Announcing the new Ecosystem grantee partners: From protecting AI data workers’ rights to investigating the use of harmful AI by EU’s border control and security 

We are excited to introduce 7 new grantee partners that we are warmly welcoming to our Ecosystem this month. Their projects have been selected in a strong competition among 159 organisations that applied to our Ecosystem grants call this summer. The Ecosystem grants programme is a new programme by the European AI & Society Fund, designed to support organisations to implement projects with AI policy focus, with a grant of up to €30.000. 

The selected projects will work on the protection of the rights of platform and data workers who are oftentimes exploited by wealthy tech corporations, build capacity of Muslim organisations to engage in advocacy around cases of anti-Muslim bias in algorithmic systems and forge connections between racial-justice activism in Europe. The grants will also support new research on the use of generative AI tools in political advertising and enable the investigation of harmful AI deployment by the police and border control in the EU. The programme will as well support building compelling narratives and public campaigns in Italy around reducing AI risks and empowering people to engage on the European AI Act. 

The total budget allocated for the Ecosystem Grants Programme in 2023 – 200.000 – could only support a fraction of the brilliant and timely work that organisations across Europe are proposing to undertake. The total combined applications to this call represents 4.5 million, symbolic of the growing need for public interest work on AI, as well as the appetite among the civil society organisations to deliver change in this emerging field. 

The Selection Committee and reviewers particularly considered the urgency of the proposed work in response to recent developments on generative AI and the increasing use of AI among public institutions and businesses. They were also guided by our objective to widen the diversity of the ecosystem supported by the Fund. The selected projects and organisations enrich our ecosystem. They bring new feminist perspectives on tech, add new topics to the thematic diversity and expertise, and include voices of racialised communities.  

 

Meet the Ecosystem grantee partners 

 

Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice |Belgium| €30.000 

Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice is a people of colour-led initiative working to advance rights and justice for all people in Europe. They address racism at the EU level by ensuring that racialized people are at the centre of decision-making on policy and legislation in the EU.  

The Ecosystem grant will support Equinox in organising a civil society convening at the intersection of digital, racial, and migrant justice, forging connections between activism across Europe. 

Equinox will build its own capacity and that of other racial justice organisations to engage in legislative proposals and advocate for a positive vision of re-distribution of resources away from discriminatory and surveillant technologies. Equinox will build knowledge to counter digital surveillance in a way that is rooted in racial justice by centring modes of resistance and working towards systems of care that meet the needs of racialised people. 


Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) | Europe |€30.000 

The Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) is a pan-European network, with a mission to empower Muslim youth and build a diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe. They use their voice to represent the rights and civil liberties of young Muslims in policymaking 

The Ecosystem grant will support research, capacity building and advocacy around cases of anti-Muslim bias in algorithmic systems. FEMYSO will develop a database and a report compiling case studies of AI and Islamophobia in Europe, that will be a useful knowledge-building and advocacy resource for the community.  

FEMYSO will also organise a series of regional trainings across Europe to build the capacity of young Muslim communities and organisations to lead on advocacy on safer AI. This will bring Muslims as a group that is affected by deployment of discriminatory AI closer to the development of tech policies.  


Novi Sindikat |Croatia | €30.000 

Novi Sindikat is a trade union in Croatia dedicated to advancing workers’ rights. Novi Sindikat serves as a unified platform for workers to voice their concerns, negotiate for living wages, and enhanced benefits. In 2023, while closely collaborating with platform workers, Novi Sindikat took a proactive stance in organising and representing the interests of platform workers in response to reWolt protests.  

With the Ecosystem grant, Novi Sindikat will support collaboration between trade unions advocating for and supporting the implementation of the EU Platform Workers Directive, empower them to engage in collective bargaining in the AI-driven world of work and effectively protect workers’ rights 

The project will also equip trade unions with the necessary knowledge and digital literacy skills to effectively navigate the complexities of AI applications in workplaces, such as exploring issues related to data recovery as means to reverse current power imbalances at work 


 Statewatch |UK |€29.453 

Statewatch produces and promotes critical research, policy analysis and investigative journalism to inform debates, movements and campaigns on civil liberties, human rights and democratic standards. Statewatch seeks to provide information, analysis and tools for civil society in the UK and the EU to hold the state to account and achieve positive social change. 

Statewatch’s project will investigate the EU’s deployment of potentially harmful AI systems for border control, migration and security. 

The goal of this project is to increase democratic scrutiny and oversight of the EU’s ongoing activities to operationalise AI use by border guards, law enforcement and migration authorities. Use of AI is currently being encouraged through an AI roadmap managed by a working group of eu-Lisa, the EU’s justice and home affairs IT systems agency. Statewatch will communicate their findings and engage with the Members of the European Parliament to increase their awareness and to demand change and democratic accountability.   


Superrr Lab | Germany | €26.500 

SUPERRR is a community and a lab. They develop visions and projects to create more equitable futures by researching technologies, building networks and shaping new narratives. SUPERRR challenges existing paradigms by bringing new perspectives and stakeholders to the discussion. SUPERRR has led extensive work with social media content moderators and data workers in Germany and Kenya.  

SUPERRR’s project aims to secure fair working conditions and rights for frontline AI workers that are oftentimes exploited by wealthy tech companies. The project will enable SUPERRR to identify levers to improve AI workers’ working conditions through policy engagement on the Supply Chain Act (EU) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) enforcement.  

SUPERRR will conduct research to map and understand the landscape, gaps and opportunities for change in tech policy and regulations and directly engage with AI data workers to contribute to policy initiatives and form demands.  


The Hermes Center (Associazione Hermes) | Italy | €30.000 

The project is a joint-endeavour between the Hermes Center and the Good Lobby Italy. Hermes Center protects people’s digital rights, through the publication of research and investigations, support and dissemination of open and free software and continuous advocacy and awareness raising activities.  

The Good Lobby is a non-profit civic start up committed to equalizing access to power for a more democratic and inclusive society. They support grassroots participation and civic lobbying to counter the disproportionate power and negative influence of powerful corporate lobbies 

In this joint project, The Good Lobby Italy and the Hermes Center will build compelling narratives and public campaigns around risks of AI and the impacts of the European AI Act in Italy. Organisations will organise an exhibition to bring new people into the debate and politics of AI and surveillance technologies. They will also run a social media campaign to mobilise people for change.  


Who Targets Me | UK |€29.825 

Who Targets Me works on online political advertising transparency and accountability. They develop software tools that explain the uses and increase transparency of digital political ads, research into how campaigns use them, and advocate for better ad transparency from tech platforms and in law. 

The Ecosystem grant will support new research and advocacy on the use of generative AI in political advertising. The project will explore the (potential) use of generative AI in political advertising on online platforms, the associated risks and the necessary safeguards and legislative frameworks.  

It will enable the organisation to shape policy responses, as well as platforms’ approaches, and to highlight areas of risk as the platforms compete to offer new AI-powered features.  

 

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