United States Agency for Global Media

Internet Freedom

Around the world, repressive state actors are doubling down on their commitment to curtailing what their citizens see, read, share, and watch online. This daily suppression of freedom of expression limits all citizens' ability to take full advantage of the powerful communication platform that the internet has become. This stifles their fundamental human rights and prevents the development of open societies.

USAGM counteracts this rise in repressive government control through its Open Technology Fund (OTF).

The Open Technology Fund advances internet freedom in the world's most closed, repressive environments. It supports the research, development and implementation of novel technologies that facilitate the free flow of information, increase at-risk users' digital security and enable free expression. Together these shape the internet as a platform that respects fundamental human rights and reinforces core democratic values.

USAGM's Open Technology Fund supports cutting-edge research, the development of advanced anti-censorship technology and the implementation of these tools to help human rights defenders, journalists, political dissidents, and regular users alike circumvent censorship and stay safe online.

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Access to the internet, including tools to circumvent website blocks, connection blackouts, and widespread censorship.

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Privacy enhancement, including the ability to be free from repressive observation and the option to be anonymous when accessing the internet.

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Security from danger or threat when accessing the internet, including encryption tools. Internet freedom is no longer just about passive censorship, but now encompasses attacks that cross international borders and endanger the physical safety of some of the most at-risk groups.

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Awareness of access, privacy, or security threats and protective measures, including how-to guides, instructional apps, data collection platforms, and other efforts that increase the efficacy of internet freedom tools.

How we do it

OTF provides funding through a variety of mechanisms to ensure that we can support innovative and critical tools at every stage of the development, whether that be a ‘pre-alpha’ spark of an idea, on-the-ground rapid deployments, or mature, multi-year efforts. This varied approach ensures that tools are made available to users who need them to safely access the uncensored Internet, while also investing in innovative, next-generation solutions.

OTF welcomes all types of project ideas. Here you can see requests for specific kinds of challenges OTS seeks to address. Explore, and if one feels right or interesting, apply.

OTF Resource Labs are recognition that the community of internet freedom and digital human-rights defenders require continuous sustenance rather than limited projects and constant re-application processes.

Fellows provide support to organizations and communities most affected by internet freedom violations (like journalists, human rights defenders, NGOs, activists, bloggers, and others); educate the broader internet freedom field about the threats and vulnerabilities experienced; and cultivate research, outputs, and creative collaboration on topics related to repressive internet censorship and surveillance.