Statements

The response in support of OTF has been swift and substantial. Read below selected statements from Congress, Organizations, USAGM Board Members, and Community Members.

Congressional Response

"It is essential that USAGM leadership unlock funds meant for the Open Technology Fund so that oppressed people in China, Iran & other authoritarian states have internet access & can communicate safely w/ one another. OTF programs are a key link to the free world." - Representative Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (R-TX)

“As the lead Republican sponsors of the Open Technology Fund Authorization Act, we are troubled by the recent termination of Laura Cunningham and the OTF Board of Directors and are concerned about the future of the organization. Since OTF was established as a separate entity last year, it has funded the development of open-source, security-tested tools to help those living under authoritarian regimes or those living in vulnerable situations, such as in Hong Kong, to access the internet and to communicate freely with one another without the fear of reprisal. We have been impressed with the efforts of President Laura Cunningham and her team, and we look forward to hearing from CEO Pack on how he plans to continue the vital mission of OTF during this time of transition.” - Representative Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (R-TX), and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

"Reports regarding changes to OTF's programming requirements are alarming. The OTF has long followed a policy of only funding projects that are released as open source, have been approved by OTF's independent technical advisory board, and have been subjected to an independent cybersecurity audit. This is vital, both to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted and to prevent design flaws in technology that might put users in authoritarian countries at risk from deadly retaliation. We are concerned by statements from OTF's former CEO that USAGM is now seeking to steer its funds to programs that do not meet these necessary qualifications." - Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), along with Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Ro Khanna (D-CA)

"The termination of qualified, expert staff and network heads for no specific reason as well as the removal of their boards raises questions about the preservation of these entities and their ability to implement their statutory missions now and in the future. These actions, which came without any consultation with Congress, let alone notification, raise serious questions about the future of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) under your leadership. . . . Given the bipartisan and bicameral concern with recent events, we intend to do a thorough review of USAGM’s funding to ensure that United States international broadcasting is not politicized and the agency is able to fully and effectively carry out its core mission." - Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Susan M. Collins (R-ME)

"We are deeply concerned about the firings of qualified leadership; the reports that USAGM has frozen funds and grants; and the public reports that USAGM under Mr. Pack’s leadership is considering altering preexisting budget commitments to internet freedom initiatives in order to fund products that have been subject to well-documented concerns that they do not meet technological specifications, security standards, and industry best-practices. . . . If the firewall that protects USAGM’s editorial independence is eroded, it will make USAGM ineffective. Rather than providing a counter-point to autocratic regimes, it would call into question the U.S.’s commitment to democratic values, and risk reinforcing misperceptions that USAGM media outlets are simply state propaganda, no different from Russia Today or others around the world." - Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Ami Bera (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), David Trone (D-MD), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) and Dean Phillips (D-MN)

“While every new leader has a right to bring in his or her own team, these mass terminations beyond just the USAGM executive leadership seem potentially damaging to both the operations & morale of the agency. Unfortunately, I and others were not consulted before these major decisions were made. Further troubling is that in his letter to USAGM employees, he stressed the importance of consulting with Congress. I hope CEO Pack will find time very soon to explain to me and my colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee his reasons for making these decisions." - Representative Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (R-TX)

"On its face, the firing of the leadership of each network and dissolution of the boards appear to constitute an attempt to ‘interfere with’ and ‘impermissibly influence’ all ‘of the USAGM networks, including their leadership, officers, [and] employees … in the performance of their journalistic and broadcasting duties and activities.’ Furthermore, the absence of standards editors in each of these news organizations raises questions about accountability mechanisms for journalistic integrity." - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Letter to Acting Inspector General, U.S. Department of State, requesting an investigation of USAGM CEO)

"That Mr. Pack took this drastic measure in his first week on the job is shocking, and we have deep concerns that he takes the helm of a critical agency with the intent to prioritize the Trump administration’s political whims over protecting and promoting independent reporting, which is a pillar of freedom and democracy." - Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY)

"I am deeply concerned about the recent actions by CEO Michael Pack to terminate qualified network heads, including Jamie Fly at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. At a time when malign actors, like Russia and China, are spreading disinformation and propaganda as well as undermining democratic norms globally, it is critical that the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is independent and nonpartisan. As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, I will be monitoring USAGM's work closely to ensure it is living up to its core mission in the weeks and months ahead." - Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

