Introducing the Digital Freedom Fund

Introducing the Digital Freedom Fund

By Nani Jansen Reventlow, 1st October 2017

I am excited to introduce the Digital Freedom Fund. DFF will seek to support strategic litigation on digital rights in Europe through two main activities: providing financial support for strategic court cases and facilitating increased collaboration between those working to advance digital rights. The Fund will also assist litigators in finding pro bono legal support to further strengthen their litigation work. DFF will not itself litigate or engage in lobbying, rather it will seek to leverage the strong work digital rights organisations in Europe are already doing.

Litigation can be a crucial lever to achieve change. Legislation and regulations that negatively affect people’s ability to exercise their digital rights are introduced on an ongoing basis, but Europe has a constitutional framework that can be used to challenge these laws. The European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as national constitutions, guarantee the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and assembly; rights that apply in the digital context just as they do offline.

Some important legal victories illustrate the potential of litigation, such as the invalidation of the Safe Harbour agreement and Data Retention Directive by the Court of Justice of the European Union. At the national level, the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal handed down a powerful ruling on surveillance, and administrative complaints have forced tech giants like Apple to amend their consumer terms.

These examples bode well for the expected impact of a concerted effort in protecting digital rights in Europe through litigation. The Digital Freedom Fund is looking forward to working with the many organisations doing fantastic work in this area, as well as those operating in the policy field, to help increase the impact of their work.

In the coming months, DFF will engage in a consultative dialogue process with those working in the digital rights field to learn what their priorities are and how the Fund can best help pursue them. This will help determine DFF’s funding priorities and overall strategy going forward.

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