fortnightly newsletter about digital civil rights in Europe
EDRi-gram 16.7 – #EDRi15 special
Read online: https://edri.org/edri-gram/16-7/
- 15 years of digital rights achievements
- Digitale Gesellschaft - Fair and free in a digital society
- FIPR - identifying the database state
- ISOC BG - Big speeds, Big Brother, big Bulgarian activism
- Share Foundation - Sharing success
- Wikimedia - A licence for success
- IT Pol - Activism made it to the museum
- Modern Poland Foundation: protecting access to culture and knowledge
AptiRo, EFN & Alternatif Bilisim: Digital rights around Europe
1. 15 years of digital rights achievements
In 2018, EDRi turns 15! The entire network is proud to celebrate this
anniversary and its digital rights victories.
This special edition of the EDRi-gram is an occasion to reflect on the
achievements of the European digital rights movement. We want to share
some of our network's national victories and success stories such as:
- Digitale Gesellschaft's efforts for a respect of digital rights in
- FIPR's work for better government IT systems in the UK,
- ISOC Bulgaria's advocacy in support of privacy rights,
- SHARE Foundation's opposition to internet filters and fight for the
protection of personal data in Serbia,
- Wikimedia Germany's promotion of open access to knowledge and culture
- IT-Pol's decisive influence in parliamentary debates in Denmark,
and many more...
Since 2003, the network’s activists, members, observers and supporters
have worked together to protect human rights in a rapidly changing
technological environment. We’ve grown the network from 10 to 35 member
organisations and 37 observers, our office to eight permanent staff and
our active supporters to around 300 individuals.
We are proud to look back on some major milestones and victories:
- in 2003, our network presented the Big Brother Awards in 14 different
- at the 2005 What the Hack conference, we launched a broad campaign
against the EU's data retention proposals,
- in 2005, a broad coalition of civil rights groups defeated the
Software Patents proposal,
- in 2010, we successfully called for the rejection of the proposal for
mandatory EU-wide web blocking,
- in 2012, we contributed to the defeat of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade
- in 2015, we successfully pushed for an EU Regulation on net
- between 2012 to 2016, we played a key role in the adoption of the EU’s
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
2. Digitale Gesellschaft - Fair and free in a digital society
Our German member Digitale Gesellschft was founded in 2010. The
organisation's main goals are digital rights advocacy and effective
In 2012, the organisation launched a popular online campaign
halbesnetz.de against Vodafone's net neutrality violations.
In 2013, Digitale Gesellschaft launched right2remix.org to call on
to adopt remix rights in the European copyright legislation and invite
people to submit links to his or her favourite remix works.
In 2015, Digitale Gesellschaft advocated successfully for the
establishment of a judicially defined "fair use" exception for the use
of sound samples in German copyright law by assisting as amicus curiae
in the "Metall auf Metall" case in front of the German Constitutional
Court (the exception still has to be confirmed by the Court of Justice
of the European Union, CJEU).
In 2017, EDRi's German member organisation Digitale Gesellschaft largely
contributed to the abolishment of secondary wifi liability in Germany
(see Hearing in the Committee on Economy and Energy)
Finally, the organisation initiated the biggest ever German digital
rights civil-society alliance against the Anti-Hate-Speech-Law (NetzDG),
which sparked a widespread public and parliamentary debate about the law
and brought about a number of severe changes to the original draft.
Right to Remix campaign https://right2remix.org/
Digitale Gesellschaft promotes net neutrality with Vodafail actions
"Right to Remix": Initiative for a European Copyright Reform
Reckless social media law threatens freedom of expression in Germany
3. FIPR - identifying the database state
The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) is the leading
think tank for Internet policy in Britain and was established in May 1998.
FIPR's biggest win to date came in 2010 when the new UK coalition
government abolished a number of systems against which we and other NGOs
had campaigned. The headline was the abandonment of the previous
government's ID card proposals, which a wide range of NGOs and others
A more specific victory for FIPR was the abandonment of two children's
database systems that were also under construction:
- Contactpoint, a "junior ID card system" and would share all childrens'
medical, school and other records between public sector workers,
- eCAF, a database specifically for social workers.