"The law requires that American international broadcasting be independent from influence by any administration official—including the CEO. Mr. Pack’s day-one purge of senior officials and appointment of right-wing ideologues and Trump loyalists sends an alarming message. Mr. Pack should explain to the Committee and the American people his vision for the agency, the reason for terminating so many senior staff all at once, and his other initial actions as CEO." - Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY)

"Once the credibility is gone, nobody will ever trust a report from Radio Free Europe, Radio Marti, nor trust the tools of the Open Technology Fund." - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"Wholesale dismissal of the directors of @RFERL, @RadioFreeAsia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, & @OpenTechFund is an assault on the independence of @USAGM’s networks." - Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL)

“The U.S. cannot sit idly by while regimes across the nation deny the basic right of free speech. I’m proud to cosponsor the Open Technology Fund Authorization Act to fight against this injustice across the world.” - Senator Rick Scott (R-FL)

“Keeping the internet free from government censorship and oppressive government surveillance is critical to free expression and political freedom around the world. This bill [the OTF Authorization Act] will aid the fight against authoritarian governments online.” - Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

"Authoritarian regimes’ use and export of repressive surveillance and censorship tools including China, Russia, and Iran represent an effort to fundamentally change how the Internet operates. Leaders of these countries, by silencing free speech and curbing political freedoms in the digital domain, are attempting to establish and expand a model for digital governance that can only be described as digital authoritarianism. The Open Technology Fund is one important element of the United States’ effort to fight the expansion of digital authoritarianism and ensure people around the world have tools to promote human rights, the free flow of information, and hold their governments accountable and to ensure the internet remains a free, stable, and secure arena for the free flow of ideas around the world." - Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

"Our international broadcasting efforts provide unbiased news and information in countries where there is no free press. The growth of the internet has given us powerful new tools to reach bigger audiences. Our broadcasters tell the truth, which is why so many governments try to silence them along with other independent sources of news. The Open Technology Fund is working on ways around government censorship and restriction of the internet. If a repressive regime builds a wall, the OTF is working to build an even taller ladder." - Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY)

"The Open Technology Fund is a critical tool in protecting human rights activists, religious minorities, and journalists from government surveillance. As dictators roll out new COVID-19 tracing tools with backdoors to monitor their citizens, OTF will be there to give those who defend democracy the tools to communicate and organize free of snooping eyes." - Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ)

“Silicon Slopes, located in my entrepreneurial Utah, has one of the best tech sectors and workforces in the nation. The Open Technology Fund Authorization Act would capitalize on our strengths by promoting tech jobs and supporting the development of new technologies that could protect against bad actors that try to shut down the internet, censor information, or locate those advocating for democratic rights.” - Representative John Curtis (R-UT)

Organization Statements

Commercial Companies

"OTF’s independence from any government is critical to its mission. Digital tools to make the internet more secure and safer for speech will be less effective if they are perceived to be influenced by government interests. At a time when surveillance and censorship are increasing worldwide, this consequence would be particularly troubling." - Mozilla

"OTF’s work demands that its staff and board have an understanding of both policy and technology to further its efforts. The recent firings call that ability into question. While we are pleased that a court recently issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting USAGM from taking any action to remove or replace any OTF officers or directors while litigation related to the firings is pending, we believe it is imperative for Congress to conduct rigorous oversight into recent decision-making to preserve the OTF and its mission. To that end, the Coalition encourages the Commission to incorporate OTF oversight into its examination of the juxtaposition of human rights and the media." - The App Coalition (representing Priceline, Kayak, OpenTable, and many other consumer-based apps)

"@OpenTechFund has been there to support open source security and fight for internet freedom. Many of us rely on tools OTF has supported, and now OTF needs our help. GitHub signed https://saveinternetfreedom.tech telling Congress to support OTF. You can too. #SaveInternetFreedom." - GitHub

"OTF has a track record of spring-boarding many small developing projects into fully-fledged privacy tools and services that journalists, activists, and wary individuals living in countries without internet freedoms can use to protect themselves from surveillance and snooping. Its financial dismantlement would put the internet freedoms these tools provide in mortal peril." - ExpressVPN

"As a technology company, we rely daily upon the open-source tools supported by the Open Technology Fund. Rerouting OTF's funding towards proprietary projects will not just hurt Internet freedom - it will also hurt the tech industry, which relies heavily upon open-source. This is bad for democracy AND it's bad for business. Nobody wins." - Dr. Melanie Rieback, CEO of Radically Open Security

