Dear supporters,

In this edition of the EDRi-gram, we look at the leaked opinion of the European Commission which sets off alarm bells for mass surveillance of private communications. The newly-revealed opinion confirms the fears that EDRi and 39 other civil society groups recently raised about the proposal which could destroy the integrity of private online communications across the EU, and set a dangerous precedent for the world. 

We are also urging for real solutions to the flaws of the law guarding our data protection and privacy. Though a new record of high fines based on the GDPR was issued in 2021, people still face barriers to exercising rights like access to remedy and benefiting from a harmonised enforcement mechanism. 

Five days left to apply to become EDRi's new Senior Communications and Media Manager in Brussels. You'll help shape the communications of the largest digital rights network in Europe. Apply TODAY!

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Inclusive technology

 


Promoting human rights in the digital era

Hynek Trojánek, PR, EDRi member, Iuridicum Remedium

Digital technologies are part of everyday life, but we don’t know much about how they impact our rights.

“People who don’t have the technology or don’t know how to use it have begun to drop out of society. Some people had problems with registering online for vaccination, some children weren’t able to access online schooling” — IuRe’s Jan Vobořil.

A Czech-Norwegian project aims to change this. EDRi member IuRe, in cooperation with other Czech non-profit and public sector partners, has launched a new project, Promoting Human Rights in the Digital Era. The aim is to alert the public about how digital technologies can encroach on their human rights. The consortium will carry out in-depth research amongst journalists to measure their level of awareness on the issue. The findings will be used to develop specialised training for media professionals. Read more. (Also in Czech)


 

Platform power

 


Not everything is allowed in politics: Upcoming political advertising legislation must introduce limits on political ads online

Sebastián Becker Castellaro, Policy Advisor, EDRi

The digital transformation of democracy has created new threats to maintaining the integrity of elections and free democratic processes. For example, manipulation, fragmentation of public debate and disinformation. In November 2021, the European Commission launched a proposal for a regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising. The legislation must ban advertising based on tracking and targeting people for political purposes.

Through the collection, extraction and misuse of people’s personal data, microtargeting is used to reach voters with tailored messages to exploit their sensitivities and fragment the political public debate. This has not only had an impact on electoral processes but also on people’s fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression, right to make political decisions, and voting rights. Read more. 


 

Privacy & Data Protection

 


Leaked opinion of the Commission sets off alarm bells for mass surveillance of private communications

Ella Jakubowska, Policy Advisor, EDRi

“Reservations”. “Significant shortcomings”. “Efficiency and proportionality […] not sufficiently demonstrated”. “Options […] are not presented in a sufficiently open, complete and balanced manner”.

It might sound like we are talking about an inquiry into a dodgy business deal or some sort of murky political scandal. But in fact, what the above sentences refer to is a newly-revealed Opinion of a European Commission review board about their own colleagues’ upcoming proposal for a ‘Legislation to effectively tackle child sexual abuse’. 

Leaked by French media outlet Contexte yesterday (22 March), and dated 15 February 2022, these worrying statements from within the European Commission are just the tip of the iceberg for a legislative proposal that EDRi and 39 other civil society groups recently warned could destroy the integrity of private online communications across the EU, and set a dangerous precedent for the world. Read more.


Private communications are a cornerstone of democratic society and must be protected in online CSAM legislation

Ella Jakubowska, Policy Advisor, EDRi

On 17 March, EDRi and 34 civil society organisations jointly raised our voices to the European Commission to demand that the forthcoming EU ‘Legislation to effectively tackle child sexual abuse’ complies with EU fundamental rights and freedoms. We are seriously concerned that the draft law does not meet the requirements of proportionality and legitimacy that are rightly required of all EU laws, and would set a dangerous precedent for mass spying on private communications. Read more. 



Civil society call and recommendations for concrete solutions to GDPR enforcement shortcomings

Chloé Berthélémy, Policy Advisor, EDRi

EDRi members call on the European Data Protection Board, the European Commission, and all national data protection authorities to urgently address the structural and procedural enforcement issues that prevent the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from fully reaching its potential. The GDPR's impact on how companies and governments handle our data and the increasing control individuals get over their own information is undeniable. However, the GDPR must do more, it can put an end to data-exploitative business models and shift the balance of power to people. Read more. 


