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Grants applications now open

We are now accepting applications for grants to support strategic litigation on digital rights in Europe. The current call for applications is open from 1 – 31 March 2021.

DFF funds two types of activities: litigation and pre-litigation research.

We accept grant applications through regular calls for applications, which are announced on our grants page.

Thematic focus areas

We are particularly interested in receiving applications for strategic cases that:

Advance individuals’ ability to exercise their right to privacy

Examples are cases that:

  • Protect and safeguard individuals against unjustified government surveillance
  • Clarify the scope of protection of personal data under the GDPR
  • Enforce consumers’ rights in relation to the unauthorised collection and sharing of personal data

Protect and promote the free flow of information online

Examples are cases that:

  • Challenge the unjustified blocking, filtering and removal of online content, platforms or services
  • Ensure that online content is protected against the illegitimate use of copyright claims
  • Ensure that net neutrality and the principle of equal access to the internet is promoted and respected in practice

Ensure accountability, transparency and the adherence to human rights standards in the use and design of technology

Examples are cases that:

  • Ensure the respect for human rights in the application of technology by law enforcement, such as in the context of predictive policing
  • Maximise transparency in algorithmic decision making and profiling by government and private actors
  • Set standards to protect individuals against the discriminatory use of technology

We also welcome applications for projects that fall outside these general thematic focus areas if they can contribute to advancing the respect for human rights in the digital sphere. Cases need to have the potential for impact extending beyond the parties directly involved in the case and for bringing about legislative, policy or social change.

What does DFF consider “digital rights”?

DFF works with a broad definition of digital rights. We consider digital rights to be human rights as applicable in the digital sphere. The digital sphere covers both physically constructed spaces, such as infrastructure and devices, and spaces that are virtually constructed, such as online identities and communities.

Geographical scope

DFF accepts grant applications concerning all Council of Europe Member States.

Grant size

As litigators work with different operational models and each case has different dimensions and complexities, grant amounts requested vary. Rather than working with a fixed case support fee, DFF will evaluate each case on its own merits in light of both the general grantmaking criteria and the principle of cost-efficiency. Please note that DFF does not approve many grants of more than EUR 100,000. Applications exceeding that amount should show evidence of co-financing to improve the chances of a grant being awarded.

What does DFF consider “strategic” litigation?

In order to be considered strategic, litigation must have the potential to:

  • have an impact extending beyond the parties directly involved in the case; and
  • bring about legislative, policy or social change.

For further reading, see our three part blog series about strategic litigation.

What does a successful application look like?

In your application, you must demonstrate to have carefully considered and be able to motivate:

  • the concrete objectives of the litigation;
  • a solid legal strategy: which arguments will be made, how they will be framed, and how this will contribute towards achieving the objectives of the litigation;
  • how the litigation objectives contribute to advancing digital rights in Europe: what is the expected impact;
  • the best forum to litigate in order to achieve the pursued objectives;
  • the possible instances of litigation that may be necessary to achieve the litigation objective(s), including appeals and referrals to regional courts;
  • how the litigation relates to other existing or planned activities on the litigation's subject matter – both litigation and otherwise – domestically and in Europe;
  • why litigation is an appropriate tool to employ in this context;
  • the identified risks and weaknesses of the litigation and a strategy for mitigation;
  • a plan to embed the litigation in a broader strategy for change;
  • a plan for implementation in case of a positive outcome of the litigation and mitigation in case of a negative or mixed outcome;
  • a plan to monitor and evaluate progress towards achieving objectives.