COVID-19 Litigation Fund

COVID-19 Litigation Fund

The COVID-19 Litigation Fund supports strategic cases challenging digital rights violations committed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. DFF opened a first call for applications in June 2020 and a second call for applications in September 2020. The application process is currently closed.
 
See examples of grantees on the case study page here.
 
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The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on societies across the globe. Not only is it causing a significant loss of life and illness, it also has severe repercussions for human rights. As more individuals are required to practice social distancing, work or attend school from home, access social welfare online, and receive information and news through the internet, the impact of government responses to COVID-19 on digital rights is particularly pressing.

The Digital Freedom Fund is issuing a call for applications for strategic cases challenging the gravest digital rights violations committed in the context of the COVID-19 situation that are either a direct result of responses to the pandemic or are demonstrably linked to and exacerbated by it. Litigation challenging existing digital rights issues which have only seen limited impact from the pandemic fall outside the scope of this call. Furthermore, DFF will prioritise applications that focus on addressing the negative impact felt by the most vulnerable groups in society, who generally will have limited access to justice and experience particular hardship due to the already existing ‘digital divide’.

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What kind of grant can I apply for?

Strategic litigation support, for multiple instances

Example: if making a constitutional challenge to legislation amended in response to COVID-19, you can apply for a grant to support you through each instance of litigation needed, including possible appeals and referrals to a regional court.

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What is strategic litigation?

The litigation is carried out as part of a wider strategic vision and will lead to an impact extending beyond the parties directly involved in the case. It will bring about legislative, policy or social change.

For more information about what a successful application looks like see here.

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What type of cases will we support?

Cases that relate to digital rights violations that are a result of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic or exacerbated by it.
 
Examples:

1. The tracking of citizen’s movements, communications and health data in relation to the pandemic
2. Online censorship, ostensibly to curb the spread of misinformation about the virus

3. The use of artificial intelligence to assist combatting the virus, but with little or no oversight or regulation, and/or that exacerbates existing inequalities

Cases should ideally fit under one of DFF’s three thematic focus areas, but cases with a different thematic scope are not excluded from the call.

What type of cases will we not support?

Litigation challenging existing digital rights issues which have only seen limited impact from the pandemic. For these types of cases, please apply under DFF’s regular grantmaking process.
 
Examples:
 
1. Data and privacy violations in the online advertising technology industry
2. Unequal internet access caused by net neutrality violations
3. Discrimination caused by the use of algorithms in the criminal justice system
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Who is eligible to apply for a grant?

Any organisation that advocates for digital rights, including as part of their broader human rights or social justice work.

DFF accepts grant applications concerning all Council of Europe Member States.

How can I apply for a grant?

The COVID-19 Litigation Fund will open a second call for applications in late August and will be open until 30 September 2020. Please write to the DFF Programme Officer to request the application forms, grants@digitalfreedomfund.org (PGP fingerprint: AD62 7778 1A69 4C0E C1A2 8691 A7E1 A7E1 B96C 4029).

 
Any applications submitted outside of the given timeframe will not be considered. Further calls for applications may be announced at a later date.

The application process consists of the following steps:

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Step 1: Request an application form

Write to the DFF Programme Officer to request the application forms at grants@digitalfreedomfund.org.
 
You do not need to provide any information about your application in the email. The Programme Officer will provide you with the forms through a secure channel.
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Step 2: Full application

Complete the application forms and submit them by 30 September 2020. See the application guidance document to get an idea what we expect from your application.

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Step 3: Assessment by DFF

Applications that clearly fall outside the scope of the COVID-19 Litigation Fund grantmaking criteria will not go through to the next step. Applications that meet the Fund’s criteria will continue to the external evaluation stage.

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Step 4: Evaluation by panel of experts

The DFF Applications that meet the Fund’s criteria will be fully evaluated with the assistance of our Panel of Experts, on the basis of which a recommendation will be made to the DFF Board.

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Step 5: Decision by DFF board

The DFF Board will make the final decision on which applications to support.

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Step 1: Request an application form

Write to the DFF Programme Officer to request the application forms at grants@digitalfreedomfund.org.
 
You do not need to provide any information about your application in the email. The Programme Officer will provide you with the forms through a secure channel.
An icon of a document with a paper clip attached.

Step 2: Full application

Complete the application forms and submit them by 30 September 2020. See the application guidance document to get an idea what we expect from your application.
An icon displaying a document and a magnifying glass.

Step 3: Assessment by DFF

Applications that clearly fall outside the scope of the COVID-19 Litigation Fund grantmaking criteria will not go through to the next step. Applications that meet the Fund’s criteria will continue to the external evaluation stage.
An icon showing a clipboard with a check mark.

Step 4: Evaluation by Panel of Experts

The DFF Applications that meet the Fund’s criteria will be fully evaluated with the assistance of our Panel of Experts, on the basis of which a recommendation will be made to the DFF Board.

An icon showing a document and an official seal.

Step 5: Decision by DFF Board

The DFF Board will make the final decision on which applications to support.

Timing

The overall duration of the application process is 14 weeks in total. DFF aims to have contracts concluded with the first grantees in early December 2020.

Apply

To apply or ask questions, contact grants@digitalfreedomfund.org (PGP fingerprint: AD62 7778 1A69 4C0E C1A2 8691 A7E1 A7E1 B96C 4029).

The final deadline for applications is 30 September 2020.