About our organisation
Bits of Freedom was founded in 1999. We shape internet policy in order to advance an open and just society. One in which people can hold power accountable and effectively question the status quo. We do this through advocacy, campaigning and litigation, in the Netherlands and Brussels.
Bits of Freedom is a foundation with thirteen staff members, a board and an advisory committee. Hundreds of volunteers contribute their efforts each year. We are a founding and active member of European Digital Rights (EDRi). We receive financial support from thousands of donors and numerous company donors, foundations and project subsidies. To safeguard our independence, we do not accept money from governments.
Our team is composed of a mix of talented starters, experienced staff and promising trainees and interns. We are an inclusive workplace, with a diversity of perspectives. Our personnel policy promotes equal opportunities and aims to contribute to correcting inequality in our organization, network and sector. Our employment policy is based on five pillars: socioeconomic security, equal opportunities, work autonomy, a healthy balance between work and private life, and professional development.
Last year, we welcomed Martijn de Heer, Joran van Apeldoorn and Ilja Schurink to our team. Our advisory committee said goodbye to Eleni Kosta and Antoinette Hertsenberg. They will be sorely missed!
More room for (young) talent
We adopted policy that encourages us to supervise a minimum of two interns and one trainees per year. One reason for this is our desire to shape our own field of work, including by increasing the influx of talented starters in civil society. But it is also because we believe that there is much that we can learn from trainees and interns. We consciously offer these positions to individuals who have less easy access to our field or are underrepresented in it.
Increasing our public-interest technology capacity
In support of the European digital rights field, we hired two public interest technologists, namely a researcher and a web developer.
Our technical researcher, Joran, is tasked with collecting evidence of unlawful practices within Big Tech and our data-driven government. This information is translated into policy demands, awareness campaigns and legal action. In his initial months with us, Joran immersed himself in the world of policy, set up research infrastructure and began building a European network of tech-experts, policy people and campaigners. In 2022, we plan to initiate a number of small-scale campaigns based on technical research, as well as to fortify the new research infrastructure to facilitate effective collaboration.
In 2022, our web developer, Martijn, investigated the state of play with regards to the use of tooling in the digital rights field. As digital rights organizations, it is imperative that our use of technology is in line with our values, convincing and inspirational. At present, that is not the case in a number of areas. The initial interim report is out and will be followed up on in 2023. Martijn also designed a number of new campaign tools and tested them within our organization. In the coming year, these will be further developed and made available to our European affiliates.
Investing in European campaigns
We're a small organization. But through smart use of advocacy and public pressure, we nevertheless get a lot done. We want to take the experience we've gained in the field of public communication and apply it to European campaigning challenges. Because more and more important legislation is made in Brussels, and national enforcement is increasingly taking on a European dimension. In the coming year, we plan to develop new tools and share these, and our expertise, with our European partners. We're also currently working with other European organizations on a pilot campaign, whose central theme is raising awareness about the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act and influencing how they are enforced. We hope that this pilot can serve as a model for future large-scale campaigns.
Strengthening advocacy through collaboration
In 2022 we met with over 20 civil society organizations to investigate the impact of Big Tech on civil society's ability to achieve its goals. We heard from organizations fighting against racism and for climate rights, and the rights of migrants, undocumented people and women. Different causes, but often with very similar problems: censorship, online hate and privacy concerns. In partnership with Controle Alt Delete, Digital Freedom Fund and EDRi, we organized the first European edition of the annual Color of Surveillance conference, which explores the interface between racism and surveillance. Colour of Surveillance held space for activists and professionals active in this field to exchange and discuss, and we moderated a panel discussion on the current Dutch childcare benefits scandal. Also last year, we launched the four-part video series Data. Zo zit dat in cooperation with Controle Alt Delete, the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), the Centre for research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Public Spaces. Finally, we joined forces with Amnesty International, Open State Foundation and Waag to better align and reinforce our advocacy work in The Hague. We look forward to building on our joint work, and continuing these collaborations in the upcoming year.