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[liberationtech] Update from the Open Technology Fund

Dan Meredith meredithd at
Sun Apr 20 08:40:07 PDT 2014

Heya all,

We have a lot of exciting goodness to share. In summary:

1. May 1st is the next upcoming concept note deadline
2. Congress and the BBG increased OTF’s annual budget, now $12,750,000
3. OTF released our 2013 Annual Report, we want your feedback
4. We’re seeking awesome program managers and technologists

-=Submit us your ideas=-
Most immediately, OTF has a May 1st concept note deadline quickly
approaching.[0] This is an always open competitive solicitation for
disruptive technology projects that advance global Internet freedom and
human rights online. If you are interested in submitting a concept note
for consideration of our support, the process begins by completing a
short online form.[1]

We’re seeking to support projects broadly focused on the following:
1. *Access* to the Internet, including tools to circumvent website
blocks, connection blackouts, and widespread censorship;
2. *Awareness of privacy and security threats and protective measures,
including how-to guides and trainings for circumvention tools;
3. *Privacy* enhancement, including the ability to be free from
repressive observation and the option to be anonymous when accessing the
Internet; and
4. *Security* from danger or threat when accessing the Internet,
including encryption tools.
OTF supports projects with primary activities to:

Ideal project objectives include:
1. Advance *research into repressive Internet interference* on modern
communication networks and the methodologies and technologies to best
circumvent it;
3. Foster *development of technologies* that circumvent repressive
censorship and surveillance or increase communication access and safety; and
3. Enable widespread *implementation of solutions* in an effort to free
people from repressive Internet interference.

-=OTF’s budget increased… significantly=-
In January, we noted that Congress included a large budget increase for
Internet freedom.[2] In 2013, the overall Broadcasting Board of
Governors (BBG) Internet freedom program received $9.1 million. In 2014,
Congress increased that amount to $25.5 million. Since that time the BBG
deliberated on the appropriate strategy to dispense with those funds.

On April 11th, 2014, the BBG held an open meeting to vote on how the
Internet freedom funds will be allocated.[3] The Board voted to split
the funds between OTF and the BBG”s Internet Anti-Censorship program
(IAC). This results in OTF receiving $12.75 million, a nearly 3x
increase of 2013 funding levels.[4]

-=Release of our 2013 Annual Report=-
OTF’s 2013 annual report provides an overview of its program, goals, and
existing and future commitments to the larger Internet freedom
community. It highlights important facets of OTF’s work and the
accomplishments and ongoing efforts of projects OTF supports around the
world. This report allows the public a deep look inside OTF’s internal
processes. It concludes with a vision of OTF’s future work in 2014 and

You should read it because we want your feedback. Your discussions
directly affect OTF’s ongoing iterations to the program.

-=OTF is hiring=-
We’ve more money to support more good ideas. To do so, we need more good
folks to join our team. We’re seeking to fill 6 to 8 positions. Our
first priority is a Technologist with a mind that can not only keep pace
with rapid technological change, but stay one step ahead.[6] This OTF
Technologist will be a key decision maker of which project’s OTF
determines to support while also developing and leading the
implementation of OTF wide technical strategies.

Review and apply for all our open positions on our website.[7]

-=OTF background=-
OTF is a program that utilizes public funds to support Internet freedom
projects. We support projects that develop open and accessible
technologies promoting human rights and open societies. We strive to
advance inclusive and safe access to global communication networks.

OTF was created in early 2012 from U.S. Government (USG) funds and
sustained by annual grants from the Broadcasting Board of Governors
(BBG) as a program of Radio Free Asia (RFA) to promote global Internet
freedom and combat online censorship.[8][9] The BBG’s mission is to
inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom
and democracy. RFA’s mission is to provide accurate and timely
information to the people of Asia who lack adequate protections for
freedom of expression, free speech, and a free press.

While RFA’s mission is Asia focused, OTF was given an expanded global
vision to fulfill the U.S. Congressional global mandate for Internet
freedom funds. The BBG selected RFA as the entity within which to create
OTF because of its responsive and agile profile and nonprofit nature,
among other factors. Today, OTF’s sole source of support remain an
annual BBG grant, whose funds originate from an annual U.S.
Congressional appropriation for State, Foreign Operations, and Related

If you have any questions, please send them our way.

Dan Meredith
Director, Open Technology Fund
pgp 0x36377134


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