Grants healthy digital public sphere

Our grantee partners

As of August 2021, and for a period ranging from 2- 2.5 years, Civitates is proud to support the following civil society advocates with core/programmatic grants for their work focused on fostering a healthy digital public sphere.

Access Now defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. By combining direct technical support, comprehensive policy engagement, global advocacy, grassroots grantmaking, legal interventions, and convenings such as RightsCon, Access Now fights for human rights in the digital age. As one of the few NGOs working fulltime on digital rights policy in Brussels, Access Now Europe has shaped policy discourse to support a healthy digital sphere at the EU level across a range of issues – including privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, artificial intelligence, and Net Neutrality – and has operated as a registered entity since 2016. Their EU level work is an organizational priority given the bloc’s influential role in establishing positive standards worldwide.

Amount: € 200,000

AlgorithmWatch is a non-profit research and advocacy organisation committed to watch and unpack algorithmic / automated decision-making systems (ADMS) and their impact on society. While the prudent use of ADMS can benefit individuals and communities, they come with great risks. Guided by the principles of protecting and strengthening individual autonomy, fundamental rights, and the public good, Algorithmwatch considers it crucial to hold ADMS accountable to democratic control, and develop technical tools and governance mechanisms to achieve this. ADMS that significantly affect individuals and collectives must not only be made public in clear and accessible ways, but individuals must also be able to understand how decisions are reached, and contest them if necessary. The organisation’s work is dedicated to enabling citizens and legislators to better understand ADM processes in order to take informed decisions and action. Hereby, it aims to contribute to a fair and inclusive society and to maximise the benefit of ADMS. To improve accountability of platforms and enable an evidence-based, inclusive, democratic debate about the role they play for the public sphere, Algorithmwatch advocates for mandatory frameworks to data access for public interest research, and effective auditing mechanisms.     

Amount: €250,000

The EDRi network is a dynamic and resilient collective of NGOs, experts, advocates and academics working to defend and advance digital rights across the continent. For almost two decades, it has served as the backbone of the digital rights movement in Europe.EDRi‘s mission is to challenge private and state actors who abuse their power to control or manipulate the public. It does so by advocating for robust and enforced laws, informing and mobilising people, promoting a healthy and accountable technology market, and building a movement of organisations and individuals committed to digital rights and freedoms in a connected world. EDRi aims to contribute to a healthy digital public sphere by advocating for the Digital Services Act and the Digital Market Act – and related EU policy initiatives – to advance human rights, define bold procedural and transparency requirements for very large online platforms and put forward systemic changes to Big Tech’s business model.

Amount: €250,000

EU DisinfoLab is an independent non-profit organisation focused on tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns and documenting the disinformation phenomenon in Europe. As a small civil society organisation, EU DisinfoLab acts as a facilitator within the community of disinformation experts, putting emphasis on building partnerships and fostering collaboration between relevant initiatives in Europe. It gathers experts and organisations to exchange best practices, cooperate, and develop new approaches to countering disinformation. EU DisinfoLab also regularly proposes policy recommendations to EU institutions and EU Member States and offers its expertise to policymakers. EU DisinfoLab strives to jointly develop a multi-stakeholder response to disinformation – complete with a legal framework that protects our fundamental rights and offers sustainable solutions to disinformation.

Amount: €200,000

The European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is a non-profit organisation supporting democracy worldwide. It comprises seventeen European civil and political society organisations from twelve European countries working in and outside Europe. Through innovative and collaborative methodologies, EPD facilitates the exchange of knowledge and good practices, while advocating for a stronger presence of democracy on the EU’s agenda. The vision of EPD is of a world of democracies that truly represent the interests of citizens. EPD’s4 strategic priorities for its multiannual strategy 2020-2023 are: supporting democratic innovation and inclusion, safeguarding democracy, supporting strong European policies for democracy, and promoting democratic principles in the digital sphere.

Amount: €300,000

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam is a leading research centre in the field of information law. IViR employs over 30 researchers active in the full spectrum of information society related legal areas, including intellectual property, telecommunications, media law, freedom of expression, privacy and consumer protection. Besides research, it provides a forum for critical debate about the social, cultural and political aspects of regulating the digital public sphere and information markets. IViR is host to a variety of relevant research initiatives, including ‘The Digital Transformation of Decision-Making’ and Information, Communication & The Data Society. The ‘Digital Services Act Observatory’, supported by Civitates, acts as a hub of expertise for the EU’s Digital Services Act proposal, provides independent analysis and engages different stakeholders on the challenge of confronting platform power from a fundamental rights and democratic values perspective.

Amount: €100,000

Liberties was established as a nonprofit charity in Germany, operating as an EU watchdog and a network. Its vision is the full implementation of human rights in the EU; and mission is to influence the EU to respect, protect and promote human rights. Liberties is built on a network of 18 members, which are human rights watchdogs working at national level in the Member States. It uses 4 tools, to influence the EU and national governments: advocacy, public education and mobilization, strategic litigation and capacity building in strategic communications and values-based framing to support the sector to build a broad base of public support. Liberties’ Tech & Rights program focuses primarily on pressing the EU and national governments to regulate, co-regulate tech companies or support self-regulation for a democracy-friendly online environment.

Amount: €150,000

The Panoptykon Foundation was established in April 2009, in Poland, upon the initiative of a group of engaged lawyers, to express their opposition to surveillance. It’s mission is to protect fundamental rights and freedoms in the context of fast-changing technologies and growing surveillance.

Panoptykon considers data and algorithms a source of power, and – in confrontation with huge asymmetries of this power – strives to defend human rights and open society. With a mix of legal tactics, long-term advocacy, targeted research, and awareness raising campaigns, Panoptykon exposes and tames surveillance practices. including the use of information about people, by both public and private actors, as a tool of control. Panoptykon keeps an eye on all key entities, such as public authorities, intelligence agencies and tech corporations that collect and use personal data in order to influence people. It believes that surveillance measures should only be allowed when necessary, proportionate, and subject to independent oversight, by institutions, free media, and robust civil society.

Amount: €200,000