"[OTF] is in peril as Trump administration officials have assumed control of the USAGM and are pursuing goals antithetical to the organization's missions. . . . But OTF is a noble endeavor and its integrity should be preserved, for the sake of a free press, the course of liberty and the defense of oppressed people throughout the world." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Editorial Board

"We oppose the takeover of @OpenTechFund . Closed-source projects are #scams and must not receive "Internet Freedom" funding." - Namecoin

"OTF's focus on open-source tools and the open-source developer community has been particularly valuable for the security and availability of these tools, for those who most need them. A change in strategy for OTF away from open source would put significant parts of the secure, open internet, and the human rights and lives that depend on it, at greater risk." - Chris Riley, Director of Government Relations, Mozilla

"OTF’s work demands that its staff and board have an understanding of both policy and technology to further its efforts. With the recent firings, that ability has been called into question. To ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted, that the lives of those that rely on OTF’s technology are not put at risk, and that the app economy, an increasingly core component of free speech globally, continues to flourish, we respectfully request the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to exercise its oversight function by calling Mr. Pack to testify on the rationale behind these actions and the plan forward for OTF." - The App Coalition (representing Priceline, Kayak, OpenTable, and many other consumer-based apps)

Human Rights Organizations

"By sponsoring Let’s Encrypt’s implementation of multi-perspective validation, OTF helped protect the 227 million sites using Let’s Encrypt from BGP attacks, a favorite technique of nation-states that hijack websites for censorship and propaganda purposes. . . . EFF is proud to join the voices of hundreds of organizations and individuals across the globe calling on UGASM and OTF’s board to recommit to the value of open source technology, robust security audits, and support for global Internet freedom. These core values—which have been a mainstay of OTF's philanthropy—are vital to uplifting the voices of billions of technology users facing repression all over the world." - Jillian C. York (Director for International Freedom of Expression) and Max Hunter (Engineering Director, Encrypting the Internet), Electronic Frontier Foundation

"[A] shake-up at the USAGM's Open Technology Fund (OTF) threatens to disconnect millions of people from the secure online messaging and circumvention tools they use to access and share uncensored information. Local journalists often rely on OTF’s resources to get critical news to foreign and domestic audiences while protecting their own safety." - Michael J. Abramowitz, President, Freedom House

"The @OpenTechFund has long supported internet freedom defenders in their fight against censorship and surveillance. We're calling on Congress to protect both OTF & internet freedom" - Freedom House

“The technologies that the Open Technology Fund supports underly nearly all of the tools we have to protect people accessing the internet in closed societies. . . . OTF has been a credible, transparent, and trustworthy partner to global internet freedom advocates, and their work is critical to the pursuit of fundamental human rights in the digital age. The takeover of the leadership of this independent nonprofit organization is shocking and threatens to undo OTF’s many achievements.” - Seamus Tuohy, Information Security Director, Human Rights Watch

"The human rights defenders in our community are among the most targeted and rely on secure digital tools and access to uncensored, independent information. The media outlets and internet freedom projects the USAGM funds are crucial to many of our partners, and the recent developments are therefore very worrying." - Civil Rights Defenders

"The internet freedom technologies that the Open Technology Fund has developed enable citizens to circumvent government censorship and surveillance. These efforts provide the means to both pierce closed information systems and protect activists in increasingly authoritarian environments like Hong Kong." - Laura Rosenberger (Director) and Zack Cooper (Co-Director and Senior Fellow), Alliance for Securing Democracy

"Congress must act to stop this partisan takeover of OTF and its essential work to promote free expression in repressive regimes around the world. Last week, CDT joined hundreds of other human rights and civil liberties organizations around the world in calling on Congress to protect anti-censorship and free expression-enabling technology. . . . Going forward, we must continue to ensure that OTF’s funds are used to support technologies that are fully open-source and subject to regular security audits, to ensure the most effective and secure use of U.S. funds." - Mallory Knodel, Center for Democracy & Technology

"Defunding and dismantling this program will have an impact on freedom of expression around the world, further undermining pro-democracy efforts. We urge the US Government to commit to protecting the OTF and resist attempts to undermine it." - Quinn McKew, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19

“Young feminists all over the Global South rely on the tech that OTF funds and their independence and existence is vital for the success of our movements!” - FRIDA

