The DRI Year In Review

2014 marked DRI’s 9th year, a year filled with significant digital rights issues, fundamental privacy issues, and complex legal challenges. It was also a year of enormous success for DRI. Here’s what DRI was able to accomplish in 2014:

1/ Overturned mass surveillance for half a billion people

Since 2006, DRI has fought laws which require ISPs and mobile phone companies to log details about your location, your text messages, your emails, and your internet use, stored for up to two years. In April of this year, we successfully overturned mass surveillance through tracking of phone and internet use for every citizen in Ireland and across the EU.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: This win in the European Court of Justice is a landmark decision on how privacy and data protection issues will be dealt with across the European Union. The DRI case set a standard for your personal privacy and data protection in Europe that is unparalleled in the rest of the world.

2/ Defended every cloud user outside the US

Ireland is a global warehouse for storage of cloud data. In December, the US government tried to force Microsoft to turn over user emails held in its Dublin facilities based on a US search warrant. DRI defended Ireland’s national sovereignty in the case Microsoft v USA as an advising party, and our Brief provoked the Irish Government to enter its own defence of the Irish State a few weeks later.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: The cloud holds backups of your photos, your emails, and even your phone via services like Hotmail, Gmail, iCloud, and Amazon. DRI defended your data and your privacy around the world by insisting that, if the US government wants to access that material, it must do so according to laws where the data is stored.

3/ Stepped up to protect your data from the NSA

The NSA is accessing the data of European residents held by US tech companies. DRI says this is a breach of European citizen’s rights because the transfer of data from firms in the EU to the US is subject to the transatlantic Safe Harbour agreement. In July, the Irish High Court added DRI to the contentious Schrems vs Facebook case, so we could put our arguments to the ECJ, the highest court in Europe.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: If you use online services like Hotmail, Facebook or Skype, the NSA is accessing your personal data. DRI is the first Irish non-statutory body allowed to join a case like Schrems, which means we can now use DRI’s technical and legal expertise to protect your privacy rights.

4/ Stood up for your social media rights

Cyberbullying was big news in 2014, with Irish TDs calling for regulation of social media to combat it. In March, we made submissions to the government’s ominously named Internet Content Governance Advisory Group, counselling that the best approach was not to limit free speech online.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: The Group’s final recommendations largely reflected the points we made, and a knee-jerk reaction to tragic events and negative effects on free speech were avoided.

5/ Was recognised as an EFF Counter Surveillance Success Story

In September, we were honoured to be recognised by the prestigious and highly regarded Electronic Frontier Foundation as a “Counter Surveillance Success Story.” DRI was recognised specifically for our work fighting the EU Data Retention Directive: How Digital Rights Ireland Litigated Against the EU Data Retention Directive and Won.

Help Us Continue in 2015

This year, we need to generate €30,000 from online fundraising in order to continue our work fighting to protect your digital privacy, data, and open access to the web. Please help us meet our funding need for 2015 with your donation:

Image Credit: Dee Speed