Announcing our 2022 Open Call grantees
From November 2022, the European AI Fund will support 14 more organisations from across Europe to work on policy and advocacy around Artificial Intelligence over the next two years. These organisations bring a wide range of skills and expertise that will contribute to building a strong civil society ecosystem to shape the future of AI.
As new European Union regulations around AI are finalised, it’s vital civil society can ensure these rules are properly implemented and test their enforcement. So we’re funding organisations with skills such as algorithmic auditing, strategic litigation and investigative journalism that can take on this challenge. And because AI affects every aspect of society, we are investing in organisations with expertise on issues such as migration, health and criminal justice as well as those that represent marginalised communities and people with disabilities and organisations with a particular national focus.
The new grantees will join the community of organisations we already fund to help shape Artificial Intelligence so that it better serves the needs of people and society, respects human rights and promotes fair, inclusive and sustainable democracies.
The Fund will invest €1.9 million in these organisations over the two year period. As well as offering funding, we will support organisations to build connections so they can act collectively to drive change and to gain the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their goals.
Our grantees were selected from a competitive Open Call for proposals. We received 143 applications from a very diverse pool of organisations working across Europe and invited 32 to submit a second stage proposal. Applications were assessed by a committee of representatives from the European AI Fund’s funding partners with input from five external experts.
- Ada Lovelace Institute
- Algorithm Audit
- Danes je nov dan (Today is a new day)
- Eticas Fundation
- EuroMed Rights
- European Council of Autistic People
- European Disability Forum
- Fair Trials Europe (FTE)
- Fundación Ciudadana Civio
- Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte
- Global Health Advocates
- Homo Digitalis
- SHARE Foundation
- Systemic Justice
Europe is leading the world in approaches to data and AI regulation that foreground fundamental rights and societal benefits. The coming years will see ongoing conversation on implementation of the DSA, the DMA, and the Data Governance Act; debates about the Draft AI Act and the Draft Data Act, and a new proposal on AI liability. There remains much work to be done to ensure AI and data regulation empowers people and creates a regulatory and economic ecosystem that delivers just and equitable benefits of new technologies, while minimising risks and harms. Using our three interlinked approaches to shaping regulation – building evidence, convening diverse voices, and shaping policy and practice – over the next two years the Ada Lovelace Institute will:
- Ensure that public and political debates on the AI Liability Directive and AI Act (“the AI Framework”) and other relevant laws are well informed by interdisciplinary research into their implications and impact on people and society;
- Support the implementation of the AI Framework through participation in and shaping of standards development mechanisms to ensure technical standards embed fundamental rights; and
- Develop and advocate for audit and impact assessment methodologies that can be used to ensure the effective implementation of regulation.
Algorithm Audit is using a case-based approach to build and share public knowledge about ethical algorithms. The Netherlands based NGO i) forms independent audit commissions for advising on ethical issues emerging in concrete algorithmic practices, ii) tests technical tools to detect and mitigate bias in practice and iii) conducts advocacy work, by connecting international professionals and sharing knowledge with society and policy makers. Algorithm Audit enables the normative capabilities of humans to work in tandem with the scalable capacity of statistics to define fair AI on a case-by-case basis.
Danes je nov dan (Today is a new day)
Danes je nov dan (Today is a new day) is a Slovenian NGO that uses digital technology and the internet to create dialogue on public issues, facilitate participation and push for transparency. Our mission is to promote open data, responsible use of technology and participatory decision making processes.
Slovenia is undergoing a wave of excitement around AI, with its prolific AI/ADM research programmes and new UNESCO-backed International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence and the forthcoming implementation of the National Programme for the Promotion of Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. But most discussions focus on the perspectives of researchers, engineers and politicians, excluding “non-technical” views. To disrupt this worrying trend we will empower a diverse coalition of NGOs to make itself a key stakeholder in debates regarding the future of AI in Slovenia. We believe a more technically equipped and coordinated NGO sector will bring more transparency and accountability to ADM in the public sector by responding to standard setting, application of reference projects, and the use of AI/ADM with variety of activities, ranging from soft law approaches, awareness-building, media and public pressure to addressing specific cases with advocacy, strategic litigation and other means.
Eticas is an NGO based in Spain that focuses on exploring societal impact and harms derived from AI systems, both at the technical and societal levels. The support from the AI fund will allow us to consolidate, increase and visibilise our policy and advocacy efforts, including our initiatives with CSOs and work at the policy level in Spain and the EU. Specifically, we plan to focus on disseminating our work and experience on algorithmic audits (both internal and external), algorithmic leaflets, algorithmic registries, AI scores and certification mechanisms. These tools draw on historical examples of how society has negotiated complex technical innovations with significant social impacts, while also incorporating our experience in translating abstract commitments to fairness, transparency and accountability into technical specifications that can be embedded in product design and development. We will enlarge the Eticas team and go beyond our individual projects and initiatives to implement a strategic communications and impact strategy.
