The Open Technology Fund is proud to announce that we have become an independent non-profit corporation and the first-ever USAGM grantee dedicated to protecting human rights by combating online censorship and advancing Internet freedom worldwide. This evolution is the culmination of seven years of hard work and is a credit to the zeal, impact, and tireless dedication of the global Internet freedom community.
OTF was initially created in 2012 as a pilot program at Radio Free Asia, an affiliate of USAGM. Over the last seven years, the OTF program has supported pioneering research, development, and implementation of cutting-edge Internet freedom technologies to respond to evolving censorship threats around the world. Today, over two billion people globally use OTF-supported technology daily, and more than two-thirds of all mobile users have OTF-incubated technology on their device.
This next phase in OTF’s development comes at a critical time. Around the world, authoritarian regimes are increasing their efforts to censor, restrict and surveil the Internet. Leading censors like China and Russia are not only becoming far more sophisticated in the means through which they control the online lives of their own citizens, they are increasingly exporting their censorship and surveillance tactics to like-minded regimes abroad. Once the sole purview of a few highly motivated and well-resourced authoritarian states, repressive censorship and surveillance have become a global phenomenon.
As an independent organization, OTF is prepared to address these escalating threats by expanding its Internet freedom efforts and maximizing the impact of its future investments. This new structure will allow OTF to capitalize on its unique capability within the US government to support Internet freedom efforts with the flexibility and speed needed to empower innovation and compete against highly-resourced adversaries to a free and open Internet. Additional resources will also allow OTF to increase long-term support for proven Internet freedom tools while expanding funding for innovative, next generation solutions to stay ahead of evolving censorship threats.
We at OTF are incredibly excited about this next stage in our growth and development and the opportunities that it brings for the Internet freedom community. More importantly, we remain dedicated to working in partnership with the Internet freedom community to support the millions of individuals worldwide who experience repressive Internet censorship and surveillance every day and to create a global online community that is more secure, connected, and informed than ever before.