The first of these was abolished when the Conservative-Liberal coalition
government took power and the second following a formal review by
Professor Eileen Munro, a member of FIPR's Advisory Council.
In 2009, FIPR produced a report, Database State , for the Joseph
Rowntree Reform Trust, a key liberal and Quaker charity, that criticised
a number of government IT systems for being unsafe and illegal. This
report became Liberal Democrat policy, and once they took power, some of
it was implemented.
FIPR's first report on the controversial children's databases was for
the UK Information Commissioner in 2006. It laid the groundwork for the
subsequent report for the Rowntree Trust.
FIPR report on children's databases – likely to harm rather than help
FIPR workshop on snooping-laws in the UK (22.11.2003)
FIPR campaign against new copyright directive (05.10.2005)
4. ISOC BG - Big speeds, Big Brother, big Bulgarian activism
Bulgarian EDRi member Internet Society Bulgaria (ISOC Bulgaria)
organised several Big Brother Awards, in cooperation with the Access to
Information Programme. By spreading the word about abuse of privacy and
digital rights, they managed to raise awareness in the country among a
In 2012, its member of the Board Dimitar Ganchev published an article
"We may be planting potatoes, but we have the fastest Internet", in
which he criticised the European Commission regarding the inaccuracy of
their data on Bulgarian internet connectivity.
ISOC Bulgaria was also part of a number of European ISOC chapters to
address the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) World
Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) (read more here
and here), and was part of the movement against Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement (ACTA).
Big Brother Awards 2013 Bulgaria (13.02.2013)
Update ISOC Bulgaria (09.02.2005)
ISOC Bulgaria criticises report US Trade Representative (02.06.2005)
5. Share Foundation - Sharing success
SHARE Foundation is a Serbian non-profit organisation founded in 2012,
with the goal to fight for the public interest in every critical battle
affecting digital rights.
In November 2016, EDRi member SHARE contributed to derailing a Draft
Strategy on Intellectual Property 2016-2020 by the Serbian Ministry of
Education, Science and Technological Development. The proposed document
contained measures such as the removal of “disputed” websites, without
distinguishing different types of the content, it proposed seizures and
takedowns of domain names of websites facilitating copyright
infringement, collecting data on transactions from online payment
service providers and online advertising providers, seizing of property,
and so on. It also included plans for an intelligence database for
information regarding locations and suspicious persons, accessible to
all state institutions authorised to enforce "intellectual property"
rights. SHARE Foundation gathered civil society, the IT and startup
community, cultural and scientific institutions, entrepreneur
associations and media organisations to stand against this draft, which
was not adopted in that form.
In November 2015, the Ministry of Justice presented a problematic Draft
Law on Personal Data Protection. It proposed a very wide range of
possibilities to access citizens’ personal data without adequate control
mechanisms and failed to regulate numerous forms of personal data
processing, such as video-surveillance, biometric data processing, and
direct marketing. The Commissioner for Information of Public Importance
and Personal Data Protection, together with SHARE Foundation and civil
society, media and human rights organisations heavily criticised the
draft, which was eventually dropped. In late 2017, the Ministry of
Justice published a new Draft Law on Personal Data Protection for public
discussion, based on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In late 2014, a proposal to amend the Gambling Law was introduced in the
National Parliament of Serbia. It contained a provision which would
compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to gambling
websites which did not have permission of the Serbian Gambling
Administration to provide gambling services. Had it been adopted, this
provision would effectively introduce national internet filtering, with
numerous consequences for internet freedoms. SHARE Foundation wrote a
legal and technical analysis of this dangerous legislation and called
all relevant actors to join the fight against the proposed amendments.
The Government of Serbia soon pulled the proposal from the parliamentary
In December 2014, in the biggest personal data leak in history of
Serbia, names and unique personal identification numbers of more than
five million citizens of Serbia, almost entire adult population, were
publicly available on the official website of the Privatization Agency
of Serbia. SHARE Foundation found out about the database, notified the
Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data
Protection, and the access to the database was promptly disabled. After
the database had been disabled, SHARE Foundation notified the public in
order to prevent further abuse of personal data.
