Fighting for digital rights in Europe: an update

By Nani Jansen Reventlow, 30th May 2018

A lot has happened in the field of digital rights over the past few months, including the Cambridge Analytica revelations and the GDPR entering into force. What are organisations in DFF’s network doing in the midst of this? And what is DFF working on?

There is some great work going on in our network. A number of actions have been taken in relation to the GDPR, which entered into force on 25 May. Amongst others, a number of organisations joined forces to put together a helpful explainer of rights and obligations under the new Directive, and some have filed multiple information requests with data brokers with a view to assessing their response and compliance with the new data protection regulations. The first court cases have been filed as well, to test how GDPR-proof some of the big social media companies are. On net neutrality, a Europe-wide mapping of net neutrality violations is underway. As is an assessment of voluntary content blocking by ISPs with a view of increasing transparency and accountability for such restrictions to free speech online.

On DFF’s side, we are following up on one of the needs identified at the February strategy meeting, namely the opportunity for skill building and -sharing around strategic litigation. The first litigation retreat, co-hosted by SHARE Foundation, will take place in July, where those interested in pursuing strategic cases can further sharpen their litigation skills and work with others to workshop potential cases. The programme will seek to leverage the knowledge and skills present within the field and allow participants to learn from each other’s experiences. By the end of the retreat, participants will have developed a case strategy for an issue of their choosing.

Alongside this, DFF has started testing its grantmaking with a soft launch, offering financial support for litigation and pre-litigation research for projects that can contribute to advancing the respect for human rights in the digital sphere in Europe. The grantmaking criteria and process were developed based on the valuable input from our network – a post on that process will follow at the formal launch.

Our grants will especially support strategic litigation that can: (1) advance individuals’ ability to exercise their rights to privacy and data protection; or (2) protect and promote the free flow of information online; or (3) ensure accountability, transparency and the adherence to human rights standards in the use and design of technology. A formal announcement will follow this summer. Any enquiries in the meantime can be addressed to grants[at]digitalfreedomfund.org. If you want to be notified when the call goes live, you can sign up for our newsletter here.

We’re inspired by the great work we’re seeing taking place around Europe  and look forward to supporting a number of litigation-related initiatives over the coming months and years.