Lush donates £213k to digital activist groups

The cosmetics brand launched its #KeepItOn campaign last year with a limited edition bath bomb

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Lush Cosmetics is donating £213,000 to digital activist groups, raised from its collaboration with non-profit organisation Access Now to raise awareness of government-ordered internet shutdowns.

The funds were raised from sales of Lush's limited edition Error 404 bath bomb, which was launched last year as part of its #KeepItOn campaign.

They will now be awarded to a selection of companies fighting to protect digital rights that Lush's judging panel whittled down from 146 applicants.

Recipients include Social Media Exchange (SMEX), a group which recently successfully campaigned to restore mobile internet in Arsal, Lebanon, where residents had been unable to access 3G or 4G for two years.

Meanwhile, German company Tails aims to improve online safety by preserving users' privacy and anonymity with its free software, while Australia’s Digital Rights Watch has created a series of videos to inform Australian consumers about the country's privacy rights and how they can be protected.

Lush's website went dark on Black Friday 2016 to raise awareness of government-ordered internet shutdowns

Melody Patry, Advocacy Director at Access Now, said: “Internet shutdowns are often early warning signs of human rights violations, which is why it is so alarming to see their number increase.

“The digital fund is getting much-needed seed funding and small grants to these groups fighting the digital rights fight around the world.”

The recipients include companies from around the globe and will support projects in different areas of digital rights, from preserving privacy to educating consumers and raising awareness.

Patry added: “The high number of applicants showed how much interest and concern there is in protecting freedom of expression in the digital era and fighting to keep the internet free, open and safe – growing and supporting the community committed to these principles.”