During public discussions on new media laws, SHARE Foundation proposed
that social networking pages and profiles, personal websites, blogs,
forums and other online platforms are not considered media by law,
unless they willingly register as media in the Media Registry, kept by
the Agency of Business Registers of Serbia. Law on Public Information
and Media, adopted in 2014, Article 30, paragraph 2 specifically states
that “...media, in the sense of this law, are not: platforms, such as
internet forums, social networks and other platforms which enable free
exchange of information, ideas and opinions of their members, nor any
other independent electronic publication, such as blogs, web
presentation and similar electronic presentations, unless they are
registered in the Media Registry, in accordance with this law.”
Member in the spotlight: SHARE Foundation (19.04.2017)
SHARE Foundation honoured with a certificate of gratitude (8.02.2017)
Info warfare in Serbia: The hidden hand of internet interventionism
Online freedoms in Serbia still under threat, analysis shows
6. Wikimedia - A licence for success
In 2014, EDRi member Wikimedia created guidelines on recommended
standard licences, datasets and charging for the reuse of public sector
information documents - while they are "only" guidelines, they contain
strong rules. Wikimedia is now trying to make them the basis for the
upcoming reform of the Directive on Public Sector Information (PSI
Moreover, Wikimedia worked for the new copyright exception in Belgium,
freedom of panorama. The same exception was also added to the Armenian
copyright law and is now discussed in the Ukrainian, South African,
Swedish and European parliaments.
Recent contributions by the organisation to the defence of digital human
- Wikimedia switched its sites from http to https, which had the effect
that all articles are now available in Iran (which was blocking some
- Wikimedia is currently suing the NSA over surveillance and the court
ruled that we have "legal standing" (a first small victory).
- Wikimedia celebrated a court decision in Germany about leaving the
birthday of a public figure in the article (which might be considered
good or bad, depending where one stands).
French intelligence wants Wikipedia to delete online content
Swedish Supreme Court rules against Freedom of Panorama (6.04.2016)
7. IT Pol - Activism made it to the museum
In 2005, Danish EDRi member IT-Political Association of Denmark (IT-Pol)
successfully advocated for a resolution (B-103) for open standards in IT
systems used by the government, which the Parliament adopted unanimously.
In 2007, IT-Pol produced a Linux Live CD containing the Tor anonymity
network software combined with encryption and privacy tools (similar to
Tails today), that was used in the campaign against the Danish
implementation of the Data Retention Directive. While campaign itself
was not successful, the CD Polippix gained media attention. A Danish
trade union for IT professionals distributed the CD to its members. The
distribution of the CD was criticised by the Minister of Justice but
nevertheless, years later the CD is still on public display in the
Danish Telecoms Museum.
In 2013, a proposal to introduce e-voting (trials) in Denmark was
dropped after public criticism from IT-Pol and other organisations at an
expert hearing in the Danish Parliament.
No anonymous Internet usage in Denmark? (29.06.2011.)
Denmark: Our data retention law is illegal, but we keep it for now
Denmark allows massive retention of location data for mobile internet
8. Modern Poland Foundation: protecting access to culture and knowledge
Modern Poland Foundation, EDRi’s member organisation from Poland, is
working for the protection of open access to culture and knowledge. This
article highlights their most notable successes.
The Modern Poland Foundation built the most popular Polish free online
library Wolne Lektury which has gained an audience of 5,7 million
users. Since its launch over 4400 literary texts were published. Tools
for digitizing and releasing books in various formatsand via mobile
applications, an OPDS catalog, the OAI-PMH protocol and its open API are
constantly being developed. All of the software is freely available
under the GNU AGPL licence. The library hosts public domain works,
edited and adapted for the modern audience, as well as contemporary
works acquired for distribution under free licenses.
Between 2012 and 2015, the Foundation was involved in strategic
litigation in the area of the public domain. A court decision was sought
regarding the term of copyright protection for the works of Janusz
Korczak, a Polish-Jewish children's books author (King Matt the First)
and pedagogue. Although his death in 1942 was well documented, some
post-WWII laws on missing persons were used to prolong the copyright
term of his works to 2017. The court's decision put an end to this
practice, and recognised the Foundation's reasoning.
