Policy and Advocacy Core Grant

April 1, 2021

We are extremely pleased to announce the first cohort for our open call. Over the next twelve to eighteen months, our grants will support sixteen organisations to shape and influence public and policy debates in Europe around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automated Decision Making (ADM).

The premise of this fund is that tech policy debates in Europe urgently need more civil society participation. Without a stong public interest voice taking part in the debate about Europe’s digital transformation, Europe—and the world—risk missing opportunities to better society and instead, might choose a path paved with societal harm.

The objective of our first call was two-fold: to strengthen the advocacy and policy capacity of those who already work on AI/ADM, and to bring in new voices to the debate, especially those that are working on issues affected by AI/ADM, as well as organisations that work for, and represent communities that are disproportionately affected by risks and harms associated with AI/ADM.

We are very happy to work with a cohort that represents a broad spectrum of expertise and experience. Given the urgency of this work we have increased the budget for this open call from 1 million to 1.55 million Euros in total:

  • Access Now Europe
  • AW AlgorithmWatch
  • ANEC – The European Consumer Voice in Standardisation
  • ePaństwo Foundation
  • European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
  • European Digital Rights (EDRi)
  • European Patients’ Forum
  • Foxglove Legal (Foxglove)
  • Friends of the Earth Europe
  • GLITCH
  • Health Action International (HAI)
  • International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)
  • Irish Council for Civil Liberties
  • Mnemonic
  • Panoptykon Foundation
  • Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)

Access Now

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 grant making, legal interventions, and convenings such as RightsCon, Access Now fights for human rights in the digital age. Their Brussels team has promoted the organisation’s programmatic goals in the European context on issues such as AI and data protection by advancing legislative processes, empowering users, and holding the private sector accountable. 

With the European Commission’s upcoming legislative proposal on AI, and other initiatives such as the Council of Europe’s Ad Hoc Committee on AI (CAHAI), 2021 will be a crucial year for AI regulation. Access Now will work to ensure that the development and deployment of AI is done in a manner that puts human rights first. In addition to pushing for transparency and accountability around the use of AI, Access Now will continue to advocate against algorithms, automated decision-making systems and other forms of technology which are incompatible with human rights, such as live facial recognition and other forms of biometric mass surveillance. The organisation will also work to tackle the rise of dangerous, pseudoscientific applications of AI, from emotion and gender recognition to highly problematic systems that aim to predict complex social attributes from our biometric data. By pushing back against AI hype and advocating for red lines on harmful applications, Access Now aims to ensure that 2021 is a watershed year in reorienting AI development in a human rights-friendly direction.

Amount awarded: 100,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Algorithm Watch

AlgorithmWatch is the leading civil society organisation in the field of social impact of automated decision-making (ADM) and AI-based systems. The mission of AlgorithmWatch is to protect peoples’ rights and strengthen the common good in the face of increased use of algorithmic systems. This is done by analysing effects of ADM / AI-based processes on human behaviour, pointing out ethical conflicts and explaining the characteristics and effects of these complex processes to a general public. To maximise the benefits of ADM / AI for society, AlgorithmWatch builds coalitions with different communities and disciplines, as well as co-develops ideas and strategies to achieve the responsible and benevolent use of ADM / AI-based systems – with a mix of technologies, regulation, and suitable oversight institutions. 

AlgorithmWatch will develop soft law (impact assessments, transparency reports, standards etc.) and hard law approaches (laws, directives) and campaigns to improve the governance of automated decision-making (ADM) / AI-based systems, with a focus on their use in the workplace and in the public sector. In collaboration with stakeholders from all groups (civil society, governments, academia, private companies and the technical community), AlgorithmWatch will use participatory methods to develop these instruments and design strategies to disseminate and foster adoption of the results. Finally, AlgorithmWatch will build and strengthen coalitions with like-minded organisations and develop strategies to collaborate with communities particularly affected by the use of ADM / AI-based systems.

Amount awarded: 130,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

ANEC – European consumer voice in standardisation

ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation. As one of only three EU-appointed not for profit organisations able to directly intervene in standardisation processes, ANEC represents the consumer interest of all Europeans in the creation and application of technical standards, market surveillance and enforcement, accreditation, and conformity assessment schemes. ANEC works with European Standardisation bodies CEN-CENELEC and ETSI to directly shape the standards that will underpin key European laws and public policies for consumers. 

Europeans’ expectations for AI were outlined last year in the EU’s Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. The next step is to translate these demands into practical technical standards and certification schemes for manufacturers, to complement upcoming legislation on AI. These technical standards and schemes will be crucial to ensure that the design of future consumer products and services directly reflect consumer needs in relation to security, privacy and safety. For this to happen, ANEC, with expert support, will investigate and promote the technical features that will ensure that consumer products are safe, trustworthy and accessible for all, and will disseminate these findings throughout the consumer movement and other civil society actors in Europe.

