EDRi – The European organisation for digital rights

By EDRi · December 22, 2010

You’ve been a subscriber of EDRi-gram for some time, but we have recently
realised that we’ve never given you an overview about who we are and what we
do. Of course, you may check the details on the website, but an overall
picture never hurts.

European Digital Rights, EDRi, is a European not for profit,
non-governmental digital rights organisation which values international
cooperation. EDRi was founded in 2002 by 10 organisations (only NGOs may be
members) from 7 European countries. Since then EDRi membership has
grown constantly in numbers. Currently 29 organisations have EDRi
membership. They are based or have offices in 18 different countries in
Europe. In addition 17 observers participate in the organisation’ mailing
lists and activities. We always think Europe in terms of the Council of
Europe territory – so not just European Union member states.

EDRi was set up because our national activities were not enough anymore. A
presence at the European and international level is needed for the civil
society if we want to make a difference.

EDRi’s objectives are to promote, protect and uphold fundamental human
rights and freedoms in the digital environment. What do we mean by that? For
example: Freedom of expression, privacy and personal data protection, or
access to knowledge.

To this end we strive to monitor, report and provide education about threats
to civil rights in the field of information and communication technology.
One of our recent awareness raising tools is for example the comic book
“Under Surveillance” which we developed together with our international
partners in a project funded by the European Union. Another example is our
bi-weekly newsletter EDRi-gram, which just concluded its 8th year of high
quality reports on digital rights in Europe.

We conduct policy research and offer the results to the public and to
national and international bodies. Recent examples for these are our
contributions to the European Commission’s expert groups on RFID and on the
Internet of Things, our responses to the European Commission and Council of
Europe (CoE) consultations and our work as observers to CoE working groups.

Furthermore, EDRi and its members engage in advocacy at a national and
international level by making representations to bodies such as the European
Union, the Council of Europe, the OECD (EDRi was instrumental in CSISAC
formation and recognition by OECD, and the writing of the CS Seoul
Declaration in 2008, whose endorsement is a requirement for CSISAC
membership), WIPO and the United Nations and organising and participating in
conferences and other public events.

EDRi serves also as a platform for cooperation and common activities and
combines the influence, experience, knowledge, and research of the members.
EDRi’s activities are consequently mainly driven and carried out by its
members’ representatives in addition to their national activities. We are
also constantly looking for new members, NGOs from Europe or especially
active at the European level, that work in the field of digital civil rights
and want to be involved and share their experiences.

Starting from September 2009 EDRi was able to win Joe McNamee as its
Advocacy Coordinator and establish a Brussels office. This important
development is made possible by a grant from Open Society Institute and
additional financial contributions of EDRi members.

Following the experience of the past year, we believe it is a big advantage
for EDRi’s work to ensure a full time presence in Brussels and to maintain
direct contacts with the European Institutions on a regular basis. Not only
for EDRi, but for anyone who believes in freedom of expression, the rule of
law, privacy or access to knowledge. Therefore it is now very important to
use this unique opportunity to build a sustainable representation in

Consequently, individual support is very important to us, to show us that
you are interested too in your digital rights. This could be a kind word for
our work, a critique or even a donation. See your options to support EDRi in
the dedicated article at the end of this issue of EDRi-gram.

For a better overall picture we have prepared a bi-annual report for 2009
and 2010 that also includes some basic financial figures for the past 2

EDRi bi-annual report for the years 2009 and 2010

EDRi members and observers

Comic book “Under Surveillance”

CSISAC – Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council

(contribution by Andreas Krisch – EDRi President)