Transitioning from 9 years of EDRi policy work

On 12 January 2024, I will step down as EDRi’s Head of Policy after 9 years dedicated to the protection of human rights in the digital age.

By Diego Naranjo · December 12, 2023

I joined EDRi in 2014 as a policy advisor, and I have since contributed to advocating for the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), against the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive copyright, encryption and platform regulation. Back in 2014, the EDRi office was a third of its current size, and the membership was also smaller. From the early days though, I have been impressed by the the strength and impact of the EDRi network and of the EDRi office. I saw how journalists, policy-makers and civil society representatives looked up to and took note of EDRi’s positions on a variety of digital topics. EDRi’s influence was way bigger than what I imagined after having followed EDRi’s work closely during my time at the European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). The analogy of EDRi with a digital David fighting several Goliaths (Big Tech, intelligence agencies, copyright industries…), in a time where EDRi was the only digital-only organisation in Brussels, was accurate, and still is today in an environmental thriving with groups working on digital topics.

In 2019, I became EDRi’s Head of Policy. Despite that the learning curve and the challenges including during the pandemic years, I am proud to have been able to support the EDRi Policy Team and the EDRi network in the preparation of the EDRi policy work plans, strategising and defining priorities of work in the ongoing tsunami of digital policies in Europe and representing the organisation before policy-makers and civil society. The policy team is a very strong team of just 5 permanent Senior Policy Advisors covering an impressive number of areas of work. I am confident in the team’s capacity moving forward, working closely with other EDRi office colleagues and of course the EDRi members and partners.

Of course, we do not work in a vacuum. A big part of our strength, as it has been acknowledged in several occasions, is in the expertise on digital rights among our more than 50 members, affiliates and observers. The EDRi office works daily with our members in dedicated working groups to discuss in detail all the policy proposals that we follow.

I am sure I speak on behalf of others in my team when I say that our work in the office is unthinkable without our members but also without all those other allies with whom we have broadened our coalitions on Artificial Intelligence, platform regulation or encryption, to mention a few examples.

I am looking forward to 2024, both for EDRi and for myself. EDRi has gone through significant changes and growth and we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the network this year. Many challenges and opportunities lay ahead with the new European Commission and Parliament mandate. I am proud to have led the discussions and preparations of the policy recommendations for the 2024 elections (and beyond) for EDRi. Many of these ideas will hopefully guide the network and European digital policies in the coming decade. As for myself, I am looking forward for some peace and quiet after 9 years of prepare late-night comments on amendments, Big Tech scandals, European-wide advocacy actions and intense public speaking. After taking some time for me and my family, I will look forward to keep working for the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.

Let’s continue to build a fair and open digital environment together, stay in touch by connecting on LinkedIn. You can also reach me out here.