Amount awarded: 50,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

ePaństwo Foundation

ePaństwo Foundation’s mission is to strengthen citizen rights for access to information, secure freedom of expression, and tackle corruption. ePaństwo wants governments to be transparent and accountable – also when using technology that impacts citizens’ rights and obligations. The Foundation creates tools, conducts research, and strategic litigation that aims to increase transparency and civic participation. The organisation focuses mainly on Central and Eastern Europe, but also conducts projects on a global scale.  

The objective of ePaństwo Foundation is to bring more transparency and accountability in Automated Decision Making in the public sector in Poland, Central and Eastern Europe, and the EU. The Foundation will do this in several ways: by expanding its research activities to better understand the state of play in CEE countries and disseminating results within the EU institutions; improving the transparency of ADM through strategic litigation and other legal instruments such as public consultations; supporting public institutions in building their knowledge and capacity in the field; setting up standards on the transparency of ADM by proposing Algorithmic Impact Assessment forms and other policy documents.

Amount awarded: 80,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

European Network against Racism

ENAR is the only pan-European anti-racism network that combines advocacy for racial equality and facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racism actors in Europe. The organisation was set up in 1998 by grassroots activists on a mission to achieve legal changes at European level and make decisive progress towards racial equality in all EU Member States. Since then, ENAR has grown and achieved a great deal. ENAR works to put an end to structural racism and discrimination across Europe and make a real difference in ethnic and religious minorities’ lives. 

ENAR will build the capacity of its members to upskill their knowledge and to strengthen their advocacy efforts in this field from an anti-racist perspective. As part of this process, ENAR will review the challenges, barriers and impact of Artificial Intelligence from the standpoint of racialised minorities by allocating more resources at the membership and staff levels, increase capacity to deliver written contributions to consultations and claiming presence in high-level discussions with key stakeholders and EU policymakers, and compile more data to monitor  trends on the intersection of race and artificial intelligence. Funding by the European AI Fund allows ENAR to duplicate these efforts at national level and propose a mapping exercise throughout our roundtables and further studies on the challenges.

Amount awarded: 120,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

European Patients’ Forum

The European Patients’ Forum (EPF) is one of the most prominent civil society organisations active in health policy at European level, representing the collective voice of the estimated 150 million patients living with various chronic diseases throughout Europe. EPF is an umbrella organisation of patient organisations across the EU and a driving force to advance patient empowerment and involvement in EU health policy debates, aiming to ensure equitable access to high-level, patient-centred care for all patients in Europe. Founded in 2003 and based in Brussels, EPF engages in policy advocacy and campaigning, and participates in EU-funded projects, organising educational and policy events, and capacity-building initiatives. 

The implications of AI on the health sector and patients are significant, and this funding will allow EPF to escalate its capacitybuilding and advocacy work on AI to effectively ensure a robust patient perspective to contribute to the fast-moving environment of AI at European and national level, leading to a more balanced discussion and just outcomes. With this funding, EPF aims to boost understanding on AI and close knowledge and advocacy capacity gaps within the organisation and its membership to build a more AI-savvy and engaged patient community, which can contribute meaningfully to EU and national policy debates on the topic. 

EPF will amplify its existing surveys and advocacy work on AI to gain a wider community visibility on patient views as well as on EU and national regulatory frameworks on AI in healthcare, hire AI experts to inform staff and guide their work, build members’ knowledge and capacity through tailored activities and resources, and spark debate and deeper discussion at their Congress on Digital Transformation of Healthcare, to create stakeholder awareness and policy influence, alongside other NEF grantees. 

Amount awarded: 90,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

European Digital Rights

The European Digital Rights (EDRi) network is a dynamic and resilient collective of 44 civil rights organisations, experts, advocates and academics working to defend and advance digital rights and freedoms, based in 19 countries. Its mission is to challenge private and state actors who abuse their power to control or manipulate us. EDRi does so by advocating for robust and enforced laws, informing and mobilising people, promoting a healthy, accountable technology market and building a movement of organisations and individuals committed to digital rights and freedoms in a connected world. 

EDRi’s European AI fund project will focus on addressing the harms of AI within a broader social, political and economic context of an expanding security industrial complex, increasing privatisation of essential services and infrastructure, and sustained inequality and discrimination against marginalised communities. We will continue our research and advocacy to ensure the EU AI Regulation takes a fundamental rights-based approach, including prohibitions on applications that violate fundamental rights. EDRi will complement this with wider advocacy work on related EU files in the field of ‘security’, to counter efforts to further expand mass databases in the fields of law enforcement and migration. In addition, EDRi’s coalition building work on AI will be expanded upon, coordinating with civil society working on human rights and social justice issues to ensure there is a broad-based coalition of organisations engaged in decision-making processes at the EU level. 

