do everything right. Governments still monitor us. Corporations trace us and gather our data for marketing and other purposes. The internet platforms we use manipulate tons of data that we provide them with. Moreover, there is the constant fear of hackers snatching our precious data.

We've always believed in freedom of speech and the free internet. So, we strive to support these ideas by helping those who spread them across the globe and make our online future brighter. These people are usually on the front lines in the fight for a more transparent and equal online future. And we are always willing to help build up a future we would like to live in ourselves.

Our key partners

Here are some of our key partners, whom we try to help and encourage in their ongoing ventures to make the internet safer, more equal, and free.

AccessNow

AccessNow is a community of technologists defending the digital rights of users at risk all around the world. They stand for an open and non-discriminatory internet in which each user and enterprise is treated equally. They fight for net neutrality and a free and open internet, where people respect each other's rights and treat each other with transparency and accountability. One of their most significant ventures is the RightsCon conference on digital human rights. They also maintain a helpline individuals or organizations can turn to for advice regarding internet freedom.

AccessNow is one of our key partners. We support both RightsCon and their helpline, as we share the same idea of an open and transparent internet.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is one of the most prominent NGOs focusing on human rights and fighting for “a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.” Amnesty deals with protecting human rights and dignity as well as ending torture and death penalty.

Amnesty has been our crucial partner since 2018, and together we cultivate and defend our shared ideas of global equality, justice, and freedom.

Internet Freedom Festival

The Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) is one of the world’s most diverse and colorful internet freedom conferences. IFF gives a voice to marginalized and underrepresented communities and makes the internet a more lively and varied place.

As we support online diversity, we've been maintaining ties with this festival for some time. We've been one of the three partners of their VPN village contest. The event initiates a dialogue between VPN researchers and creators through workshops and training. One of our representatives attended the event this year and shared their experiences with VPN development.

Open Rights Group

Open Rights Group protects the privacy of people in the UK and stands for a free internet. We've been partnering with them since 2019 and proudly supporting their ORGCON event, a conference focusing on digital rights in the UK. They are our main social responsibility partner in the British Isles.

Cybercrime Support Network

CSN provides support to victims of cybercrime and educates others about it. They also provide contacts and tools to prevent cybercrime. CSN runs the Fraud Support program to help victims overcome the psychological and financial damage caused by a cyberattack. This program takes victims through the report, recovery, and reinforcement processes after an incident occurs.

One of our key missions is to protect online users from cybercrime. This is why we continuously support this organization.

European Journalism Center

The European Journalism Center (EJC) fights for free journalism, connects journalists, and provides a platform for exchanging ideas. In restrictive regimes, journalists are on the front lines in the battle for free speech and are thus some of the most vulnerable. Therefore, the support of organizations like the EJC is of the utmost importance to them.

Journalists are one of our target groups, and NordVPN has several features that make journalist activities safer, such as KillSwitch or obfuscated servers.

Linux Professional Institute

The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) promotes the idea of open-source software and supports its developers. Thus, it promotes a more egalitarian approach to software development, favoring the shift of power to the community instead of keeping it in the hands of the few. LPI is essential for us, as we strongly believe in the principle of a transparent online world where everyone can contribute.

TEDx probably needs no introduction. It is a global hub where great minds gather to exchange their ideas and present them publicly. We were quite a fresh and proud sponsor of the TEDx off-shoot in Manchester in 2020. This enables us to reach and educate even wider audiences on cybersecurity.

EDRi

EDRi stands for European Digital Rights, and it is the largest European network fighting for online rights and freedom. This is a group of experts promoting internet democracy and fighting against big tech companies' surveillance capitalism. Their focus on privacy protection and the idea of an open and inclusive internet are in line with our core values. That’s why NordVPN has sponsored their fundraising campaign.

What else we did

Here are some numbers from our sponsorships:

  • From 2018 to 2020 we gave away 1,628 VPN accounts to people and organizations in need;
  • We gave 207 accounts for COVID-19-related support to NGOs, educators, and YouTubers;
  • In 2020, we received 7,081 emergency VPN access requests.

We also undertook the following initiatives:

  • Apart from providing VPN accounts, we also introduced two educational initiatives to increase cyber awareness among our followers: the National Privacy Test and our free ebook. The former allows you to check your security know-how and improve it, while the latter provides you with basic cybersecurity terms in a simple and playful form;
  • We also launched our first interview with Invisible Borders, one of the organizations we support. We hope to have more such publications in the future and shine a spotlight on people spreading the idea of freedom online;
  • Encouraging women empowerment and battling online sexism is another direction of our social initiatives. Check out our recent article on how to fight gender-based online violence;
  • Hackathons have also been an area we’ve been continuously supporting. These workshops are essential in developing new countermeasures to cyberthreats and building software solutions to solve issues related to healthcare, the community, and the environment. So far we’ve sponsored three hackathons — Hack It Better, Openhack and Elysium, and one DefCon team;
  • As 2020 was different due to the global pandemic, we had to react to this as well. We initiated the Stay Safe campaign to inform our users and followers about potential threats and safety measures. Moreover, during the hard times we supported people in need, such as educational institutions, non-profits, YouTubers, and others. We also gave advice to our readers in our COVID-19-related blog posts;
  • We signed the Safe Internet Freedom petition to prevent the dismantling of the Open Technology Fund, an independent organization advancing global internet freedom.

2020 was a rough year with many challenges to privacy and online security. Although it’s difficult to predict anything these days, we hope 2021 will be better. Our hopes are strong, and they are only getting stronger with so many wonderful initiatives successfully building a better, brighter, more diverse, and free online tomorrow.