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 graded the EC's first draft of the Media Freedom Act, and discussed how the EP can redeem itself after Qatargate.
In a nutshell
Artificial Intelligence. Liberties’ Senior Advocacy Officer Orsolya Reich joined other experts in a panel discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence on human rights.
Media privilege. We joined 14 digital rights organisations calling on the European Commission to reject Article 17 in the Media Freedom Act proposal & instead focus on the systemic issues which dictate what we read online.
Qatargate | The EP Needs to Restore Public Trust. Broadening The Right to Access to Information Is Crucial
2022 has gotten off to a turbulent start for the European Union. Qatargate pulled back the curtain and revealed that Europe, far from being a superiorly beautiful garden (remember Josep Borrell’s infamous gaffe), is in fact rotten at its core. In our latest Speechbag episode, we spoke to Nicholas Aiossa, Deputy Director of Transparency International – EU, who told us he “wasn’t surprised one bit” when the cash-for-influence scandal broke. According to Aiossa there is little to no monitoring of MEPs, and ethical violations that do come to light largely go unpunished. Listen here.
The near absence of transparency and accountability rules creates the ideal conditions for corruption to flourish, with no clear structures in place to stop politicians behaving unethically (apart from, ahem, political integrity.)
But if recent statements by the EU are to be believed, time is up for the culture of impunity.
Earlier this month, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola unveiled a 14-point plan to weed out corrupt behaviour in a bid to restore public faith. But winning back the trust of EU citizens will require more than cosmetic changes. Broadening the right to access information about the lobbying activities of EU politicians will be crucial. As our recent article discussed, the ability for ordinary people to access information about public activities is essential to prevent corruption and strengthen public trust. Read it here.
Media Freedom Act | 1st Draft: Good Attempt, But Risks Being a Missed Opportunity
The EU intends to step up and tackle the declining state of media freedom in Europe by introducing European-wide media rules. The initiative is much-needed, as shown by Liberties’ 2022 Media Freedom Report, which illustrated the mounting threats faced by journalists and media outlets. Liberties took a look at the draft version of the proposed legislation, the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), presented by the European Commission in September.
Our verdict: a promising first attempt, however legal loopholes risk undermining its effectiveness, while several important concerns are overlooked. The policy brief we sent to the Commission with our recommendations was picked up by Politico Pro. You can check out a non-paywalled summary version here.
Data Privacy Day | Irish Data Protection Commission In Hot Water As Meta Found to Have Breached GDPR
Last Saturday was international Data Privacy Day, but you can be sure it passed without much fanfare in Ireland. Earlier this month, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) landed in hot water after the conclusion of a 4½ year investigation by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). The investigation looked into the DPC’s verdict of a case concerning Meta’s (the artist formerly known as Facebook) processing of users’ personal data for the purpose of targeted ads, and whether Meta was obliged to make clear to the user how their data was being used, seek extra permission, and offer an opt-out clause. The DPC found that Meta hadn’t breached the GDPR, however the EDPB voted, with an overwhelming majority, to overturn that decision. Meta was slapped with a €210 million fine as a result. A win for privacy!
Liberties Knowledge Hub | First Graduates Awarded Their Diplomas
Liberties’ knowledge hub, an e-learning platform for non-profits to grow their skills, went live in December, and this month saw our first graduates awarded their diplomas. Boy, they grow up fast!
Do you work for an NGO? Thinking about brushing up on your messaging skills?
The knowledge hub offers free, easy-to-follow courses that will help make your advocacy work and campaigns more impactful. The currently available learning material is an exciting crash course on framing & messaging, and we’ll be adding more courses throughout 2023 - so watch this space. Register for a course today!
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.
Liberties has a full calendar next month, here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming down the line.
Rule of Law 2023 Report Release Party
Next month will see Liberties release its fourth annual Rule of Law Report.
Compiled in collaboration with more than 30 partner organisations, it is the most comprehensive audit of the rule of law by an NGO network in Europe and supplements the European Commission’s Rule of Law Report, due to come out later in the year.
I want a taster | Check out our Rule of Law Report 2022.
I need a refresher | Read our rule of law explainer.
Democracy Drinks Berlin | Save the Date
Our first Democracy Drinks Berlin event of the year will take place next month.
When? 18.00 - 20.00, Thurs 16th Feb
Where? Ritchie Café & Bar, Kreuzberg
We're keeping our guest speaker hush hush for the moment, more details will be revealed soon. RSVP here.
How do I stay in the loop? | Shoot us an email at email@example.com to be added to our mailing list.
Why all the fuss? | Here’s a quick round-up of the discussion at our last event.