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

505 Organizations, 3961 Individuals

Organizations

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Individuals

  • Max Hunter

    Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

  • Valerie Frissen

    SIDN fund/Leiden university

  • Josh Levy

    Center for Digital Resilience

  • Bill Marczak

    Citizen Lab

  • Nicole Leaver

    Tufts University

  • Katherine Maher

    Wikimedia Foundation, CEO

  • Emma Humphries

    Mozilla

  • Belen Febres

    Simon Fraser University

  • Chris Lawrence

    Grant for the Web

  • Mila Salahuddin

    My future

  • Cole Gleason

    Carnegie Mellon University

  • Rachael Jolley

    Index on Censorship

  • Harley Balzer

    Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University

  • Linghao Zhang

    ETH Zurich

  • Laura Moy

    Georgetown University Law Center

  • Mehrad Sheida

  • Lucy Bernholz

  • Miller Michelle

    Coworker

  • Niels ten Oever

    DATACTIVE Research Group at University of Amsterdam

  • Allison McDonald

    University of Michigan

  • Alexander Howard

    Digital Democracy Project, Demand Progress Education Fund

  • Britt Paris

    Rutgers University

  • Todd Davies

    Stanford University

  • Mutale Nkonde

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Ivan Sigal

    Global Voices

  • Qiang Xiao

    School of Information, UC Berkeley

  • Allen Gunn

    Aspiration Tech

  • Chad Sansing

    Mozilla Foundation

  • Qiang Xiao

    China Digital Times

  • John Hering

    Lookout & The Hering Foundation

  • Nehalenniæ OUDIN

    Sorbonne Université, LIP6

  • Myra Abdallah

    Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality

  • Yen-Tung Lin

    UC Berkeley

  • Emma Prest

    OCCRP

  • Kendra Albert

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Diep Dao

    SaveNET - Internet Freedom for Vietnam

  • Sarah Morris

    Open Technology Institute

  • Barbie Zelizer

    Center for Media at Risk at the University of Pennsylvania

  • Andrea Lampros

    UC Berkeley Human Rights Center

  • Dr Clara Brekke

    Durham University

  • Lulu Keng

    Open Culture Foundation

  • Javier Garza

    Freelance journalist

  • Iryna Chulivska

    Digital Security Lab Ukraine

  • Keri Lloyd

    Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs

  • Lokman Tsui

    The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  • Sofia Arroyo

    EDGE Funders Alliance

  • Francesca Musiani

    National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

  • Irene Poetranto

    The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto

  • Ivan Sigal

    Global Voices

  • Libby Liu

    Open Technology Fund (Disputed)

  • Pia Mancini

    Open Collective

  • Ron Deibert

    Citizen Lab

  • Bryan Nunez

  • Abdallah Alsalmi

    BBC

  • Eileen Donahoe

    Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator

  • Clinton Gibson

    University of California Davis

  • Ken Montenegro

    National Lawyers Guild

  • Ben Cheng

    Internet Society Hong Kong

  • Arzu Geybulla

    Azerbaijan Internet Watch

  • Marina Fedorova

    UCI

  • Samaneh Tajalizadeh

    ICANN

  • Al Smith

    The Tor Project

  • Maame Akua Marfo

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

  • Rebecca MacKinnon

  • Nicholas Doiron

    Tufts University

  • Mallory Knodel

    Center for Democracy & Technology

  • Bernard Tyers

    OTF Advisory Council

  • Mike Linksvayer

    GitHub

  • Mykola Kostynyan

    FreeNet Ukraine Coalition

  • Michael J. Oghia

    Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

  • Claire Vergerio

    Princeton University

  • Xavier Canal Masjuan

    Red Hat

  • Dongfang Han

    China Labour Bulletin

  • Ming-Syuan Ho

    Taiwan Association for Human Rights

  • Kevin Wed

    DigitalOcean

  • Emma Hornick

    University of Iowa

  • Bo-Xiang You

    National Taiwan University

  • Mohammad Ghaffarian

    United for Iran

  • John Sarapata

    Google

  • Masashi Nishihata

  • Antonela Debiasi

    The Tor Project

  • Craig Aaron

    Free Press Action

  • Judith Olson

    University of California Irvine

  • Mohamad Najem

    SMEX

  • Jonathan Nelson

    HACKFund.com

  • Baobao Zhang

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Marianne Díaz Hernandez

    Derechos Digitales

  • Michael Meehan

    Former BBG Governor

  • Joshua Shepperd

    University of Colorado at Boulder

  • Lauren Bridges

    Annenberg School for Communication

  • Alexandre Franke

    GNOME

  • Wojtek Bogusz

    Front Line Defenders

  • Luis Villa

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

  • Psi Vesely

    UC Berkeley, cLabs

  • Shariya Algama

    Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

  • Lex Gill

    Citizen Lab

  • Li-Lun Wang

    Google

  • Meghan McDermott

    CUNY Law

  • Michael Dessen

    Professor, University of California, Irvine

  • Mishi Choudhary

    Software Freedom Law Center

  • Kat Duffy

  • Amar Ashar

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Dan Gillmor

    Arizona State University

  • Alexa Koenig

    UC Berkeley Human Rights Center

  • Marcus Michaelsen

    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

  • Nathalie Marechal

    Ranking Digital Rights

  • Raquel Renno

    ARTICLE 19

  • Caroline Sinders

    Harvard Kennedy School

  • Jillian York

    Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

  • Salil Vadhan

    Harvard University

  • Riana Pfefferkorn

    Stanford Center for Internet and Society

  • Daniel Kahn Gillmor

  • Alexey Rusakov

    Red Hat

  • Wendy Seltzer

  • Daniel Mahoney

    Internet Systems Consortium

  • Zachary Weinberg

    UMass-Amherst

  • Luke Stark

    Microsoft Research

  • Nedal Alsalman

    Bahrain rights

  • Arthit Suriyawongkul

    Thai Netizen Network

  • Me Me Thein

    Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)

  • Paola Ricaurte

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Jessica Fjeld

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Emmanuele Somma

    Partito Pirata in Italia (President of the Permanent Congress)

  • Alexei Abrahams

    Citizen Lab

  • Paul Dourish

    University of California, Irvine

  • Christopher Coleman

    University of Denver

  • Juan Rivera Palomino

    Universidad de San Marcos-Lima-Peru

  • David Weinberger

  • Julia Kloiber

    Superrr

  • Tessa Menatian

    Media Democracy Fund

  • SC Leung

    ISOC Hong Kong

  • Peter Micek

    Access Now

  • Wendy Hanamura

    Internet Archive

  • Rebecca MacKinnon

  • Catherine Liu

    UC Irvine

  • Harlo Holmes

    Freedom of the Press Foundation

  • Miguel De icaza

    Microsoft

  • Lotus R

    Citizen Lab

  • Mario Hoffmann

    HTW Berlin

  • Jennifer Brody

    Access Now

  • Ben Scott

    Reset

  • Danny O'Brien

  • Felicia Anthonio

    Access Now

  • Vivian Zuniga

    Internet Freedom Festival Advisory Board

  • Jana Wichmann

    Board member Open Knowledge Foundation Germany

  • Stephanie Taylor

    Progressive Change Institute

  • Pierce Stanley

    Council on Foreign Relations

  • Julia Reda

    Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

  • Jonathan Penn

    University of Cambridge

  • Susan Landau

    Tufts University

  • Lobsang Gyatso Sither

    Tibet Action Institute

  • Javier Cavanilles

    IFF

  • Maksym Lunochkin

    Digital Security Lab Ukraine

  • and 1158 Anonymous signatories.

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