OTF funds internet freedom technologies at every stage of the development cycle from proof-of-concept, to on-the-ground deployments, to multi-year efforts. This approach ensures that USAGM journalists and audiences have the tools they need right now to safely access the uncensored internet, while investing in innovative solutions to stay ahead of evolving censorship threats. In order to provide comprehensive support to internet freedom projects, OTF provides resources through a variety of implementation mechanisms.
● Direct Funds: OTF provides direct funding to support the research, development, implementation, and sustainability of technologies the enable censorship circumvention and enhance users security and privacy online.
● Labs: OTF provides expert services through its Labs, including the translation of internet freedom tools into over 200 languages, security audits, usability assessments, legal support, and secure cloud storage. These services ensure that the technologies incubated and supported by OTF are as effective, secure, and usable for USAGM audiences as possible.
● Fellowships: OTF supports individuals to carry out cutting-edge applied research projects examining how authoritarian states are restricting the free flow of information and ways for citizens to overcome those tactics. OTF fellowships help to cultivate the next generation of internet freedom experts by creating a viable career track for those who have the skills and passion for Internet freedom.
● Network support: OTF will also provide direct internet freedom assistance to USAGM’s news networks to improve their digital security, make USAGM websites and applications more secure and resistant to censorship, provide customized and secure tip lines for sources, and deploy leading Internet freedom technologies to ensure that our audiences can access USAGM content despite increasing censorship.
● Rapid Response: OTF provides emergency support to independent media outlets and journalists who face digital attacks to help them get back online and mitigate future attacks.
● Billions of users worldwide: Today, over 2 billion people use OTF-supported technology daily. More than two-thirds of all mobile users globally have technology incubated by OTF on their device.
● Support to USAGM networks: OTF works closely with USAGM networks to protect their content online and ensure it is resistant to censorship. For example, when USAGM news site were abruptly blocked in Pakistan, OTF created mirror sites to ensure USAGM content remained available for key audiences. OTF also created the first internet freedom guide for international broadcasters – BypassCensorship.org.
● Best-in-class tools: OTF-supports anti-censorship, privacy, and security tools that are regularly used and recommended by leading media and human rights organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, UNESCO, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House, among many others.
● More timely, accurate censorship detection: Through OTF funding, anyone can rapidly identify where, when and how censorship is occurring across the globe; hundreds of thousands of measurements are now taken every month in more than 210 countries
technologies ensuring the timely, regular documentation of censorship events in repressive contexts worldwide.
● Rapid response: OTF has provided rapid response assistance to individuals and organizations facing digital emergencies in over 40 countries, including in Venezuela, Iran, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Uganda and Tibet, among others.
● Exposing repressive Chinese surveillance: OTF’s Red Team Lab has investigated and exposed apps used for repressive surveillance throughout China, including tools used by the government to target religious minority Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province as well as tourists entering the region. Research supported by OTF also tracked the export of Chinese censorship and surveillance technologies and tactics to 102 countries around the world.
● Increasing demand: The demand for internet freedom projects has grown exponentially over the past decade as censorship and surveillance threats have increased. As a result, OTF’s application process has become increasingly more competitive. Since 2012, OTF has reviewed and responded to over 3,500 requests for support totaling nearly $450 million.
USAGM has launched a new independent grantee to fund the development and distribution of cutting edge technologies and techniques to counter efforts by repressive regimes and closed societies, such as Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea, to block access to objective news and information.