Save Internet Freedom: Support the Open Technology Fund

Global internet freedom is more important than ever before, but the current administration in the United States is threatening to dismantle the Open Technology Fund - the most effective tool Congress has in the fight to safeguard the internet as a secure democratic space. Such action risks ceding the internet to increasingly repressive authoritarian regimes and must be stopped.

Sign this letter today and tell Congress: Don't turn your back on the Open Technology Fund! Take action now to ensure people around the world are still able to speak, think, and worship freely online.

Letter to Congress

Dear Members of Congress,

The internet is a vital information lifeline for over 3 billion people worldwide, but for many, this lifeline is being severed. From Xinjiang to Hong Kong and from Caracas to Tehran, repressive regimes are deploying a new generation of advanced censorship and surveillance technology, designed to stifle dissent, track religious and ethnic minorities, and manipulate content online.

As the fight for free expression escalates, the US is in danger of losing the most effective program that Congress has at its disposal for defending internet freedom, the Open Technology Fund (OTF).

We write as a coalition of more than individuals and organizations to urge Congress to voice its support for the Open Technology Fund. It is imperative that Congress ensure that the new leadership of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) does not dismantle OTF, and, against the intent of Congress, rescind US government support for its essential work.

OTF is an independent non-profit grantee of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Over the past eight years, OTF, and the projects it supports, have enabled more than 2 billion people in over 60 countries to safely access the internet free from censorship and repressive surveillance. Through OTF-funded projects millions of people in Mainland China leap over the Great Firewall, Cubans access independent news reporting and communicate securely without an internet connection on the island, thousands of activists avoid repressive surveillance in Iran and circumvent internet shutdowns in Turkey, and journalists stay safe online in Russia.

Despite OTF’s important work, there are serious concerns that the new leadership within the USAGM will seek to dismantle OTF and re-allocate all of its US government funding to support a narrow set of anti-censorship tools without a transparent and open review process. Moreover, these technologies are closed-source, limiting the number of people around the world who are able to access them and making the tools less secure, thus jeopardizing the safety of users and the global public's trust in US-supported internet freedom technologies. Such an approach also fails to recognize the numerous threats to internet freedom and the much larger set of actions that are required to help those being targeted by repressive governments.

Around the world, intrepid journalists and dedicated activists are taking great personal risks to further freedom and democracy. OTF's open, fair, competitive, and evidence-based award process ensures that those brave individuals have the best tools and technologies available to protect themselves. OTF funds open-source technologies and has funded over 100, independent, third-party security audits of internet freedom technologies to ensure only those with the highest security standards are supported with US-government funds.

Authoritarian regimes have made it clear that they are willing to do whatever it takes to control the internet. It is crucial that the US safeguards the internet as a democratic space for free expression. We urge Congress to respond to these escalating attacks on freedom of speech by protecting the internet through its continued and strong bipartisan support for OTF.

Specifically, we ask Members of Congress to:

  • Require USAGM to honor existing FY2019 and FY2020 spending plans to support the Open Technology Fund;
  • Require all US-Government internet freedom funds to be awarded via an open, fair, competitive, and evidence-based decision process;
  • Require all internet freedom technologies supported with US-Government funds to remain fully open-source in perpetuity;
  • Require regular security audits for all internet freedom technologies supported with US-Government funds; and
  • Pass the Open Technology Fund Authorization Act.

Today, millions rely on technology incubated by OTF to break free of the Great Firewall. We urge Congress to sustain its support for this vital institution so that the United States can continue to enable those living in internet-repressive environments to speak, think, associate, and worship freely online.

