We are currently not accepting applications.
We expect to open our next call for applications around November 2023, and it will be open until February 2024.
The Digital Freedom Fund supports strategic litigation on digital rights in Europe that contributes to advancing human rights in the digital context. See answers to our frequently asked questions here.
To contact the DFF grants team, click the envelope below.
Types of grants
Litigation track support
Support for litigation of a case through multiple instances, from first instance through a final appeal.
Example: a challenge to the European Court of Human Rights against police use of facial recognition technology
Support for preparation required before planned litigation can begin. This could include legal research, evidence gathering, forum selection or finding claimants and partners. Example: a comparative study between EU jurisdictions to determine which one offers the best options to address a specific issue.
Support for litigation of a case through multiple instances, from first instance through to the final appeal.
Example: a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights against police use of facial recognition technology.
Support for activities to prepare for planned litigation. This could include legal research, evidence gathering, forum selection or identifying claimants and project partners. It does not include broad research or general scoping about unplanned litigation. Example: a comparative study between three EU jurisdictions to determine which one offers the best options to address a specific issue under an EU Directive.
Thematic focus areas
Advance individuals' ability to exercise their right to privacy
1. Advance individuals' ability to exercise their right to privacy
Examples are cases that:
Protect and promote the free flow of information online
2. Protect and promote the free flow of information online
Examples are cases that:
Some successful cases we have supported so far include, Misuse of copyright claims in Germany to stifle freedom of information, Facebook’s private censorship, and Women’s rights website blocked in Spain
Ensure accountability, transparency and the adherence to human rights standards in the use and design of technology
3. Ensure accountability, transparency and the adherence to human rights standards in the use and design of technology
Examples are cases that:
Some successful cases we have supported so far include, The “SyRI” welfare fraud risk-scoring algorithm, Secret algorithms and hidden data flows violating rights of “gig workers”, Access to government algorithms in Poland, and UK Home Office visa application streaming algorithm
We also welcome applications for projects that fall outside these general thematic focus areas if they can contribute to advancing the respect for human rights in the digital sphere. Cases need to have the potential for impact extending beyond the parties directly involved in the case and for bringing about legislative, policy or social change.
Check out more examples of the cases we are supporting on our case studies page.
Grant application criteria
What does DFF consider "digital rights"?
DFF works with a broad definition of digital rights. We consider digital rights to be human rights as applicable in the digital sphere. The digital sphere covers both physically constructed spaces, such as infrastructure and devices, and spaces that are virtually constructed, such as online identities and communities.
DFF accepts grant applications concerning all Council of Europe Member States.
Who can apply?
We will consider applications from digital rights advocates (e.g. NGOs and other entities that pursue a public interest objective), pro bono lawyers, and other litigators seeking to protect and advance digital rights in Europe.
We fund not just digital rights organisations, but also provide support to racial, social, feminist, queer, environmental, migrant rights and economic justice movements and organisations working on digital rights.
As litigators work with different operational models and each case has different dimensions and complexities, grant amounts requested vary. Rather than working with a fixed case support fee, DFF will evaluate each case on its own merits in light of both the general grantmaking criteria and the principle of cost-efficiency.
Between 2020 and 2022, our annual grants budget was between EUR 600,000 and EUR 800,000, and we approved 15-20 applications per year.
So far the average size of a litigation track support grant is around EUR 50,000 and the average size of a pre-litigation research support grant is around EUR 30,000. We have approved grants as low as EUR 3,000, and some over EUR 100,000.
What does DFF consider “strategic” litigation?
In order to be considered strategic, litigation must have the potential to:
For further reading, see our three part blog series about strategic litigation.