Information Controls Fellowship

The Information Controls Fellowship Program (ICFP) cultivates research, outputs, and creative collaboration on topics related to repressive internet censorship and surveillance.
Next deadline: 
Closed

Setting the stage

The Information Controls Fellowship Program (ICFP) supports examination into how governments in countries, regions, or areas of OTF’s core focus are restricting the free flow of information, cutting access to the open internet, and implementing censorship mechanisms, thereby threatening the ability of global citizens to exercise basic human rights and democracy; work focused on mitigation of such threats is also supported.

Fellowship tiers

Senior Fellows

  • Six month or one year fellowship
  • Usually offered to postdoctoral, doctoral students, and experienced researchers with demonstrated ability and expertise
  • Monthly stipend of $4,200 USD
  • Travel stipend of $2,500 or $5,000 USD depending on the length

Seasonal Fellows

  • Three to six-month fellowship
  • Usually offered to students and/or junior practitioners
  • Monthly stipend of $2,500 USD
  • No travel stipend
Likely candidates

Typically, ICFP fellows have experience in fields such as computer science, engineering, information security research, software development, social sciences, law, and data visualization, among others. Information controls is a cross-disciplinary field, so applications are open to people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines and can include students and junior to mid-career practitioners. To get a better sense of the ICFP community, you can read about fellows from round one, round two and round three.

Who are the fellows?

Meet the current class of ICFP fellows!

Current fellows
Where do fellows work?

ICFP fellows embed with a host organization for the duration of their fellowship.

When applying, applicants can specify any host organization of their choosing. This includes both the past host organizations listed below and those not listed. Regardless, justification will need to be provided in the application. While fellows are ideally able to work locally within their host organization, applicants who wish to work remotely will also be considered.

Detailed descriptions of host organizations we’ve worked with previously can be found here.

Past ICFP host organizations have included the following:

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
 Propose a new organization!
Propose a new organization!
International Computer Science Institute, UC Berkeley
International Computer Science Institute, UC Berkeley
Citizen Lab
Citizen Lab
EFF
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Ranking Digital Rights
Ranking Digital Rights

Criteria and the application process

For a full rundown of the application process, head here.

When are requests for applications made?

The next application window will open in early 2018. The window is open once annually.

If you’d like to be notified when this and other OTF funding windows open in the future, sign up to join the OTF-announce mailing list.

Potential areas of focus
  • Development and refinement of tools and techniques to continuously monitor internet interference on a global scale
  • Investigation of information controls, security, and privacy in popular applications such as search engines, social media platforms, and instant messaging clients
  • Testing creative methods of censorship circumvention
  • Examination of the impact of internet censorship and use of circumvention tools
  • Experimental techniques to limit pro-government manipulation of online discussions
  • Analysis of targeted threats against civil society organizations, including internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and targeted malware
  • Other novel ideas and approaches relating to the study of global and regional information controls
Things to avoid
  • A focus on countries with minimal information controls
  • Working with a host organization you are already affiliated with
  • Testing of end user connections that violate established ethical principles
  • Network or cryptographic protocols better suited for the Core Infrastructure Fund
  • Projects better suited for the Digital Integrity Fellowship Program
Important considerations
  • Projects should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the mission of promoting freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable with activities and milestones listed monthly. The overall project goals should extend beyond traditional audiences.
  • For the duration of both senior and seasonal fellowships, the fellow will be expected to work full time with their host organization.
  • Before completing a submission, we strongly encourage you to review our Terms of Service.
  • If you have any questions at all, please contact us at [email protected]

Review panel

All ICFP fellowship applications are reviewed by the OTF team; selected applications are also then reviewed by an independent Advisory Council review panel comprised of experts with deep knowledge and insight into topics related to information controls.

Members of the ICFP Advisory Council review panel are:

Award information

OTF awards are performance-based contracts between RFA and the applicant with payment occurring through a monthly stipend subject to approval each month by the OTF Program Manager and supporting host organization. OTF reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described under such circumstances as it may deem to be in the best interest of the program priorities.

Application requirements, submission, and deadlines

Project and Budget Periods

OTF fellowship contracts are 3, 6 or 12 months in duration. From time to time OTF may consider applications to extend existing contracts beyond the initial project period. Any such decision will be subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the applicants, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of program priorities.

Monitoring & Evaluation

OTF views monitoring and evaluation as a way to learn from our fellows and share lessons learned with future applicants. This improves the collective knowledge of the community and thus contributes to its sustainability.

Because payment is dispersed at monthly intervals upon completion of stated contractual goals, successful applicants can expect regular contact with both their host organization and OTF project manager. Monitoring consists of compulsory monthly reports and also phone, email, or in-person discussions and consultations as needed. Fellows are required to submit brief monthly updates about their work to OTF, their host organization, and the OTF community. This allows others to review and comment on the ICFP community’s work, encouraging collaboration.

The adviser or responsible person at the host organization, in turn, provides a “traffic light” report to OTF evaluating their fellow’s progress. This report, detailed below, is the basis upon which stipend payments are released to fellows on a monthly basis.

A “green light” from the host organization signals that the fellow is on track and funds can be released. A “yellow light” from the host organization signals that while funds should be released, there are some concerns that need to be flagged to OTF. A “red light” from the host organization signals that progress has been interrupted and an intervention is required. The host organization recommends “stop payment” and OTF, the host organization, and the fellows discuss possible remedial steps to either get back on track or terminate the fellowship.

Eligibility
  • Individuals of all ages irrespective of nationality, residency, creed, gender, or other factors, with the exception that OTF is not able to support applicants within countries that the United States has trade restrictions or export sanctions as determined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
  • Individuals who demonstrate skill and ability to assist in efforts to overcome information controls.
  • Individuals who demonstrate a desire to grow their knowledge and skills through a collaborative, cross-discipline approach.
  • Individuals who demonstrate a commitment to reach audiences outside the research community.

Other requests

Next deadline: 
Closed
The Digital Integrity Fellowship Program (DIFP) provides fixed monthly stipends to individuals capable of addressing short-term and long-term threats to freedom of expression online. Fellows provide organizations and communities most affected by Internet freedom violations comprehensive internal support with their digital security expertise. For short-term needs, the program serves as a mechanism of support to individuals working to mitigate urgent digital threats to vulnerable groups like journalists, human rights defenders, NGOs, activists, bloggers, and others. For long-term needs, the program strives to build digital security expertise inside organization's, within the local communities they are apart of, and the global networks that connect them.
Next deadline: 
Closed
The Supporting Usability and Design in Security (SUDS) Fellowship aims to make secure open-source internet freedom technologies more user-friendly.