Sincerely,

The undersigned

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Signatories

515 Organizations, 4125 Individuals

Organizations

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Individuals

  • Josh Levy

    Center for Digital Resilience

  • Psi Vesely

    UC Berkeley, cLabs

  • Mutale Nkonde

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Ivan Sigal

    Global Voices

  • Emma Humphries

    Mozilla

  • Jennifer Brody

    Access Now

  • Mykola Kostynyan

    FreeNet Ukraine Coalition

  • Lotus R

    Citizen Lab

  • Alexander Howard

    Digital Democracy Project, Demand Progress Education Fund

  • Mallory Knodel

    Center for Democracy & Technology

  • Mike Linksvayer

    GitHub

  • Max Hunter

    Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

  • Pierce Stanley

    Council on Foreign Relations

  • Niels ten Oever

    DATACTIVE Research Group at University of Amsterdam

  • Dan Gillmor

    Arizona State University

  • Julia Reda

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Lulu Keng

    Open Culture Foundation

  • Pia Mancini

    Open Collective

  • Susan Landau

    Tufts University

  • Lokman Tsui

    The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  • Catherine Liu

    UC Irvine

  • Alexey Rusakov

    Red Hat

  • Tessa Menatian

    Media Democracy Fund

  • Paul Dourish

    University of California, Irvine

  • Diep Dao

    SaveNET - Internet Freedom for Vietnam

  • SC Leung

    ISOC Hong Kong

  • Miguel De icaza

    Microsoft

  • Zachary Weinberg

    UMass-Amherst

  • Katherine Maher

    Wikimedia Foundation, CEO

  • Mohammad Ghaffarian

    United for Iran

  • Judith Olson

    University of California Irvine

  • Emma Hornick

    University of Iowa

  • Nehalenniæ OUDIN

    Sorbonne Université, LIP6

  • Christopher Coleman

    University of Denver

  • Marina Fedorova

    UCI

  • Ivan Sigal

    Global Voices

  • Bo-Xiang You

    National Taiwan University

  • Marcus Michaelsen

    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

  • Al Smith

    The Tor Project

  • Francesca Musiani

    National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

  • Kendra Albert

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Raquel Renno

    ARTICLE 19

  • Alexei Abrahams

    Citizen Lab

  • Mehrad Sheida

  • Britt Paris

    Rutgers University

  • Bryan Nunez

  • Lex Gill

    Citizen Lab

  • Jonathan Nelson

    HACKFund.com

  • Daniel Kahn Gillmor

  • Michael Meehan

    Former BBG Governor

  • Jessica Fjeld

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Kevin Wed

    DigitalOcean

  • Dongfang Han

    China Labour Bulletin

  • Li-Lun Wang

    Google

  • Allen Gunn

    Aspiration Tech

  • Rachael Jolley

    Index on Censorship

  • Wojtek Bogusz

    Front Line Defenders

  • Jana Wichmann

    Board member Open Knowledge Foundation Germany

  • Sofia Arroyo

    EDGE Funders Alliance

  • Iryna Chulivska

    Digital Security Lab Ukraine

  • Felicia Anthonio

    Access Now

  • Lucy Bernholz

  • Maame Akua Marfo

    Young Feminist Fund (FRIDA), Young Feminist Collective (Ghana)

  • Allison McDonald

    University of Michigan

  • Keri Lloyd

    Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs

  • Michael Dessen

    Professor, University of California, Irvine

  • Luis Villa

    Co-founder, Tidelift; board member emeritus, Open Source Initiative

  • Belen Febres

    Simon Fraser University

  • Libby Liu

    Open Technology Fund (Disputed)

  • Abdallah Alsalmi

    BBC

  • Harley Balzer

    Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University

  • Barbie Zelizer

    Center for Media at Risk at the University of Pennsylvania

  • Andrea Lampros

    UC Berkeley Human Rights Center

  • David Weinberger

  • Alexa Koenig

    UC Berkeley Human Rights Center

  • Emmanuele Somma

    Partito Pirata in Italia (President of the Permanent Congress)

  • Luke Stark

    Microsoft Research

  • Wendy Seltzer

  • Bernard Tyers

    OTF Advisory Council

  • Danny O'Brien

  • Rebecca MacKinnon

  • Lobsang Gyatso Sither

    Tibet Action Institute

  • Irene Poetranto

    The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto

  • Ron Deibert

    Citizen Lab

  • Mario Hoffmann

    HTW Berlin

  • Stephanie Taylor

    Progressive Change Institute

  • Peter Micek

    Access Now

  • Valerie Frissen

    SIDN fund/Leiden university

  • Javier Cavanilles

    IFF

  • Daniel Mahoney

    Internet Systems Consortium

  • John Hering

    Lookout & The Hering Foundation

  • Joshua Shepperd

    University of Colorado at Boulder

  • Maksym Lunochkin

    Digital Security Lab Ukraine

  • Juan Rivera Palomino

    Universidad de San Marcos-Lima-Peru

  • Lauren Bridges

    Annenberg School for Communication

  • Nedal Alsalman

    Bahrain rights

  • Baobao Zhang

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Wendy Hanamura

    Internet Archive

  • Nicholas Doiron

    Tufts University

  • Linghao Zhang

    ETH Zurich

  • Emma Prest

    OCCRP

  • Qiang Xiao

    China Digital Times

  • Antonela Debiasi

    The Tor Project

  • Mishi Choudhary

    Software Freedom Law Center

  • Myra Abdallah

    Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality

  • Cole Gleason

    Carnegie Mellon University

  • John Sarapata

    Google

  • Ken Montenegro

    National Lawyers Guild

  • Alexandre Franke

    GNOME

  • Julia Kloiber

    Superrr

  • Riana Pfefferkorn

    Stanford Center for Internet and Society

  • Me Me Thein

    Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)

  • Kat Duffy

  • Shariya Algama

    Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

  • Jonathan Penn

    University of Cambridge

  • Miller Michelle

    Coworker

  • Claire Vergerio

    Princeton University

  • Arthit Suriyawongkul

    Thai Netizen Network

  • Qiang Xiao

    School of Information, UC Berkeley

  • Paola Ricaurte

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Ben Cheng

    Internet Society Hong Kong

  • Xavier Canal Masjuan

    Red Hat

  • Mila Salahuddin

    My future

  • Dr Clara Brekke

    Durham University

  • Bill Marczak

    Citizen Lab

  • Nathalie Marechal

    Ranking Digital Rights

  • Ben Scott

    Reset

  • Marianne Díaz Hernandez

    Derechos Digitales

  • Mohamad Najem

    SMEX

  • Amar Ashar

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Caroline Sinders

    Harvard Kennedy School

  • Ming-Syuan Ho

    Taiwan Association for Human Rights

  • Arzu Geybulla

    Azerbaijan Internet Watch

  • Michael J. Oghia

    Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

  • Javier Garza

    Freelance journalist

  • Nicole Leaver

    Tufts University

  • Vivian Zuniga

    Internet Freedom Festival Advisory Board

  • Harlo Holmes

    Freedom of the Press Foundation

  • Eileen Donahoe

    Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator

  • Sarah Morris

    Open Technology Institute

  • Masashi Nishihata

  • Chad Sansing

    Mozilla Foundation

  • Craig Aaron

    Free Press Action

  • Clinton Gibson

    University of California Davis

  • Rebecca MacKinnon

  • Chris Lawrence

    Grant for the Web

  • Laura Moy

    Georgetown University Law Center

  • Todd Davies

    Stanford University

  • Meghan McDermott

    CUNY Law

  • Jillian York

    Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

  • Samaneh Tajalizadeh

    ICANN

  • Yen-Tung Lin

    UC Berkeley

  • Salil Vadhan

    Harvard University

  • and 1187 Anonymous signatories.

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Updates

The Fight To Save Internet Freedom Continues

Last updated: 2020-07-08T23:23:45.52Z

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