Amount awarded: 120,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Foxglove

Foxglove is a UK based non-profit that works to build a world where the use of technology is fair for everyone. When the powerful misuse technology to oppress or exclude, Foxglove investigates, litigates and campaigns to fix it.   

AI/ADM have already changed the exercise of power across Europe, yet the public are rarely consulted on the use of these systems.  In this work, Foxglove aims to build a popular counter-current – to undermine the myth that “AI” is a specialist field in which only programmers and data scientists have a say. Foxglove will bring legal cases and tell stories which will contribute to building a vibrant democratic response to AI and ADM. The organisation will also work to empower platform workers to speak up about the automated systems that control their working conditions and bring (and communicate) legal challenges. 

Amount awarded: 90,000 EUR | April 2021 – April 2022

Friends of the Earth, FIAN, CAWR

FOEE is the largest grassroots environmental network in Europe, uniting more than 30 national organisations. FOEE work towards environmental, social, economic and political justice and equal access to resources and opportunities on the local, national, regional and international levels and seek to increase public participation and democratic decision-making.

FIAN international is a pioneer human rights organization in the field of economic and social rights. FIAN supports affected communities in their struggles for food and dignity. FIAN has consultative status with the UN and national sections in 6 European countries.

The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University (CAWR) is a research centre with vast experience in scientific and policy research on sustainable food systems and the development of transdisciplinary methodologies and deliberative democratic processes for agriculture and food knowledges.

FOEE’, FIAN and CAWR will support food producers in the food sovereignty movement ‘Nyeleni Europe’, to become more prominent policy interlocutors regarding data sovereignty and ADM in the digital transformation of the farming sector (including AI and ADM). The network will increase the capacity of food producers to take part in policy and political discussions that shape data infrastructure based on the recognition of farmers’ rights, needs and priorities. In short, by supporting them to become actors in shaping, governing and holding to account the technologies they use.

Amount awarded: 75,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Glitch

Glitch is a UK charity committed to ending the abuse of women and marginalised people online. Through workshops, training, reports and programmes, Glitch equips the intersectional community to become the digital citizens we need in the world today. From grassroots to systemic change, Glitch advocates for an online world that is a safe space for all. 

Thanks to European AI Fund, Glitch can now build both its capacity and confidence in tech accountability and policy work. The addition of expertise, expansion of capacity within the existing Glitch team and deepening of its knowledge of potential applications for AI and ADM will give Glitch great foundation and clarity for change. Over the next 18 months, the charity will also commission a “Using AI to Ethically Address Online Abuse in Europe” Feasibility Study to build research on applications and trends in AI and ADM and online abuse. The study will also add to Glitch’s key policy recommendations to include the ethical deployment of AI and ADM to address the issues of online genderbased violence. Glitch is really excited to continue to build more relationships with organisations and campaigners with lived experience across Europe; ensuring it’s collaborating and amplifying the key principles for a safer online space for all.

Amount awarded: 105,000 EUR | April 2021 – April 2022

Health Action International

Health Action International (HAI) is an independent non-profit organisation. It conducts research and advocacy to advance policies that enable access to safe, effective, affordable and quality-assured medicines and rational medicine use for everyone, everywhere. HAI focuses on creating long-lasting changes to government and industry policies and practices, rather than on temporary solutions. 

HAI’s goal is to strengthen the existing medicines policy expertise by recognising, understanding, and reflecting the impact of AI/ADM in our research, advocacy, and communications activities. To realise this, HAI will follow training on the impact of AI in healthcare, map and engage with relevant experts and organisations in the field, and conduct research to understand AI/ADM’s application in clinical trials design, conduct and interpretation, and its impact on Health Technology Assessment processes. The organisation’s work here will be enhanced by developing a targeted AI and health communications strategy, all coordinated by an AI focal point in our organisation. HAI will utilise our existing memberships and channels, including at the European Parliament and European Medicines Agency, to disseminate our research findings, coordinate advocacy and drive a movement. The goal is to be a reliable voice that can inform and shape the public debate around AI and represent public interests by seeking input from a range of stakeholders.

Amount awarded: 120,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe is a regional network of more than 100 organisations providing services to sex workers and advocating for sex workers’ rights in Europe and Central Asia. ICRSE is sex worker-led and aim to challenge repressive laws and policies that impact sex workers’ human rights in particular in regard to the access to health and justice. 

