With the publication of our annual transparency report we briefly revisit the year 2021. The second year of the pandemic was again very inspiring, busy and exciting for the team here at epicenter.works.
Although the team spent most of the year working from home, we never lost our sense of community thanks to our good internal infrastructure. We met for the occasional team afternoon at the office or out of doors for small celebrations of our successes.
March of 2021 found us already deeply involved the debate surrounding the EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate (Green Pass); we were the only privacy NGO to take an active part in the legislative process at the European Parliament by tabling amendments. In late April, we achieved a first partial victory. The European Parliament passed legislation that met all of our demands to strengthen data protection in the Digital Covid-19 Certificate. By early June, after much further debate, the finished article was a really good law on the EU Green Pass. Here you can read again the five reasons why this EU law is very well made.
In April we exposed severe security vulnerabilities in the planned Austrian Green Pass system. Our publication caused the system to be discontinued immediately, as it would have affected (German) the sensitive health data of all members of the social security system in Austria. It was not the only vulnerability we found in 2021. In December, the newspaper derStandard and we discovered massive vulnerabilities (YT link | German) in the Austrian epidemiological reporting system.
In the summer, the entire team studied and analysed the investigation files against Julian Hessenthaler, the mastermind behind the so-called Ibiza tapes. We found the criminal charges to be politically motivated and warned of the deterrent effect on future would-be whistleblowers. We redacted all personal data in the files, put them online, and together with 18 international and national human rights organisations made a loud and clear statement on this maladministration of justice.
Following the surprise ECJ ruling that led to the ban of zero rating, we asked BEREC to implement the the rules on net neutrality comprehensively and as intended. The ruling also confirmed the legal opinion we had held for many years.
The Financial Side
We want to start by saying a heartfelt “THANK YOU”!
Thank you to all the dependable supporting members and donors who regularly support our independent work with small donations. This funding source is steadily growing and remains our largest and most stable one (62.77%). We are very grateful to you.
We also received a grant from the Open Society Foundations, as well as two project grants (26.96%). In the autumn of 2021 we launched a major campaign against the algorithm the Austrian unemployment agency wants to use, and in December we started our education project. Both projects last into 2022 and are supported by the Lower and Upper Austrian labour chambers’ future fund. Despite the pandemic, we managed to hold workshops and talks to obtain funding for our association (6.84%). Our sponsor contracts accounted for 2.36% of overall funding. We operated economically and were again able to transfer funds to the reserves of the association (8.71%).
Our resource use efficiency rate was, as usual, above 81%. Expenses consisted of 61.02% for statutory purposes and 29.64% for administration. Public relations activities like press releases accounted for 0.62% of expenses.
In the interests of transparency, epicenter.works started publishing a monthly cash flow (German) on its website and social networks in 2019.
Aside from the issue of digitisation during the pandemic, there were many more internet-policy issues we worked on in 2021 and they again increased our media presence significantly. We gave 101 interviews and made 138 public appearances in panel discussions (21), at talks (11), workshops (13) and community events (92). Last but not least, the protest in front of the A1 Telekom building in Vienna made quite a splash in the media.
We wrote 33 blogposts to explain technically complex subjects, submitted 12 analyses of legal proposals, made six submissions to authorities, and voiced our objections to legislators in Europe and Austria in 20 open letters/policy papers.
With the advancement of digitisation the interest in our newsletter published every two weeks has also been growing. If you have not subscribed already, you can do so here free of charge. We are glad about every new subscriber, because it shows us that more and more people take an interest in digital fundamental rights.
The numbers show that we try very hard to direct the funds available to us towards achieving our goals and to use them as efficiently and as possible, which is why we abstain from advertising and prefer to use the money to further our goals instead.
Want to support us? Here you can learn everything about our supporting membership.
The full transparency report is available for download in German and English.