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NGO to fight for GDPR rights set to launch

A new breed of NGO aimed at helping EU citizens fight for privacy rights under the GDPR is set to launch after achieving the minimum funding required

NOYB, the European Center for Digital Rights championed by privacy activist Max Schrems, is set to establish operations to help European citizens fight for their privacy rights.

The initiative reached the minimum level of annual funding commitments of €250,000 ahead of deadline and in time to celebrate international Data Protection Day 2018.

This means NOYB (none of your business) can start operations to enforce privacy rights starting from 25 May 2018, the compliance deadline for the new European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

NOYB is a new type of non-governmental organisation (NGO) conceived by Schrems, the Austrian lawyer whose legal challenge of Facebook led to the scrapping of the Safe Harbour Agreement.

He believes that although the GDPR gives citizens of European Union member states unprecedented control over their privacy and new options to claim their privacy rights, few individuals have the knowledge or financial resources required to do so, either in court or through data protection authorities (DPAs).

Schrems, who plans to support NOYB as chairman of the board on a pro-bono basis, also believes GDPR on its own will fail to deliver better data privacy rights enforcement – despite the new powers it gives to the DPAs of EU member states – because they will still lack resources, expertise and initiative to uncover and prosecute legal violations.

“I have to send a big thank you to all supporters. More than 2,000 supporting members in just two months show that enforcing our privacy laws in reality is an important concern for many people across Europe,” he said.

The crowdfunding drive is set to continue until 31 January, with just 56% of main target of €500,000 achieved as of writing.

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According to Schrems, €500,000 of annual funding is required to provide a full service. “We can start working with the minimum funding we have now reached. For permanent and stable operation, we are urgently looking for further supporters so that we can hire the necessary core team,” he said.

The NOYB non-profit will be established in Vienna and comprise technicians and lawyers who will find privacy violations and ensure compliance with the fundamental right to privacy in the private sector through strategic enforcement.

According to Schrems, NYOB is key to fulfilling the GDPR’s promise of enhanced privacy rights, especially as the regulation allows collective enforcement by NGOs on behalf of individuals under article 80.

The NYOB crowdfunding drive has secured financial support from more than 2,000 private supporting members, who on average have pledged almost €80 as a membership fee. Institutional supporters such as the city of Vienna, StartPage.com, Fabasoft, Mozilla, PlusServer or GPA-djp are currently contributing another €90,000 euros in support, with more institutional supporters expected to join soon.

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