"Dear U.S. Congress, #DemocracyDefenders across the world rely on #InternetFreedom tools for their work & lives. Please #SaveInternetFreedom: save @OpenTechFund. co-signed, @DefendDemocracy." - Defend Democracy

“I would say the technical realities of the internet are certainly taking a back seat to political battles. They certainly claim that they are tougher on China than the people they are replacing. And they claim that they will be more effective at bringing down the CCP than their predecessors. I don’t think so.” - Rebecca MacKinnon (Director, Ranking Digital Rights at New America) on Pack’s attempt to replace OTF’s Board of Directors and key officers

"As a grassroots funder ourselves, we are deeply concerned about the impact this move by the U.S. government will have on the global digital rights movement. Funding sources that do not impose a political agenda are essential to the work of civil society around the world fighting to strengthen democracy and uphold human rights for all. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a heavy burden on organizations and individuals that are already strained and under-resourced, and the loss of the resources OTF has so effectively stewarded would reverberate across our entire community." - Billie Goodman, Grants Manager, Access Now

"The @OpenTechFund has always been a long-standing bipartisan organization that defends #internetfreedom worldwide. Immediate action is needed from Congress to ensure that #internetfreedom is ALWAYS protected." - The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)

"Open Technology Fund have supported open and safe communication channels relied upon by millions in the worlds most repressive regimes for years. Every human rights community around the world that Center for Digital Resilience works with uses tools supported by them. Simply put - they are a vital player not just for global internet freedom, but also in the pursuit of global human rights. We love them. We need them!" - Holly Kilroy, Center for Digital Resilience

"In a world where online freedoms are increasingly under threat from all sides, organisations who work on supporting a free and safe internet are more important than ever. This is why Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) is extremely worried by developments by the US government that might undermine the work Open Tech Fund (OTF) does." - Digital Rights Foundation

"DRF is alarmed by these moves and asks US Congress to ensure that OTF is able to continue the work that they do world over for open, safe and equal access to Internet and the work that they do for open source technologies." - Nighat Dad, Digital Rights Foundation

Software Tools

"The Open Technology Fund has almost a decade of history supporting organizations and individuals all around the world in their mission of ensuring billions of people have secure access to the internet. This is the internet freedom community. Everyone who reads this blog post knows how crucial the internet is for them, especially as we live this moment of physical isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, more than ever, we need to ensure that initiatives like OTF are out there to support our internet freedom community and its mission. Help us save OTF. You can join us and sign the letter, either as an individual or an organization, at https://saveinternetfreedom.tech." - Tor Project

"The @OpenTechFund has supported Mailvelope at a time when the project was still in its infancy. Security audits were funded that helped us to validate our code and reach a next level. Their valuable support for open-source software is now at risk." - Mailvelope

"It is essential that OTF leadership continues to consist of individuals who are part of and trusted by the internet freedom community.Over the last years, the OTF has received funding proposals from marginalized communities in repressive environments because there has been trust towards the organization’s leadership. If OTF were to lose that trust, it would likely also lose applications from individuals who are best-positioned to combat internet censorship and defend internet freedom." - Open Observatory for Network Interference

"The @OpenTechFund is a longstanding bipartisan org defending internet freedom. Human rights defenders all over the world rely on internet freedom tools for their work and lives. We join the organizations across the globe calling to #SaveInternetFreedom." - Benetech

“The @OpenTechFund has supported countless open source projects to help people resist censorship and surveillance.” - Freedom of the Press Foundation

"The @OpenTechFund has funded many essential tools for internet privacy, accessibility, surveillance avoidance and journalist protection. Although funded by the US Government, the organization pursued its mandate with integrity, ethics and competence." - Internet Systems Consortium (ISC)

"Recent shifts at @USAGMgov & @OpenTechFund are very concerning. OTF has always been a supporter of open source tools (including Tor) fighting for internet freedom, and their funding transparency has built trust with users. It's time to #SaveInternetFreedom" - The Tor Project

"We trust the OTF because they are one of us. We trust the OTF because they are internet freedom defenders. We trust the OTF because, like us, they have worked on internet freedom projects – as researchers, technologists, journalists, human rights defenders, policy analysts, and community leaders – and they actually understand the field. We trust the OTF because of its people. We trust the OTF because its team consists of people like Fiona, a prominent community organizer who managed mentorship at the world’s largest hacker conference, people like Adam, who has tirelessly fought for the right to an open internet, people like Lindsay, who has worked with activists on documenting internet censorship and surveillance around the world, and people like Libby, a visionary who understood early on (when others did not) that free and open-source software is necessary for defending internet freedom." - Open Observatory for Network Interference

