CDT has previously criticized earlier this year a leadership shake-up at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) that froze $20 million in funding for the Open Technology Fund (OTF), leaving their grantees with significant capacity issues to support internet freedom. The USAGM & OTF have critical missions which include supporting activists’, journalists’, technologists’, and organizations’ work to protect privacy, free speech, and free access to the internet around the world. Last week, CDT joined TunnelBear in igniting an initiative with more than 50 organisations to deliver another letter, this time urging democratic governments such as the members of the Freedom Online Coalition, companies, and foundation funders, to fill OTF’s $20 million funding gap and stabilise internet freedom.
The statement’s authors and signatories include representatives from the private sector as well as civil society. Chief Technologist for the Center for Democracy & Technology Mallory Knodel said:
“It is now fully recognised in mainstream debates that the open, accessible and effective technology-based solutions to digital autocracy around the world wouldn’t exist without the Open Technology Fund. These tools must remain effective and activists, journalists and civic space must be protected from the techniques being evolved by illiberal adversaries. Democratic governments can join this effort by stepping up their funding to OTF and the internet freedom community.”
CDT hopes to see the incoming Biden Administration restore the U.S.’s leadership in supporting internet freedom by unfreezing USAGM funding for OTF as a priority in the Administration’s first 100 days. But even with that leadership, we join the call for a global coalition to renew the fight for internet freedom globally and ensure an enduring international commitment to free, open, and democratic use of the internet.
The full text of the letter is available here: https://saveinternetfreedom.tech/updates/joint-letter-otf-shake-up-highlights-need-for-diverse-funding-for-internet-freedom-projects/.