Civitates grants € 1.65 million to support civil society advocates for a healthy digital public sphere

Published: 23 September 2021

Since its inception in 2018, Civitates and its partner foundations have worked towards tackling issues impacting discourse online such as disinformation and the citizen’s information diet, polarisation, outdated rules or lack thereof, governing how it functions and the power that private companies hold. We funded a wide variety of initiatives to better understand what is happening in the digital public sphere, build the evidence base and advocate for regulation of the digital public sphere in a way that upholds democracy and fundamental rights.  All those initiatives have been aimed at contributing to the fostering of a healthy digital public sphere.

This has been an enriching experience for the Fund and its partners and while we are proud of the work accomplished so far and our mission is far from being accomplished.  Over the past few years, we have seen a growing awareness from policy makers, civil society, and citizens on the issues of the digital public sphere as well as potential solutions to address those.  The pandemic and the even greater dependency on technology have made those even clearer.

Policy makers around the world have taken the first step towards addressing the issues of the digital public sphere through regulation. More specifically, the European Union has in 2020 initiated a whole array of policy proposals, including the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act or the European Democracy Action Plan that have the potential to set (global) standards for the functioning of the online world and foster a digital public sphere.

Civil society has contributed greatly to shaping those policy proposals, advocating for policy approaches conducive to and coherent with democratic principles and fundamental rights. While this is one step in the right direction, the road that leads to a healthy digital public sphere is a long one, and civil society needs to be resourced and supported to participate in this process. To contribute to this, Civitates has decided to support civil society organisations that:

  • advocate for policy approaches towards a healthy digital public sphere
  • build the capacity and constituency of civil society to engage in the debate and address the current, emerging, and future challenges of the digital public sphere.

In light of this, Civitates is proud to announce that it has dedicated 1.65 million euros to support the work of the following organisations with core/programmatic grants for the next 2 years:

    • Access Now Europe: € 200 000
    • Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties): €150 000
    • AlgorithmWatch (AW ): €250,000
    • Institute for Information Law (IViR): €100 000
    • Panoptykon Foundation: €200,000
    • European Digital Rights (EDRi): €250,000
    • EU DisinfoLab: €200,000
    • European Partnership for Democracy: €300,000

Civitates and its partner foundations look forward to the cooperation with this new cohort of grantee partners and the broader field, striving to shape our digital environment in a way that is aligned with our values rooted in respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.