Today, we at OTF are pleased to share our 2016 annual report, summarizing the 9 months of OTF’s operations between Spring 2016 and Winter 2017. The report highlights key results from the year; data and trends gleaned from OTF’s application system, including the submission of nearly 700 requests for support totaling over $85 million; and an overview of OTF programs, including a breakdown of the projects, fellowships, and lab services supported by OTF during FY2016.
Notable highlights from FY2016 include:
- Increased User Adoption: 2016 began with over a billion people already utilizing OTF-supported technologies, but ended with nearly two billion doing so.
- Rise in Requests for Support: The OTF team reviewed and responded to nearly 700 funding requests totaling over $85 million. This represents a 67% increase in support requests from 2015.
- Emergency Assistance: OTF supported Rapid Response engagements across the globe, assisting at-risk individuals (journalists, human rights activists, and NGO workers) in response to digital attacks and other forms of targeted online censorship in Tibet, Azerbaijan, China, Thailand, Bahrain, Sudan, Ethiopia and Pakistan.
- Red Teaming: OTF supported security audits of 12 internet freedom projects, identifying 171 privacy and security vulnerabilities. Since its inception, OTF has now supported 77 audits identifying and patching a total of 1,870 security vulnerabilities.
- Lean Operations: 85% of OTF’s program budget was used to directly support and manage over 100 projects, initiatives, and lab support.
- Low Cost Niche: 80% of concept notes received requested less than $300,000, the target ceiling of OTF support - complementing the strategies of OTF’s partner U.S. government funders.
- Increasingly Competitive: In 2016, OTF funded less than 5% of concept note submissions received, compared to approximately 10% in 2014 and 2015. This trend has continued into 2017 as OTF has already received a record-breaking number of concept notes in three consecutive rounds (March, May and July).
Throughout the year, the OTF team also proactively listened to users and global communities most affected by repressive internet censorship, leveraging their collective knowledge and capacity in order to evolve the OTF program and better combat the increasingly sophisticated forms of censorship and surveillance at play today. It is these individuals and groups - often operating on the front lines in the global battle against online censorship - that drive OTF’s work. As threats to global internet freedom continue to rise, support for this community’s work is more critical now than ever before.