Broader Internet Freedom Community

"We are deeply concerned about the chilling effect of this bruised trust and the harm OTF’s lost independence brings to the most vulnerable among us, especially those who are risking their lives fighting on the frontlines of our movements." - Letter to Congress from activists, human rights defenders, and leaders of public interest groups and nonprofits working at the intersection of human rights and technology, including Thida Aye (Digital Rights Researcher, Myanmar), Mahsa Alimardani (Internet and rights researcher, ARTICLE19 & Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Nima Fatemi (Founding Director of Kandoo), Arzu Geybulla (Founder of Azerbaijan Internet Watch), Poncelet Ileleji (CEO of Jokkolabs Banjul, The Gambia), Giorgio Maone (Internet security researcher, creator & developer of NoScript), Raphael Mimoun (Founder of Horizontal), Trinh Nguyen (Co-Founder of Vietnam Rise), Mart van Santen (Co-Founder of Greenhost), Mohammed Xeenarh (Executive Director of TIERs, Nigeria), and Jillian C. York (Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

"The encroachments to OTF highlight why independent and transparent funding sources for research and development on Internet freedom are so important. Providing this type of support within a large government organisation can be difficult. OTF was an example of how to do that right. Losing that example will be a loss not only to the practitioners and researchers that have grown through the support of OTF but the wider community of marginalized people they support." - Ron Deibert (Director) and Masashi Crete-Nishihata (Associate Director), The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto

"As the daughter of a Cuban refugee, OTF has been instrumental to providing Cubans with the tools they need to tell their story in a safe and secure way. And they have done this for so many journalists and activists in Latin America. They have also been instrumental in helping seed my project, the Internet Freedom Festival, which brings together over 1,200 technologists, journalists and human rights defenders from 100+ countries to collaborate and support each other to fight authoritarian governments in their own country. I have never seen an organization do soooo much with so little. They have both inspired me, but have been incredibly impactful for the communities I'm part of." - Sandra Ordoñez, Internet Freedom Festival

"As part of the Trump administration's restructuring of US government agencies, the leadership of the Open Technology Fund has been replaced. This threatens to cut off funding for important open source projects. Together with many other international organizations, the Chaos Computer Club is protesting this coordinated attack: Save Internet Freedom: Support the Open Technology Fund. We also call on other individuals and organizations to do the same – there is only a short window of opportunity to avert this immense damage to the open source community." - Chaos Computer Club

"The @OpenTechFund has always been a long-standing bipartisan org defending internet freedom. Congress must act immediately to ensure that it's protected." - Aspiration

"Through the development of open-source technologies and wider networks, the [Open Technology Fund] is one of the most prominent protectors of democracy and freedom of speech online." - Simply Secure

"The Open Tech Fund helped us take the idea of Umbrella and turn it into reality. Without it's unique ability to understand complex internet freedom problems and nurture new teams like ours to develop innovative solutions - we never would have been able to build a tool used by thousands of people at risk." - Rory, Security First

"Internet freedom means many things, and all of us are here because of it. Specifically, in our line of work, it enables citizens oppressed by their states to ensure their personal safety and fight for freedom of religion, expression and movement, to name a few. OTF’s leadership is crucial in making all this possible. Without OTF and its funding, dissenting voices in authoritarian states would not have been heard and their liberties, sometimes their livelihoods, demolished. OTF, therefore, is vital to sustaining this work, and we urgently implore that OTF is able to maintain its influence and expand freedom to places where it is most needed." - No FireWall Helpdesk, Vietnam

"The Open Technology Fund (@OpenTechFund) has been responsible for funding important open source privacy tools for activists, such as @signalapp and Tor. Without their financial support, we jeopardize future attempts at creating a more democratic online landscape." - OnlineSOS

"Since its inception in 2012, the Open Technology Fund, or OTF, has funded open-source privacy-preserving projects like Signal, Tor, and SecureDrop. Journalists have used these technologies to share and report facts in authoritarian regimes. And LGBT and domestic violence victims have been able to find love and share their stories using OTF-sponsored applications without fear of government persecution. . . . We hope the court, Congress, and all relevant parties in our government realize how great the OTF has been, and how vital it is to protect its independence so it can be a beacon for Internet freedom around the world." - Neon Law