The European Commission might put a stop to end-to-end encryption

Rejo Zenger, Policy Advisor, EDRi member, Bits of Freedom

The European Commission is working on a bill that requires platforms to monitor all your chats. This would undermine the essence of end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption is one of the very few technologies that we (you individually, and we as a society) can trust to protect our most sensitive conversations (and photos and videos). That applies to the “I don’t have anything to hide”-crowd, but also to managers who want to protect their corporate secrets from espionage, or indeed victims of sexual violence when they talk to a therapist or aid worker. Read more. (Also in Dutch)


Electronic monitoring using GPS tags: a tech primer

EDRi member, Privacy International

Electronic tags have been a key part of criminal justice for many years throughout the world. As traditional radio-frequency tags are replaced by GPS ankle tags, EDRi member, Privacy International examines how these different technologies work and the seismic shift that will result from 24/7 location monitoring and data analytics, enabled by GPS tags. For example, UK authorities have reported using this data to find out about an individual's lifestyle, their behaviour and to identify key locations visited. This type of constant surveillance has been reported to negatively impact tag wearers leading to feelings of increased anxiety. In addition, individuals might not want to spend time with a friend who is wearing a GPS tag. Therefore it risks having a strong chilling effect. Read more. 


 

AI & Biometric Mass Surveillance

 


Italian DPA fines Clearview AI for illegally monitoring and processing biometric data of Italian citizens

Laura Carrer, Research and Advocacy at Digital Rights Unit, Hermes Center & Riccardo Coluccini, Reclaim Your Face national campaign contributor

On 9 March 2022, the Italian Data Protection Authority fined the US-based facial recognition company Clearview AI EUR 20 million after finding that the company monitored and processed biometric data of individuals on Italian territory without a legal basis. The fine is the highest expected according to the General Data Protection Regulation, and it was motivated by a complaint sent by the Hermes Center in May 2021 in a joint action with EDRi members Privacy International, noyb, and Homo Digitalis—in addition to complaints sent by some individuals and to a series of investigations launched in the wake of the 2020 revelations of Clearview AI business practices. Read more. 


EU AI Act needs clear safeguards for AI systems for military and national security purposes

EDRi affiliate, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL)

EDRi affiliate ECNL presents the second set of their proposals on exemptions and exclusions of AI used for military and national security purposes from the Artificial Intelligence Act. In their legal briefer to the European Union policymakers jointly endorsed by EDRi, Access Now, AlgorithmWatch, ARTICLE 19, Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI), Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)and Panoptykon Foundation, ECNL proposes to eliminate the reference to “national security purposes” from the overall exemptions to thescopeof the AI Act and to clarify the exactscopeand implications of “military purposes”. Read more. 


 

Freedom of Expression

 


Propaganda cannot be silenced with censorship, freedom of expression can

Lotje Beek, Policy Advisor, and Rejo Zenger, Policy Advisor, EDRi member, Bits of Freedom

The invasion of Ukraine is a massive and tragic humanitarian crisis. Virtually every country in the world is responding to Russia’s military aggression with sanctions and measures. One of these measures was announced two weeks ago: a total blockade of the Russian state media. RT, formerly Russia Today, has since been blocked throughout Europe. This applies to internet access providers but also to social media. And even if the link would still be there, internet access providers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland are now blocking the website.

EDRi member Bits of Freedom explains that this act is a form of censorship and it goes against one of our most important human rights: freedom of speech. In a free country, the government does not decide which websites you can or cannot see. Bits of Freedom urges the European governments to do better to stimulate the independent media in both Russia and Ukraine. Read more(Also in Dutch) 


 

Recommended

 


Watch

Discrimination and surveillance: Can the EU Artificial Intelligence Act fix injustice?

Open Society European Policy Institute and EDRi

The European Union is taking a bold step in its attempt to regulate artificial intelligence – a technology that is increasingly used in many areas of public life. Unfortunately, artificial intelligence systems also exacerbate existing injustices and create new harms for people who already suffer from racial discrimination and systemic injustice. The EU's Artificial Intelligence Act brings a unique opportunity to correct and prevent those harms, and to give people ways to seek redress. Watch the discussion.

