Welcome to Liberties' monthly round-up, where we catch you up on the most pressing human rights topics we've been working on. This month, we teamed up with other civil society organisations to ensure that freedom of expression and privacy are not sacrificed on the altar of the political advertisements regulation. While the AI Act and anti-SLAPP directive are both promising initiatives, their potential could be undermined if important issues are overlooked. To help the EU get back on track, we've given some pointers.
In a nutshell
Inaugural Summer School campaign accelerator: Liberties’ spent three days coaching three organisations how to kick-start their advocacy campaigns. It was a blast!
LGBT: During Pride month, Liberties reflected on why the freedom to march in the streets, tell our own stories and demand change is integral to creating a world in which the LGBTQ2IA+ community is loved, supported and equal.
EMFA: Liberties joined 59 other CSOs & journalist associations warning the EU Council that the European Media Freedom Act would be a missed opportunity to meaningfully protect journalists if it buckles to French demands
RightsCon: Liberties’ Head of Tech & Rights, Eva Simon, joined an expert panel discussing the weaponization of data protection at Rightscon 2023
Liberties in Brussels: Liberties Senior Advocacy Orsolya Reich is in Brussels attending DSA Stakeholder Workshops and Advocacy Officer Jascha Galaski was in Brussels to exchange ideas with EFJ and EDRi
#StopDataPorn: Liberties’ supports the collective initiative of activists to bring Pornhub to court for abusing users’ personal data with GDPR complaints Liberties’ spent three days coaching three organisations how to kick-start their advocacy campaigns. It was a blast!
EU Lawmakers Must Uphold Human Rights To Privacy and Free Expression
Liberties and 27 other Civil Society Organisations wrote an open letter to EU lawmakers, calling on them to ensure EU citizen’s right to privacy and free speech are upheld in the draft Political Advertising regulation. The letter, published in Politico EU’s Morning Tech, voiced our concerns about the direction in which the negotiations to finalise a draft text of the regulation are headed. There are still some big red flags, namely an exception for politicians to use our sensitive data and the overly broad scope. Read the open letter here.
EU AI Act: A welcome change but opportunities missed
The European Parliament approved its draft proposal for Europe’s landmark artificial intelligence legislation, the AI Act, on 14 June. While the bill can be celebrated for its shift from self-regulation and abstract AI ethics to more concrete human rights considerations, notably by banning real-time biometric surveillance in public areas, there were still some missed opportunities in the bill. Read our take in full here.
Governments’ Stance on EU Anti-SLAPP Directive Fails to Include Robust Safeguards
Member state governments have thrown their support behind a significantly weaker version of the EU’s draft plan to tackle abusive lawsuits, known as SLAPPs. Instead of backing necessary measures to protect journalists, activists and watchdogs SLAPPs, their position significantly waters down several critical safeguards found in the Commission’s earlier and more ambitious proposal. We’re concerned that such a restrictive approach will greatly limit the directive’s ability to protect SLAPP victims across the EU.
The ball is now in the court of the European Parliament, who will consider the Council’s position and hopefully throw their weight behind the Commission’s more promising initial proposal. To give them a nudge in the right direction, we’ve highlighted 5 key missteps in the Council’s agreed position and 5 key priorities to guide the Commission’s negotiations. Read it here.
In case you missed your explainers...
Different Types of Democracy and Their Main Characteristics
At its core, democracy is about empowering people to influence the society they live in. A democratic society recognises that the role of the state is to serve the people and be guided by their needs and social values. But collective decision-making is challenging and not all democracies look the same. From voting in elections to voting an individual issues, different versions of democracy have emerged. Read our explainer article to learn more.
Handbook Launch: Relying on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for Human Rights Litigation
In Europe, human rights defenders step up when our rights come under threat. Whether defending our right to protest or portray LGBT families in children’s books, they help keep our rights safe from authoritarian politicians. To support their amazing litigation work, Liberties has launched our handbook, “Relying on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for Human Rights Litigation”. Aimed at civil society organisations and human rights defenders, the handbook is an introductory guide on how the Charter can be used for human rights litigation and to advance and protect human rights within Europe. Find out more and download the handbook here.
The handbook compliments our litigation training on the same topic, which took place in March in Brussels.
Coming soon: the training will be made available on our e-learning platform Knowledge Hub in the near future. Watch this space!
Do you want to join us? Check out our vacancies?
Are you a student interested in a career in communications in the NGO sector? We are looking for a Communications & Campaigns Assistant (Intern) to join us for an internship position.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. More information here.
CERV STRIVE 2023 Winners: Big congrats to Liberties’ five member organisations whose winning projects were awarded funding through our CERV STRIVE 2023 re-granting scheme.
Domestic violence: HRMI, report insufficient public debate on the interaction between gender and disability hampers individualised needs assessment and protection against domestic violence. Learn more here.
Secret service abuse: For years, HCLU has been fighting against abuses by the secret services. In their short film, featuring journalist András Dezső, they explore how secret services can become a political weapon in the hands of the Hungarian authorities. Watch it here.
Don't interfere with my digital life! LDH were one of four NGOs who wrote to the Belgian government to raise the privacy and data protection infringements of the Child Sexual Abuse regulation, which Belgium is pushing the EU to press ahead with despite serious legal concerns.
What we're reading
- Populism: Why the far right is surging in Germany - New Statesman
- AI: OpenAI Lobbied the E.U. to Water Down AI Regulation - TIME
- Tech: EU looks to ban companies from making sensitive tech in China - Politico EU
- Media Freedom: Saving the news from Big Tech - EU Observer
Democracy Drinks, Thursday 6th July
In our last edition of Democracy Drinks before we break for the summer, Liberties has invited artificial intelligence expert Pegah Maham to discuss the impact of AI on our human rights with Liberties' Orsolya Reich.
Topic: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence: Are Our Rights in Good Hands?
Location: Banja Luka, Falckensteinstraße 1-2, 10997 Berlin
Time/Date: 18.00 - 20.00, Thursday 6th July
Don't forget to register in advance via Eventbrite.
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Try before you buy | Read a write-up of our past Democracy Drinks events.