EuroMed Rights is a network of 70 civil society organisations spread in 30 countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region. We work to promote and protect human rights and democracy in the region and to influence policies at the EU-level that impact both Member States and countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. We have developed expertise in monitoring EU policies of border externalisation, militarisation and securitisation and the EU’s policies of cooperation with third countries for border control. We have used this expertise to carry out successful advocacy actions targeted at the EU and Member States, and we want to expand this work by increasing our and our members’ capacity to monitor the use of AI technologies in border and migration control. We will carry out a mapping of the actors involved in the development and use of AI technologies for border management and a study of the EU budget used on AI technologies for migration and asylum. We will use this to build an advocacy strategy aimed at demanding increased transparency in the use of AI technologies at borders and human-rights based policies regulating AI technologies’ use in border management.
Czech Republic, €42,600
The European Council of Autistic People (EUCAP) aims to build the capacity of autistic-led organisations in Europe to advocate for the rights of autistic people in all matters concerning Artificial Intelligence. We will conduct a literature review, consultations and a multi-lingual survey to map existing AI research and technology that targets autism, and to better understand what kinds of application are beneficial and acceptable to autistic people. This knowledge will be used to inform autistic communities in Europe and to train key volunteers within our member organisations, providing them with the means to engage effectively with policymakers, legislators, researchers and industry representatives to convey the needs and wishes of autistic people. We also believe that increasing the direct involvement of autistic people in research and development, in a spirit of co-production, can bring benefits beyond just serving our specific needs. We will engage in networking and seek opportunities for partnerships beyond this two-year project to bring more of the positive potential and strengths of autistic people into the field of AI.
With our Disability-inclusive AI project the European Disability Forum wants to make sure that European and national legislation regarding AI systems (including providers and users) includes accessibility requirements and is protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination and violation of their rights. We want to achieve it by multidimensional advocacy work at the European and national level. At the European level we aim to build and strengthen the partnership between organisations working on the proposed EU AI Act. Our second pillar will be EDF’s advocacy work towards the European Parliament, Council of European Union and European Commission as well as relevant ministries in Member States and European and national standards organisations. We cannot be successful without building the capacity of the disability movement on AI, so a big part of our planned activities will cover empowering EDF members in understanding AI (risks and opportunities) and giving them tools to advocate for ethical AI at a national level.
Fair Trials is the global criminal justice watchdog, campaigning for fairness, equality and justice. Fair Trials’ goal is to ensure that European legislation, whether EU, Council of Europe (CoE) or at the national level, contains strong safeguards, including prohibiting the most harmful types of AI applications in policing and criminal justice systems; that these safeguards are enforced at a national level; and that going forward the public, civil society, and those most impacted are vigilant about advances in this technology and challenge actual or potentially harmful uses. This grant from the European AI Fund is supporting Fair Trials’ work to (i) develop policy recommendations from the ground up via dialogue with affected people that builds on Fair Trials’ evidence-base to regulate the uses of AI in policing and criminal justice systems; (ii) mobilise policymakers to regulate AI systems in policing and criminal justice; and (iii) mobilise affected people, civil society and the public to enforce accountability in the uses of AI in policing and criminal justice.
Civio is the first organisation in Spain to specialise in monitoring public authorities and fights for transparent governments and institutions and informed citizens. Inside public administrations, a growing number of technical barriers, cumbersome or openly hostile application processes and opaque algorithms are having a dramatic impact on welfare services, effectively cutting support for those who most need it, while responsibility is evaded and decisions attributed to “the algorithm”. Three years ago, Civio started developing technical, organisational and legal capabilities to assess and control the increasing use of artificial intelligence / automated decision-making (AI/ADM) systems by Spanish public bodies. Civio did so while exposing the risks and flaws of one such system, BOSCO, which validates electricity subsidies applications.
Thanks to the European AI Fund’s grant, Civio will continue developing these skills in a structured and strategic manner. Funding will enable Civio to monitor these issues consistently, detecting and reacting to government decisions as they happen, at a critical time when EU regulation is transposed and adapted into policies and strategies at the national level, and when civil society advocacy is needed to counteract Big Tech influence and hype. Funding will also support campaigning and outreach around an ongoing strategic litigation case, and potential additional ones, exposing the flawed governmental arguments against transparency (i.e. national security, copyright). Finally, investigative journalism will make the impact and consequences of AI visible to people, identify and empower affected communities, and hold decision makers to account.
