This Was 2020: Transparency Report Published

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As we do every summer, we are publishing our annual transparency report. The pandemic year of 2020 was one of the most turbulent, busiest, but also one of the most exciting years in the association’s history.

We had anticipated 2020 to become a very special year to us. epicenter.works was approaching its 10th anniversary. On February 6 2010, our association – back then by the name of "Arbeitskreis Vorratsdaten Österreich" (Austrian workshop on data retention, AKVorrat) – was founded with the purpose of abolishing the data retention law. We already planned to throw a big charity party for the association in autumn 2020. But as they often do, things turned out other than planned. On founding day, the board and many members could still raise the glasses in the association’s offices. But as the Covid-19 situation turned more and more serious towards the end of February, even before the first official lock-down, our team decided to switch to remote work and to put all festivities on hold. All the more were we excited about a video message that reached us in autumn 2020: Federal President Dr. Alexander van der Bellen and his wife Doris Schmidauer congratulated us on the association’s birthday.

Successes

At the very beginning of the year, only three days after the new turquoise-green federal government was sworn in, we already developed and published our netpolitical analysis of the new government programme.

As a “public watch dog”, we looked at all urgently enacted laws and executive orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic and tried to mitigate the crisis impact by providing netpolitical suggestions. We analyzed the Red Cross's "Stopp Corona"-app and criticized the legal provisions of the electronic vaccination certificate and the ministry of education’s digital implementation recommendations for Home Schooling. Together with the NEOS, we uncovered Austria’s biggest data scandal since 1945 and even landed a ZIB2 interview appearance on the topic. In a press conference, we presented our long-term project „Handbuch Überwachung“ (“manual of surveillance”) in which we cleared up the surveillance situation in Austria and produced a topical standard work. Until today, we are busy with the „Stop the AMS-algorithm“ campaign which we started in 2020 and which will keep us busy the upcoming months! We invested a lot of effort into the federal government’s „hatred on the Internet“ act and the national implementation of the EU copyright directive, as well as all debates around the BVT reform that popped up after the Vienna terror attack on November 2.

On the European level, we actively participated from an early stage in the legislative process for the Digital Services Act/Digital Market Act and continue to work intensely on the EU reform on net neutrality.

A detailed annual review is available in German.

Financials

Through our strong media and awareness work around the “Stopp Corona” app, the data scandal about the “Ergänzungsregister für sonstige Betroffene” and the “hatred on the Internet” legislative package, the financial support by civil society grew. The many donations by supporting members and individual donors were the largest source of income for the association in 2020 (57.77%). The second-largest source of income were contributions from trusts and project-based aids (33.59%). Despite the pandemic, we managed to cover 6.73% of the 2020 total income with workshops, discussion contributions and also with sales of the “Handbuch Überwachung”. Our sponsorship contracts amounted to 1.91% of the total revenue. Due to our economical handling of the resources given to us, we again managed to run a balance surplus of 17.04% of all income, which will go into the association’s reserves.

Our use of funds was more than 80% efficient, because we spent about 50% on statutory purposes and about 30% on administration. Public relations like OTS mailings and press conferences required about 2% of our income.

Since the end of 2019 and in the spirit of transparency, epicenter.works also publishes a monthly cashflow report on the website and on social media.

Media Relations

Our 2020 presence in the media was up massively due to the many netpoliticall topics. We attained a total reach of 47.8 million people, with the biggest factors being visibility on the Web and on TV. We had the opportunity to explain our points on various topics in 24 ORF programs (13 of which being ZIB formats). The definite highlight was an interview appearance of our executive director Thomas Lohninger on ZIB2 with Lou Lorenz-Dittlbacher. In total, we were mentioned 516 times in national and international media, which boosted the association’s recognition massively.

Public Appearances and Publications

Despite or even due to Corona and the surge of netpolitical topics, we could increase our public appearances also in 2020. We were asked a total of 161 times to contribute to podium discussions (41), workshops (33), presentations/keynotes (29) and at community events (54). With our 4 press conferences, we proactively established focus on topics such as our analysis of the “Stopp Corona” app, the total surveillance account, or the criticism on the AMS algorithm. Whenever we don’t speak somewhere, we write. Our core is our website, on which we published 43 blog posts on various network-political topics in 2020. On the legal front, we engaged by contributing 14 parliamentary and 12 administrative statements. Critically, though always accompanied by solution proposals, we intervened in the public debates and published 12 policy papers and open letters.

Our communication on social media is being noticed more and more and our following grows daily. The many reactions from civil society that reach us on a daily basis by email delight us enormously, as they demonstrate people’s vast interest in digital fundamental rights and active participation in shaping the future.

As Busy as a Bee

As shown by the figures, we make an effort to apply the means at our disposal as efficiently and purposefully as possible, which is why we abstain from advertising and prefer to invest in substantive work instead.

Do you also want to support our work? Get to know everything about our supporting memberships.

The full transparency report is available for download in English and German.

Since you're here

… we have a small favour to ask. When governments constantly demand new surveillance measures, collect more and more data about us, or when corporations increase their profits at our expense, we start campaigns, write analyses or demand our rights in the courts. For all of this we need your support. Help us form a strong voice for civil society!

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