In February, the Open Technology Fund continued to both receive a large number of support requests and to support a diverse portfolio of internet freedom projects and fellows addressing internet censorship and surveillance threats in closed societies around the world where the free flow of information is curtailed. During the past month, OTF continued reviewing and responding to the 150+ concept notes received during the January 1 round while also accepting applications for the Information Controls Fellowship Program (deadline: March 25). The March 1 round review process is now underway, with 130+ concept notes received requesting nearly $30 million – the second highest number of applications ever received after the January 2018 round.
- The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) released a second report analyzing the censorship of popular apps and websites during Iran’s nationwide protests in early January 2018, providing further context into how Iran blocked access to certain online platforms. OONI found that Instagram was blocked through the use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology targeting the TLS encryption protocol. Read more here.
- Secure submission platform GlobaLeaks released the findings of their latest security audit, conducted by Subgraph and supported by OTF’s Red Team Lab. The audit covered a general security assessment and a test of the platform’s new new multi-tenancy implementation as released in GlobaLeaks 3.0. Two minor security flaws were discovered in the audit; the full audit report can be accessed here.
- Mailvelope, a browser extension that facilitates email encryption for users of browser based email, released Mailvelope version 2.2, focusing in part on usability improvements including a new landing page that is shown after installing Mailvelope, a redesigned menu, and also added the ability to encrypt and decrypt PGP messages directly in the main application.
- OTF’s Usability Lab is now offering a revamped array of usability-related services for internet freedom projects and services (whether that be in-kind for OTF-supported projects for those not supported by OTF. The new services including secure usability and user experience (UX) consultations, secure UX testing, user research and user studies, style guide creation and UX design assistance. Read more about the new Usability Lab offerings here.
- Arthur Gwagwa completed work for his Sub Saharan-Africa Cyber Regionalism and Elections project, for which information controls analyses for Lesotho, Rwanda, and Angola were written, and making contributions to an OONI report on censorship in Gambia. The reports’ findings were disseminated and presented in various forums, both academic and non-academic throughout the project’s life.
- Previously OTF-supported Signal (Open Whisper Systems) announced the launch of the Signal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will continue support for the Signal messaging app, originally developed with OTF funding. Signal announced the organization would have $50 million in initial funding, ensuring longer term sustainability for the privacy and security-enhancing app beyond the life of OTF’s support.
- OTF co-hosted the Internet Freedom Festival, the world’s premiere global internet freedom community gathering, held March 5-9 in Valencia, Spain, bringing together activists, technologists, journalists, and frontline human rights defenders from 130 countries of which 53% identified as women and/or gender nonconforming.
Select news collected by OTF from the month of February 2018 – Get the full feed live @OpenTechFund or sign up to receive our daily newsletter
Dissidents Have Been Abandoned and Besieged Online | Motherboard
Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears | Reuters
Iran’s National Information Network: Faster Speeds, But At What Cost? | Internet Monitor
Five news outlets comply with order to delete YouTube video of investigative report | Meduza
Vietnam attempts to mimic Chinese-style internet controls | Washington Post
In Turkey, draft bill would give new censorship powers to state regulator | CPJ
WhatsApp is finally catching up to African entrepreneurs with a standalone business app | Quartz
Another activist faces lèse majesté charge for sharing BBC profile of Thai King | Prachatai
North Korean hackers targeting South Korean journalists via Flash flaw | The Register