EDRi member Bits of Freedom celebrates its 20 year anniversary. Bits of Freedom believes an open and just society is only possible when people can participate in public life without fear of repercussions. For this, every person needs to be free to share information and their private life needs to be respected. The right to privacy and freedom of expression are at the core of this. Bits of Freedom fights for these fundamental rights by contributing to strong legislation, by championing the emancipatory potential of the internet, and by holding those in power to account.
During this anniversary year, Bits of Freedom helped thousands of individuals in Europe gain more control over their data, they called out Facebook for lying to Parliament, fought for a better copyright law, analysed the state of play with regards to the sharing of unevaluated (bulk) data by the Dutch secret services, published our plea to fix its communications ecosystem instead of focussing on symptoms, and combined free tech and a freely accessible webcam stream to create the ultimate stalker tool – and raise awareness for the problems around facial recognition in public space. Bits of Freedom published, of course, their annual review of 2018, and to commemorate the 20 year milestone, launched its very first online shop, including a new line of merchandise modelled by four individuals who, all in their own way, have contributed to Bits of Freedom’s work.
Looking back over twenty years, some things don’t seem to have changed much. Data retention, internet filters and breaking encryption are still among the go-to “solutions” policy makers propose to not-very-clearly defined problems. Although Bits of Freedom’s arguments in response to these knee-jerk reactions at the core remain the same, the environment in which we put them forth is ever-evolving. Similarly, even though the Netherlands was the first European country to commit net neutrality to law, it’s still necessary to continue to fight for equal treatment of all internet traffic.
Some things do change. There is growing awareness for the work of digital rights organisations, and our movement is gaining in size and strength. More and more people are willing to take action. 2020 will most likely be the year in which more than 50% of Bits of Freedom’s work will be funded by individuals. And not a moment too late. Bits of Freedom’s field of work is expanding and civil society actors concerned with its topics are still few and far apart. We need to expand to be able to deal with the increasing attention for these topics, especially at the European level.
Bits of Freedom
My Data Done Right
Facebook lies to Dutch Parliament about election manipulation (21.05.2019)
The Netherlands, aim for a more ambitious copyright implementation! (11.09.2019)
Casual attitude in intelligence sharing is troubling (18.12.2019)
Regulating online communications: fix the system, not the symptoms (21.06.2019)
Amazon’s Rekognition shows its true colors (12.12.2019)
Bits of Freedom Annual Report 2018
(Contribution by EDRi member Bits of Freedom, the Netherlands)