Former USAGM Board Members Quotes

"[The Open Technology Fund] helped cultivate multiple widely deployed circumvention technologies which provide users and publishers the ability to overcome the sophisticated censorship employed by China and Iran - and exported to 100+ countries around the world." - Leon Aron, Ambassador (ret.) Ryan Crocker, Michael Kempner, Ambassador (ret.) Karen Kornbluh

"In this information contest, some of democracies' best defenses are a good offense — such as spurring the creation of tools like Signal to empower activists and expand free expression. That's why it's concerning that last month a new Trump appointee temporarily froze funding and abruptly tried to fire the Open Technology Fund's leadership and the heads of four news media organizations, including Radio Free Asia, under his purview — a move that threatens to limit the independence of the fund and the outlets. . . . Ultimately, supporting free expression — and harnessing the full potential of U.S. innovation to do so — is our best way to counter authoritarian information manipulation and control. In a global contest over information, politics should not compromise America's approach to technology development or its vital support for vulnerable communities that rely on such technology to help them stay safe." - Ambassador (ret.) Karen Kornbluh and Lindsay Gorman

“What [the USAGM CEO] has done is a great gift to China, Russia and repressive regimes across the world. There are not many gifts bigger than destroying one of the few mechanisms for people to send and receive information within closed press, closed information societies.” - Michael Kempner

Community Member Quotes

"at a time when countering global censorship is so vital, i hope that key members of congress (like @Malinowski @tedlieu @SpeakerPelosi @ChrisMurphyCT @SenWarren) work to counter the trump admin's threats to dismantle @OpenTechFund. #SaveOTF." - David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

“OTF's ironclad rule of funding open, free code isn't just a way to allay suspicions about the tools' true purpose – it's also a preventative against corruption, because the projects OTF funds can't insert spy code without being caught right away.” - Cory Doctorow, Writer, Activist

"Trump administration scores an own goal by freezing @OpenTechFund, which has been instrumental in protecting internet freedom in #China." - Maya Wang, Senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch

"This broader view and set of essential research, development, teaching and training, is precisely what the Open Technology Fund has been supporting for the last eight years. It is exactly what not only the people of China need, including Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, environmental activists, lawyers, and yes, even journalists, but what we all need globally to defend from attacks on many fronts. . . . We need the diverse, deeply researched, audited, and open-source brain trust that OTF has been nurturing and building for this last decade to win." - Nathan Freitas, Guardian Project

"The Trump Administration's purge of the @OpenTechFund is an affront to the entire Internet rights community worldwide." - Professor Ron Deibert, Director, the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto

"When OTF was launched, it filled a huge need for global internet freedom. In the years since, it has grown to be not only a funder, but an incredible global community of practitioners of which I am proud to be part." - Jillian C. York, Electronic Frontier Foundation (and OTF Advisory Council)

"I trust Signal because it’s well built, but more importantly, because of how it’s built: open source, peer reviewed, and funded entirely by grants and donations. A refreshing model for how critical services should be built." - Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, on Signal (which was developed via OTF support)

“The vulnerable communities OTF serves rely on its tools because of the trust they have for open source technology and the credibility of the organizations that provide these tools. If we claim to support the principle of Internet freedom, we must oppose actions that would damage the global network of trusted institutions that make OTF's crucial work possible.” - Ben Scott, OTF Board Member

"We, the undersigned technology experts and academics, urge Colorado's congressional delegation to support the Open Technology Fund, an independent non-profit grantee of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM). As an entrepreneurial hub, Coloradans must oppose the actions that have placed OTF's funding and independence in jeopardy." - David Sullivan, Program Director, Global Network Initiative (along with 21 other expert signatories)

“The efforts of OTF have been instrumental in providing security for human rights defenders all across the globe, adding abilities for them to hold duty-bearers accountable and pushing non-democratic governments to respect human rights. Civil Rights Defenders works with over 200 partners in more than 40 countries, many in extremely repressive environments - a majority of our partners are relying on OTF funded tools and technologies to be able to maintain and expand their work. The trust in OTF is based on its independence and close collaboration with frontline activists, why the integrity of the OTF mechanisms urgently needs to be protected. - Marcin de Kaminski, Director of the Department for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, Civil Rights Defenders (and member of the OTF Advisory Council)

