This February we have celebrated our 10 year anniversary as an association. At the time, we enjoyed our little office party and we had no idea about what we would soon be faced with: the Corona crisis, for which we outlined implications and recommendations for digital rights right away. Not only did the Corona crisis increase our workload immensely, but it also complicated our work due to political circumstances. Regulations are being passed back to back and we can barely keep up with our reviews. We are used to coping with situations like this, as we have seen several Federal Ministers of the Interior come and go over the past ten years. Our success in our commitment against surveillance instruments - such as data retention or the state trojan, a form of government spyware - has shown that we have become an integral part of the political discourse.
Our efforts regarding net neutrality at European level can be felt by everyone, everyday: Equal treatment of data is not only an issue of net neutrality, but also one of consumer protection. Our utmost concern remains, however, the protection of fundamental rights – in the physical and the digital world alike. Our greatest motivation comes from a passion for privacy and data protection, and over the years our association has recorded an increasing number of supporting members. Unfortunately, the figures fall short of what we hoped for and what reflects the effort we put into our ever-growing workload.
For an enlightened society
Around 50% of our revenue comes from the civil population: One-time donations and especially our supporting members, who are interested in our work, help us with their contributions. Other revenue stems from project-related funding, such as our "Surveillance Manual", which will be published soon in its second version and provides the best evaluation of surveillance instruments in Austria so far. Another funded project is our pending administrative complaint against the passenger name records directive. Within narrow limits, we also accept sponsorships from businesses, but nowadays very few companies actually care about data protection and fundamental rights. The smallest part of our revenue comes from fees for lectures and workshops. To us, educational work is a priority because only an informed civil society can claim its rights.
From these sources of income alone, we simply cannot survive. For the most part of our work, we analyze laws, draw up position papers, follow parliamentary evaluations, conduct studies and raise awareness for problems in an interlinked information society. For instance, we did not earn a single cent with our analysis of the “Stopp Corona” app. We don’t get paid for politely reminding political players that some of their plans for internet policy are hostile regarding fundamental rights. We do not receive money for doing any of these tasks, and that’s fine as it is because we want to remain independent. Anyone who followed us over the past years, knows that we seek dialogue and exchange with all political parties and institutions. It is always our cause and our purpose that drive us, and never political preference or orientation of any kind.
For the survival of epicenter.works
Unfortunately, our current financial situation is not looking too good. Therefore we have sent out this call in an attempt to raise enough money to make ends meet. To ensure the existence of epicenter.works in its current form until the end of this year we need precisely € 82.446. We prefer supporting memberships, as they provide the stability necessary for budgeting the next year. If we don’t succeed together, our association will run out of money in autumn. Our survival is crucial for democracy in this country. Austria needs a watchdog to closely monitor politics and to exclaim when fundamental rights are being affected. Our work and thus our existence is essential to prevent excessive surveillance. We want a transparent state, not see-through citizens. If this is what you want too, please support us NOW!
You can read more about how we spend our earnings in our transparency reports: we mainly use them to pay our staff, but honestly we could need many more employees. Lots of volunteer workers support us, but a fixed core of employees is needed to keep our initiative running. We too have to pay rent and internet, just like everyone else. We handle the money donors entrust us with responsibly, and this we disclose with confidence. Donations to our association unfortunately are not tax-deductible, because in Austria democracy and fundamental rights are non-privileged purposes.
We are independent from and not bound to any political party or business. Our only commitment are fundamental rights. What we do depend on is support from people. Join us now as supporting member and safeguard our independence. Help us be a powerful voice for civil society!