End of activities Bits of Freedom

By EDRi · August 2, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

From 1 September 2006 the Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom (BOF) will cease
its activities. Since its establishment in 2000, Bits of Freedom has
successfully defended digital civil rights, such as privacy on the
Internet and online freedom of speech in the Netherlands. The board
of Bits of Freedom doesn’t see any possibilities to continue the
activities now that the two employees (Maurice Wessling and Sjoera
Nas) have both decided to leave. Another cause for the demise of the
organisation is the continuing uncertainty about the finances. The
foundation does not have any financial reserve and in spite of
generous company sponsors and private donations, it was increasingly
difficult to create a workable budget. The office in Amsterdam will
be closed on 1 September and the organisation will not have employees
any more. Legally, the foundation will not be dismantled, in order to
allow the board to continue the annual presentation of the Big Brother

Since its establishment, Bits of Freedom has advocated the upkeep of
fundamental civil rights in the digital era. During the past 6 years
both governments and companies have initiated many measures and
activities that have endangered civil rights. Governments have
extended their powers in many ways. In stead of dedicated
investigations into the activities of people suspected of serious
crimes, law enforcement authorities silently but massively revert to
data-mining techniques to examine the daily behaviour of innocent
citizens. This sets unwarranted and unprecedented limits to personal
privacy. Necessity and effectiveness of many new legal measures have
– unjustly – been left out of the debate.

During the last six years, Bits of Freedom developed expertise on
many topics, from the legal interception of telephony and internet
communications to privacy & RFID. BOF also dedicated serious research
to other topics such as spam, copyrights and internet notice and
takedown. The organisation has fulfilled an important role as policy
watchdog and has alerted a large audience on many new threats to
civil rights. This was also made possible by collaborations with many
other academic and consumer organisations, individual experts and

Fundamental rights, especially privacy, are of the utmost importance.
Bits of Freedom definitely does not cease its activities with a
satisfied feeling of having accomplished the most important goals. To
the contrary, a bottom-up civil rights movement in the Netherlands
seems more necessary than ever. Bits of Freedom was one of the
founders of European Digital Rights in 2002. The employees and board
of Bits of Freedom wish EDRI success in its important future work.

Bits of Freedom

(Contribution by Maurice Wessling – EDRi-member Bits of Freedom Netherlands)