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@Euaifund Monthly newsletter - Issue #1

EU AI Fund News
Hi! And welcome to our brand new monthly newsletter from the European AI Fund team. Our fund is a philanthropic initiative to shape the direction of tech in Europe. Our long-term vision is to promote an ecosystem of European public interest and civil society organisations working on policy and technology, based on a diversity of actors and a plurality of goals that represents society as a whole. We are currently supported by 10 foundations that work accross Europe and beyond.
If you want to receive regular updates about (tech) policy in Europe, learn about job openings and new funding opportunities, or just stay updated about the amazing work done by the organisations we support, do subscribe. You won’t hear from us more than once a month (we promise!)

Focus: EU AI Regulation 📃
It’s been a busy few weeks for tech policy in Europe. In April, the EU Commission unveiled the world’s first plans to regulate Artificial Intelligence. Even though the proposal contains some major improvements over previous drafts the response from civil society has been luke warm. As the legal experts Michael Veale and Frederik Borgesius have put it: big loopholes, private rulemaking, powerful deregulatory effects"
A key concern is that the proposal lacks protection from discrimination and mass surveillance. EDRi, together with 60+ human rights organisations and 116 MEPs, asked the European Commission to follow through on their promise of creating a truly people centred AI regulation, arguing that:
the majority of requirements in the proposal naively rely on AI developers to implement technical solutions to complex social issues, which are likely self assessed by the companies themselves. In this way, the proposal enables a profitable market of unjust AI to be used for surveillance and discrimination, and pins the blame on the technology developers, instead of the institutions or companies putting the systems to use.
Another area of contention is face recognition and biometric surveillance more broadly. In a joint opinion on the AI Act, the EU’s privacy watchdogs - the European Data Protection Supervisor, which is responsible for ensuring the EU institutions themselves stick to the EU’s data protection rules, and the European Data Protection Board, the bloc’s network of national privacy regulators - called for a general ban on any use of artificial intelligence technologies to recognize human features in public places. This includes faces, gait, fingerprints, DNA, voice, keystrokes and other biometric data.
So many of the organisations we support have written in-depth analyses of the proposed regulation - that’s why we summarised some key points on our website for you.
Focus: Tech and COVID 🦠
We are half way through our tech and COVID grant, which supports six projects that monitor, document and critically analyse the role that data, automated decision-making, and technology more broadly plays in Europe’s ongoing tech response to the pandemic.
Here’s a question that came up in our regular meetings with the Tech and COVID cohort during the past few months: when does a pandemic end? And what happens to the technologies that were implemented as emergency response? We’re planning an event on this question and more for September, so stay tuned.
Here are some of the first results and findings from this work already:
International monitor of vaccine passports and COVID status apps
Automated decision-making systems in the pandemic
Impact Analyses of Covid-19 Tracing Apps in 9 EU Countries
Sphere transitions and transgressions in the EU during the COVID pandemic
Fous: racism, hate and online abuse ⚽️
The racist abuse directed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the Euro 2020 final defeat sparked a debate about online harms and abuse in the UK and beyond. Glitch, a UK charity committed to ending the abuse of women and marginalised people online, has been vocal on the issue for years. Their research shows that race is the largest strand of online hate, with Black people experiencing more of it than other groups. For those who are politically active too, the likelihood of receiving online abuse is even greater. Glitch have developed a free online toolkit to help end online gender-based violence. The organisation also thinks that as digital citizens, we all have a responsibility to practice respectful online etiquette. Here are four key tips to being an online active bystander:
  1. Report abuse where you see it
  2. Support the victim
  3. Reply to the original post respectfully
  4. Amplify the original post
A good start — but still so much to do
More (tech) policy news 💻
Not just COVID and the EU AI regulation has kept so many of us busy. The organisations we are supporting with our policy and advocacy core grant are working on a large variety of legislative proposals and initiatives that will shape Europe’s digital transformation - either directly, or indirectly. Beyond discussions about the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), here are some other developments we’d like to highlight:
New reports
Media highlights
Sarah Chander and Ella Jakubowska – POLITICO
Four-Woman Group That Fought U.K. Algorithms Steps Up for Tech-Worker Rights - WSJ
Campaigns
Some call online ads annoying - we call them unlawful
Reclaim Your Face: Ban Biometric Mass Surveillance!
Public interest jobs on tech, tech policy / AI
Updates from the AI Fund
And lastly, an update from our side. It’s been a packed few months for the AI Fund. In February, Frederike Kaltheuner started her new role as the fund’s Director. In April, Alexandra Toth joined the fund as a Programme Manager.
Getting ready for the next phase of our work
Also in April, we announced the 16 recipients of our policy and advocacy core grant. It was very exciting to meet everyone for an informal meeting. Since then, we have temporarily turned our focus inward to get ready for the next phase of our work.
We fine-tuned our mission statement to better communicate what kind of funder we want to be, and how we view AI and tech more broadly. We’ve also developed a communications strategy, a monitoring and evaluation framework, a convening strategy and a growth strategy. We’ll also publish our very first annual report soon.
We aim to do more than provide funding to the organisations we support. Capacity building, training, and facilitating spaces to connect is part of the fund’s toolkit and approach. We know there isn’t one right way to go about this, so we try to understand what our partners find most helpful and let them be in the driver’s seat. Something else to look forward to: in September we’ll launch a series of events.
Future grants
We are currently working with three external researchers to find out where our grant making is most needed and useful going forward. We plan to publish the results in September and will decide on the the focus of new funding rounds in November 2021.
Enjoy your summer and get some rest! 🏝
Frederike and Alexandra
Questions / thoughts? Get in touch.
We’ll be offline for a while in August, but are back refreshed in September.
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EU AI Fund News

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