"It is clear by the senior appointments already being made that journalistic and media competence is not required. Mr. Pack named James M. Miles to head the Open Technology Fund, which is focused on promoting international internet freedom. This requires understanding of the closed media available in places like North Korea, as well as some understanding of online technologies in the effort to reach such places. . . . [Miles] appears to be the kind of person who does not have a deep substantive knowledge of international internet freedom technology and content that might get in the way of following orders." - Ambassador Robert R. King

"To me, what the Digital Integrity Fellowship (DIF) at OTF has meant was to give people, who have found themselves playing the role of supporting the digital security of their movements and communities, the time and resources to do their work more consistently. I was part of the first cohort of DIF fellows. This cohort was diverse-- with fellows from the Global South, with Black and Brown women. It was the first of its kind to value the work of such individuals. I really believe that the DIF fellowship has contributed to diversifying the digital security field and community. And that is such an invaluable contribution." - CC, OTF Advisory Board Member and former mentor-fellow

"OTF's open-source model is crucial for reaching besieged civil society audiences in the global south. Without transparency and independence, OTF fellows could easily be perceived as pawns of American foreign policy, which would be de-legitimizing (and dangerous)." - Alexei, Postdoctoral research fellow, Citizen Lab, University of Toronto

"Vital US funding for #opensource tools like Signal & Tor is under threat! Journalists & activists worldwide rely on these tools to defend your human rights and stand up to oppressive governments." - Julia Reda, former Member of the European Parliament

"I'm lucky to be among those funded by @OpenTechFund. Their commitment to combatting censorship, creating an open Internet, & fostering a community of researchers & activists is absolutely amazing. Our work would be impossible without them & the open source projects they support." - Dave Levin, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland (OTF project involves AI censorship evasion)

"I believe OTF has contributed to the Southeast Asia community and Internet freedom movements in the region. OTF has been supporting us to build better digital security capacity for the human rights defenders organization in the region through several fellowship programmes. Without the support from OTF, many of us weren't able to working on digital security and protection for the community at-risk." - Kaia, former OTF Digital Integrity Fellow

"OTF has assembled an incredible portfolio of projects and fellows, the diversity of which is likely unrivaled in this space. They support the unsexy protocol work in open source projects which billions rely on for their security and privacy. They support long-shot R&D in new approaches to circumvention, as well as efforts in securing and improving the field-tested tools already used by hundreds of millions. They support high-quality research efforts. They take bets on tools and resources which benefit the entire internet freedom community and worldwide civil society as a whole. And they produce an ecosystem to network disparate projects and actors. The quality of this portfolio couldn't be achieved without the independent oversight and input of respected experts worldwide who contribute their time to review the dynamic pipeline of applications which OTF receives. And I can attest that the process of winning OTF project support is tough and highly competitive. The process of feedback and critique which my project application received was a testament to this competitiveness but also to the depth of understanding of the field and commitment to quality which my reviewers exhibited." - Neil Blazevic, OTF Digital Integrity Fellow

"It's not only technological excellence but trust that Open Tech Fund has built up in the last 8 years, worldwide. Putting it under direct political command plays into Russian, Iranian and other regimes' efforts to badmouth and criminalize life-saving technologies for human rights activists." - Deltachat Developer

"As the leader of a novel project to restore connectivity when the Internet is totally unavailable, I am convinced that our project would've ended as an academic paper were it not for OTF. Getting OTF to fund the project when it was just an idea was not quick or easy: The OTF team worked diligently to assess the feasibility, security and impact of the project, thus making sure that they fulfill their mandate in the most effective and efficient manner possible. The OTF Authorization Act in its current form is crucial to neutralize established and emerging threats to Internet Freedom worldwide -- By contrast, diverting their funds to a handful of opaque technologies that partially address existing threats will be catastrophic." - Gus Narea, Relaynet developer

"OTF is the only place I found so far that supports and create a safe space for someone, who is not a techie, to work on internet freedom." - Activist from Myanmar

"The OTF has played a key role in supporting my work in understanding how communities organize to circumvent Internet censorship in Africa. Particularly in understanding how communities weathered the 93-day Internet disruption in Cameroon, the OTF's support for my research was crucial in shedding light on how communities resisted authoritarian government censorship, and thus serve as a model for communities confronting similar authoritarian censorship elsewhere."- Tunde, OTF Fellow