Thanks to the support from European AI Fund, ICRSE will develop consultations with its members on the impact of AI on sex workers’ rights, particularly in relation to surveillance, privacy and censorship. ICRSE will be able to hire a new team member who will develop resources such as policy papers and tool kits to advocate for the inclusion of sex workers in the digital rights field and the development of AI policies that do not infringe on sex workers’ rights – in particular, the most marginalised sex workers such as undocumented, LGBTQI, or BPOC sex workers. ICRSE will also conduct trainings for sex workers’ communities to build their capacity and knowledge on AI and digital rights.

Amount awarded: 80,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

ICCL is Ireland’s leading independent human rights organisation. Fully independent of business and government, we are fearless in our advocacy. ICCL has been at the forefront of progressive grass roots change in Ireland since our founding and our work is rooted in international human rights legal and policy expertise. 

ICCL’s project will identify ADM that has impact on people’s lives, and use then data protection rights to pursue these organisations for information about their use of ADM. The organisation will publish analysis of each organisation’s ADM and make available all material it obtains (unless in specific cases we are constrained) for others (NGOs, academics, etc.) to use, too. Where relevant, ICCL will draw media and political attention to harmful uses of ADM and use what is uncovered to contribute to policy discussion.

Amount awarded: 120,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Mnemonic

Mnemonic works globally to help human rights defenders effectively use digital documentation of human rights violations and international crimes to support advocacy, justice and accountability. 

Mnemonic has been engaging in advocacy with companies and lawmakers, but we haven’t had the resources to fully support this work. The EUAI Fund will allow Mnemonic to carry forward our advocacy in EU policy arenas. The organisation is going to use its increased capacity to focus on emerging legislation such as the Digital Services Act that has the potential to greatly impact platform transparency broadly and the availability of social media content for archives specifically. Mnemonic will also be able to continue its engagement and leadership in multi stakeholder arenas that include EU officials and governments, including our co-chair post for the Christchurch Call Advisory Network. Lastly, the organisation will continue to advocate directly with tech platform representatives in the EU and elsewhere for policies that will save the vast swathes of human rights documentation that live online from permanent deletion.

Amount awarded: 100,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Panoptykon Foundation

Panoptykon Foundation is a Polish watchdog with a mission to protect fundamental rights in the context of growing surveillance and new technologies. The Foundation keeps an eye on those who collect and use personal data to influence people: public authorities, intelligence agencies, private corporations. We keep track of new legislation, develop alternative regulatory solutions and intervene in strategic cases. 

With the grant, Panoptykon is planning to strengthen its capacity to influence the public debate and the policy discourse on AI/ADM at the EU level and contribute to the capacity of the EDRi network that the Foundation is a member of. In particular, Panoptykon is planning to engage with organisations from outside the digital rights network to gain evidence on AI/ADM related harms from real-life cases and understand experiences of those impacted by AI and their needs towards upcoming regulation. Panoptykon’s work will for a verification of the assumptions on the value of AI/ADM explainability: who and when needs plain language information about automated systems or how to present such information to make it useful – some of the questions asked not only by civil society but also by European institutions. Lastly, Panoptykon Foundation will search for other strategies that can increase AI/ADM accountability, even when explainability is not possible or not expected (e.g., propose new safeguards protecting vulnerable groups).

Amount awarded: 50,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants

The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) is a network organisation that seeks a world where human mobility is recognised as a normal reality, and where all people are guaranteed their human rights regardless of migration or residence status. Bringing together a broad range of experience and expertise, PICUM generates and coordinates a humane and informed response to undocumented migrants’ realities and provides a platform for its members and partners to engage policy makers and the general public in the full realisation of their rights. Founded in 2001 as an initiative of frontline organisations to mobilise support for undocumented migrants, today PICUM leads a network of 167 civil society organisations in 35 countries.

PICUM sets out to bridge the gap between the work of migrants’ rights and digital rights advocates focusing on the criminalisation of undocumented people and the growing use of technology to monitor, identify and surveil them to facilitate increased deportations, often justified on national security grounds. PICUM aims to influence policy debates and public discourse on EU and national level. As a first step, PICUM will produce and consolidate existing analysis, distil this into a clear narrative frame and develop its advocacy objectives concerning the intersections of migration policy, migrant’s rights and digital rights/AI. At this stage PICUM will work with digital rights partners to upskill the staff and its members on AI and its implications across the work areas and clarify its messages and advocacy goals. At the next stage, PICUM will work to explain our analysis and convince advocacy targets and non-expert audiences with its messages. By the end of the project, PICUM will have embedded AI and digital rights into its multiannual advocacy strategy.

Amount awarded: 120,000 EUR | April 2021 – October 2022

^
^