Read

Online Intimidation: Controlling the Narrative in the Balkans

Balkan Insight

Nearly 800 cases of digital rights violations in eight countries of south-eastern Europe were recorded by BIRN and EDRi member SHARE Foundation. Hate speech continues to thrive, journalists and vulnerable groups are systematically targeted in the online realm, and the presence of fake news does not decline. Read now to see who is particularly exposed to online attacks and what tensions are surging in society.

Do

Add your voice to protect digital rights and freedoms in the Legislation to effectively tackle child abuse

EDRi

EDRi and 38 civil society organisations jointly raise our voices to the European Commission to demand that the forthcoming EU ‘Legislation to effectively tackle child sexual abuse’ complies with EU fundamental rights and freedoms. The letter remains open for new signatures: you can add your organisation now.

Listen

Tribe of Noise & Free music archive

Creative Commons

Join Hessel van Oorschot, founder and "Chief of Noise" of the online music business Tribe of Noise, a community that connects artists, fans, and professionals for a discussion about his unconventional path to discovering his passion, insights on the biggest opportunities for music licensing right now, how he got involved with the open movement and Creative Commons, and more. Listen now.

 

Events

 


20.01 – 23.03.2022 | Ground truth in Open Internet webinar series | Online | Creative Commons

31.03.2022 | Towards a Feminist Digital Policy | Online | by CFFP & co-hosted by SUPERRR lab

1.04.2022 | GPN20: Call for participation | Online | C3VOC

23 - 25.05.2022 | CPDP Conference: Computers, Privacy & Data Protection | Brussels | by CPDP

6 - 10.06.2022 | RightsCon 2022 | Online | by Access Now

8 - 10.06.2022 | re:publica 2022 | Berlin | by republica GmbH

 

Job board

 

EDRi | Board elections | Remote | 8 April

EDRi | Senior Communications and Media Manager | Brussels | 27 March

EDRi | Dispute resolution & Human Resources professionals | Remote | 24 March

Mozilla | Call for Proposals: Alternative Data Governance Playbook | Remote | 28 March

Nazareth College | Director vacancy at Institute for Technology, Artificial Intelligence, and Society (ITAS) | Rochester, NY | 31 March

MEP Alexandra Geese office | Digital Policy intern or legal trainee | Brussels | 31 March

Ranking Digital Rights | Communications Manager | US | 31 March

Videre | Researcher – Open Source & Social Media Specialist | Remote | 1 April

Human Rights Watch | Technologist, Information Security | Multiple Locations Considered | 3 April

Open Rights Group | Policy Manager | UK | 4 April

LIBE | Policy Adviser | Brussels | 4 April

University of Zurich | Senior Research and Teaching Associate/Postdoc | Zürich | until filled

Algorithm Watch | Student assistant in information security / IT infrastructure, Freelance | Various | until filled

Algorithmic Justice League | Managing Director | Remote, US-based | until filled

Forum on Information & Democracy | Policy Manager | Remote | until filled

Guardian Project | Android/Python Contractors | Remote | until filled

Catholic Relief Services | Data Protection Analyst | EU, Middle East, Central Asia | until filled

Engage Media | Executive Director & Digital Rights Program Manager | Remote | until filled

CitizenLab | Product Manager | US/EU | until filled

CJR | Deputy Advocacy Director | New York | until filled

Internet Society | Grant Specialist | Remote | until filled

Ripe NCC | Multiple vacancies | Various | Various

Systemic Justice | Graphic recorders | Remote | until filled

Wikimedia Foundation | Communications Project Manager, Wikimania Event Project Manager, Facilitator – Community Working Group | Remote | until filled

Access Now | Event operations Coordinator & more | Various | various

noyb.eu | Mid-level and senior lawyers; Full Stack Developer, Legal Trainees | Vienna | Various

Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte e.V | Legal trainees & more | Germany | various

epicenter.works | Communications manager, Volunteer web developer & graphic designer | Various | Various

 

About us

European Digital Rights is a dynamic collective of 45+ NGOs, experts, advocates and academics working to defend and advance digital rights across Europe. We advocate for robust and enforced laws, inform and mobilise people, promote a healthy and accountable technology market, and build a movement committed to digital rights in a connected world.

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Editors: Gail Rego, Viktoria Tomova

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