Skill building and networking

Skill building and networking

The Digital Freedom Fund facilitates networking, skill building and movement-strengthening initiatives in the form of training, workshops, speaker series and strategy sessions. Our approach is participatory and seeks to support individuals and organisations working to promote digital rights in Europe through strategic litigation. Events are held in both online and offline format.

Annual Strategy Meetings

Since 2018, DFF has held annual strategy meetings that bring together various stakeholders, including legal experts, activists, and litigators, to look back on the year that has passed and collaboratively plan and strategise for the months ahead. Over the last four years, those meetings have grown in size representing an ever greater range of geographic and thematic interests. We share developments and outcomes from the meetings  on our blog, and in our annual reports

Strategy meetings provide a space for individuals and organisations working on digital rights issues to come together, synchronise efforts and pool ideas, creativity, and resources. They are also a crucial tool for DFF to continue learning from the field and to prioritise our own efforts to support digital rights work.

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Strategic Litigation Retreats

DFF’s Strategic Litigation Retreats combine training and workshopping sessions to provide litigators seeking to enforce digital rights with the opportunity to sharpen their litigation skills, co-design litigation strategies, and share knowledge, experience and litigation tactics. 

In July and October 2018, DFF and SHARE Foundation co-hosted two Strategic Litigation Retreats: in Montenegro and Serbia. In November 2020 and April 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, DFF remodelled these retreats to be held in a collaborative online environment.

You can learn more about the retreats in the short documentary below filmed at DFF’s first retreat in Montenegro.

Over the last four years, those meetings have grown in size representing an ever greater range of geographic and thematic interests. We share developments and outcomes from the meetings  on our blog, and in our annual reports

Strategy meetings provide a space for individuals and organisations working on digital rights issues to come together, synchronise efforts and pool ideas, creativity, and resources. They are also a crucial tool for DFF to continue learning from the field and to prioritise our own efforts to support digital rights work.

Read more

Future-proofing our Digital Rights

In October 2018, DFF held a workshop that took a long-term view on “Future-proofing our Digital Rights”. Participants from across Europe looked ahead at the opportunities, threats and challenges our future selves could encounter when faced with violations of our digital rights. The event allowed us to strategise, plan and get out in front of these trends. 

The workshop was accompanied by an essay series that looks at the digital rights implications of algorithmic decision making, connected children’s toys, the Internet of Things, the “splinternet”, and “digital divides”. 

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Data Protection Workshops

In May 2019, DFF funded a workshop that explored the practical elements to take into account when litigating under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The meeting was organised by Access Now and noyb. This was followed, in September 2019, by a workshop on “Unlocking the Strategic Litigation Opportunities of the GDPR”, where 21 participants from across Europe mapped ongoing efforts in GDPR enforcement. The aim was to identify those areas where the need for the enforcement of data protection rights is greatest and to develop strategies around that across a variety of contexts.

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Image by Pixabay

Connecting the Digital Rights Field and Academia

In June 2019, DFF organised a transatlantic meeting in Amsterdam that brought together academics, law clinics and practitioners to explore how the digital rights field can better connect with academia

Participants also considered how to engage and inspire students in digital rights litigation, and how to promote international collaboration among digital rights scholars, teachers, advocates and activists.

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Decolonising Digital Rights

Since early 2019, DFF has focused on the need to reflect on the way in which uneven power dynamics, exclusion, privilege and extraction play out in the digital rights field. 

In early 2020, DFF partnered with European Digital Rights (EDRi) to work jointly on initiating a process for decolonising the digital rights field. This work has included conversations with organisations, collectives, activists and others currently outside the field to understand how they engage with digital rights issues. It has also included conversations with digital rights organisations on their vision and understanding of decolonisation. 

In December 2020, DFF and EDRi brought together 30 participants working on issues of racial, social and economic justice, digital rights and philanthropy to collectively imagine a vision of a decolonised digital rights field and how they articulate a process for getting there. 

During the Annual Strategy Meeting, in February 2021, a panel on Decolonising Data took a critical look at how data infrastructures centralise power while dispossessing and disenfranchising certain groups and communities. 

Since June 2021, the second phase of the project has been launched. This process, which includes more than 30 people and roughly 24 organisations working on racial and social justice issues, as well as organisations from the current digital rights field and funders, will see participants work together on designing a multiyear programme toward decolonising the digital rights field.  

You can read more about the Decolonising Digital Rights project here.

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Digital Rights for All

In March 2021, DFF has reached out to 200 organisations working on racial, social and economic justice issues aiming at assessing their needs to develop expertise and autonomy in advocacy and strategic litigation work regarding digital rights.

As of Fall 2021, and drawing from the survey´s feedback, a series of workshop will take place concerning digital policing via biometric surveillance and in regard to migration, digital exclusion in welfare systems, in health… Some of the workshops will also aim at sharing tools for digital safety and work together on community-centered advocacy plans and community-centered strategic litigation.

You can read more about the Digital Rights for All initiative here.

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Digital Welfare State

Since 2019, DFF has been discussing with litigators, activists and technologists how the digital welfare state impacts human rights. As a side event to the Annual Strategy Meeting in February 2019, DFF hosted the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, for a one-day consultation with the digital rights field. This consultation generated observations and input that later informed the UN Special Rapporteur’s thematic report on the digital welfare state published in October 2019. 

Between 2019 and 2020, DFF also held one-on-one and group conversations with various stakeholders on their goals for taking strategic litigation on the digital welfare state. These conversations informed the development of a litigation strategy on the digital welfare state.

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Leveraging Competition Law for Digital Rights

DFF has hosted a series of networking and skill building events focused on how the competition or antitrust legal framework could be utilised to protect digital rights from the abusive practices of monopolistic tech companies. 

The first event, held in December 2019, consisted of a two-day training workshop on EU competition law enforcement. This was accompanied by the publication of a short guide to competition law for digital rights litigators

In June 2020, a second workshop aimed at testing and developing ideas for potential competition law cases relating to self-preferencing and data processing practices. DFF also produced several short videos and factsheets that explain the key concepts covered during the workshop. 

In November and December 2020, DFF held its first ever Speakers Series “Taking on Big Tech: The Fight for Digital Rights”. It explored recent cases, opportunities and challenges in using competition law enforcement for the protection and promotion of digital rights.  

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Litigating Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms

In November 2019, DFF and AI Now hosted a two-day workshop on “Litigating Algorithms in Europe”, which brought together lawyers from the US, Europe, and Latin America seeking to challenge algorithmic decision-making through the courts. 

This was followed by a virtual workshop on “Tackling AI in the Time of COVID” a year later, in the midst of a global pandemic, where participants from across the globe developed strategies on how we can best protect our digital rights amidst tech-solutionist approaches for combatting COVID-19. Outputs from this meeting were summarised in a report, visuals, animations and videos.

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Virtual Strategy Design Jams

DFF has hosted targeted virtual strategy sessions on a range of pressing digital rights issues and concerns like facial recognition technology and the expanding use of artificial intelligence in law enforcement.

Between September and November 2019, DFF held a transatlantic call series exploring opportunities for co-operation on a range of thematic areas, including anti-encryption measures, machine learning and content moderation.   

In June 2020, a series of virtual “outcomes harvesting” workshops aimed to help participants put into practice a pilot framework for monitoring the impact of strategic litigation on digital rights. 

You can find more information about DFF’s skill building and networking events on DFF’s blog  and our Twitter stream.

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