Open Society Foundation Funding

Big Brother Watch Team / December 15, 2021

In addition to the public donations that enable us to keep going, we have successfully applied for grants from several philanthropic organisations to enable certain specified projects we set out to do, and grow our important work protecting privacy and civil liberties in the UK. All such work is made publicly available on our website.

We applied to Open Society Foundation’s “Information and Digital Rights Programme” for funding to support our project investigating hidden algorithms in Britain’s welfare system. Our investigations have revealed that uses of big data and algorithmic decisions are growing in UK government, harming our privacy rights and risking discrimination with the worst effects felt by Britain’s poor.

Our subsequent investigation concluded that many of the algorithmic decision-making tools used by the government were unjustified, raised serious questions of data protection legal compliance and that several should be immediately stopped. Our work is published at where you can also download our report, Poverty Panopticon: the hidden algorithms shaping Britain’s welfare state. We now aim to further our campaign and to undertake legal action to stop this secret citizen scoring gathering pace.

Our funding protocols are strictly upheld and vitally important to protect our values and independence: funders do not, and cannot, set our policies or otherwise direct our work; if a funder attempted to do so, we would not accept their support. Independence is, and always will be, of central importance to us, and is upheld in all of our practices.