The Society for Civil Rights e.V. (Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte e.V. or “GFF”) is a donor-funded organization that defends fundamental and human rights by legal means. The organisation promotes democracy and civil society, protects against disproportionate surveillance and advocates for equal rights and social participation for everyone. The GFF is doing pioneering work in the field of strategic litigation for fundamental and human rights in Germany, lodges constitutional complaints against laws that violate fundamental rights and contributes its legal expertise to social debates.
Our strategic litigation efforts concern the use of automated decision-making (ADM) by state and private actors (e.g. in immigration or in online content moderation). We seek to strengthen our efforts to complement our litigation with advocacy work at a pivotal time in EU platform regulation. With the entry into force of the Digital Services Act (DSA), users of online platforms will gain unprecedented new means of enforcing their fundamental rights against platforms’ increasingly automated content moderation processes. Whether those instruments will lead to a tangible increase in platform accountability will depend on their enforcement. Germany, as the largest Member State, will play a central role in DSA enforcement and other platform regulation. We want to put NGOs in a strong position to exercise users’ rights under the DSA against online platforms who use ADM for example in content moderation decisions. To achieve this goal, not only do we need to build strong relationships with the Digital Services Coordinators, but also to empower researchers to make use of the DSA’s data access provisions, and to advocate for a progressive German transposition of the collective redress directive, to collectively enforce user rights under the DSA.
GHA is a 15-year old French NGO with a mission to carry out political advocacy in France and with the EU institutions to ensure policies and resources are effectively addressing health inequalities. With the support of the EU AI Fund we want to capitalise on our existing coalition work and advocacy expertise in France to seize the AI policy agenda, document its impact on access to healthcare, monitor and challenge public investments and AI policies’ implementation, and build greater social accountability. This project will help us build our capacity and those of our coalitions to create a civil society ecosystem capable of mobilising forces to preserve the public interest when it comes to implementation of AI in healthcare.
Homo Digitalis was founded in 2018 and is the first and only digital rights civil society organization in Greece, and a proud member of the European Digital Rights (EDRi) network. Our goal is the protection of human rights and freedoms in the digital age. We strive to influence legislators and policy makers on a national level, and to raise awareness amongst the wider public regarding digital rights issues. Moreover, when digital rights are jeopardized by public or private actors, we carry out investigations, conduct studies and proceed to legal actions. Homo Digitalis has a strong track record of successful actions in the field of Artificial Intelligence and human rights protection in Greece, enjoying victories, recognition and an important network of allies. However, our actions are conducted on a completely volunteer basis and this status limits our strategic impact and negatively affects the organization’s future development and sustainability. With the support of the European AI Fund, Homo Digitalis will be able to hire a full-time Director on AI Matters for two years, set-up the necessary framework for the transition to a full-time organization and strategize itself towards a sustainable future growth. The objective is to take another big step towards the transformation of Homo Digitalis to a strong human rights watchdog in the field of AI development and deployment, especially on matters related to technology-led policing and border management activities.
Serbia & Croatia, €194,000
SHARE Foundation is a Serbian non-profit organisation that fights for the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights and Politiscope is a Croatian privacy watchdog and hub for innovative e-activism practices. The Monitoring AI-backed Surveillance Architectures (MASA) project aims to advocate for better Human Rights standards in the legislative development, as well as implementation, in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Europe. Countries in Southeast Europe have a clear lack of capacities to implement AI systems in a manner that takes human rights into account. In this critical point in time when vital legislation is in a development phase, SHARE Foundation and Politiscope will join forces to advocate and monitor the development and implementation of AI legislation, but also existing, ongoing and planned AI projects in Serbia and Croatia, hoping to develop a model that can be useful in other countries as well.
Systemic Justice is a new NGO that will partner with organisations working on racial, social, and economic justice to bring about change through strategic litigation. Technology harms society’s most marginalised groups, from AI-assisted policing of racialised groups and the surveillance of people crossing borders, to automated decision-making in social service provision. This work explores how technology and AI cause daily, systemic harms to marginalised groups across Europe, and seeks to disrupt and alleviate such harms by pioneering a new model of community-driven litigation. Simultaneously, this project aims to inform the policy and advocacy work of organisations in Europe, forming partnerships with movements and collectives to build their power and knowledge, putting communities in the driver’s seat every step of the way.