Another important intervention by the Foundation was the case of da
Vinci's “Lady with an Ermine”. In 2012, the Polish government paid one
million Polish Zloty for using the image of the painting, which is
already in the public domain. A FOIA requests was filed by the
Foundation to the Ministry of Culture and the Wawel Castle, and brought
considerable media attention to the case. The case was used in
subsequent interventions in consultations regarding copyright and state
involvement in culture.
Within the Prawo Kultury (Law of Culture) project, the Foundation led
information campaigns and educational activities on the topic of
copyright. These activities included:
running a social campaign “I have the right to...” aimed at raising
awareness in the area of copyright and to educate the general public
about their freedoms regarding limitations and exceptions specified in
organising the annual CopyCamp conference about copyright since 2012
with the aim of fostering a balanced and multi-sided debate about
copyright in its political and social contexts.
offering a copyright law help desk
helping citizens understand copyright and free licences by running an
information website, including a comprehensive guide on copyright
organising trainings for non-governmental organisations, public
institutions, businesses as well as for artist and student groups
editing and publishing a textbook for first year university
intellectual property classes together with ready to use slides for
download and use by university teachers, under a CC-BY-SA license
regularly publishing texts (including translations) crucial to the
debate on the shape and changes to the copyright law (including such
international authors as: Philippe Aigrain, Eben Moglen, Cory Doctorow)
hosting a research project “Right to Culture: Future Scenarios” for
the development of scenarios for future creation, sharing and use of
culture and the assessment of its impact on the state of society,
culture, education, creative sector and copyright system in Europe in
the perspective of 2040.
Commission claims that general monitoring is not general monitoring
Is anti-plagiarism software legal under EU Copyright legislation?
9. AptiRo, EFN & Alternatif Bilisim: Digital rights around Europe
Alternative Informatics Association (Alternatif Bilisim)
The Internet Ungovernance Forum, co-organised by the Turkish EDRi member
Alternative Informatics Association (Alternatif Bilişim) was a
collective victory in many ways. Held in parallel with the controversial
Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul in September 2014, it had symbolic
value for Internet freedoms, giving inspiring input with contributions
from celebrity technologists as well as renowned experts.
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
Romanian EDRi member Association for technology and Internet (ApTI) led
public debates regrading controversial proposals from the Romanian
government and the Romanian Intelligence Agency (SRI) regarding the
right to privacy. The public debates and actions led to four decisions
in the past ten years by the Romanian Constitutional Court that agreed
with the organisation's position.
Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN)
The Norwegian EDRi member Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN) made its
breakthrough in national media around 2001-2002 thanks to the “DVD Jon”
court case. Jon Lech Johansen was sued and arrested for decrypting a DVD
copy control system to view DVDs on the Linux operating system and for
writing the programme that enabled the availability on the internet. EFN
advocated for his acquittal and full redress.
2015 Internet Report on Turkey released (24.02.2016.)
New data protection law in Turkey (20.04.2016.)
State of emergency worsens digital crackdown in Turkey (16.11.2016)
Icing on the cake: Romanian cybersecurity law unconstitutional
Romania: After PNR, a proposal for retention of tourist data
Romania: Culture Ministry rallies copyright lobbyists (24.01.2018.)
Norway: no more court cases for DVD-Jon (15.01.2004.)
Member Spotlight: Electronic Frontier Norway (23.08.2017.)
10. Recommended Reading
EDRi-gram - 15 years of digital rights news (and counting)
EDRi-gram 300: Digital rights news from 2025
20.04.2018, Bielefeld, Germany
Big Brother Awards 2018 Germany
02.05.2018, Berlin, Germany
re:publica 2018 – POP #rp18
16.05.2018, Toronto, Canada
RightsCon Toronto 2018
European Journalism in the Digital Age: A Legal and Practical Boot Camp
for Journalists, Activists and Lawyers
EDRi-gram is a fortnightly newsletter about digital civil rights by
European Digital Rights (EDRi), an association of civil and human rights
organisations from across Europe. EDRi takes an active interest in
developments in the EU accession countries and wants to share knowledge
and awareness through the EDRi-gram.
All contributions, suggestions for content, corrections or agenda-tips
are most welcome. Errors are corrected as soon as possible and are
visible on the EDRi website.
Except where otherwise noted, this newsletter is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. See the full text at
Newsletter editor: Heini Jarvinen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Information about EDRi and its members: http://www.edri.org/
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