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January 2016 Monthly Report

| By: Dan McDevitt

In January, the Open Technology Fund continued funding its diverse portfolio of Internet freedom projects and fellows. So far, in calendar year 2016, OTF has received over 30 project submissions from activists and groups seeking support-many requesting urgent, rapid assistance as these groups continue to face new, grave and sophisticated methods of digital attack from repressive states and adversaries.

Notable accomplishments

  • Lantern, a censorship circumvention tool that delivers fast and secure access to blocked sites, released its mobile version for Android. By the end of January, Lantern had 380,000 monthly active users and 112,505 daily active users. The app is used widely in repressive environments such as China and Iran. Download Lantern for your mobile here: https://twitter.com/getlantern/status/687470781027205120

  • The Tibet Action Institute began OTF-supported work to enable three Tibetan civil society organizations to properly and thoroughly address targeted malware attacks. Tibetan NGOs are on the frontlines of targeted attacks, facing a constant barrage of specialized attacks. This project will analyze the needs and vulnerabilities of each organization, put systems in place to prevent future attacks, assess whether they are already compromised, and responding rapidly to and mitigating attacks if they occur. Read more here: https://www.opentech.fund/project/emergency-response-cyberattacks-tibetan-community

  • Mailvelope, a browser extension that facilitates email encryption for users of browser based email providers, is now available in the Ukrainian language, opening up Mailvelope’s secure email tool to NGOs, journalists, and other users in a country that has found itself under constant attack from Russian aggression and increasingly prevalent widespread censorship and cyber attacks.

  • Tails, a privacy and anonymity enhancing operating system, released Tails version 2.0, an update featuring a new, more user-friendly desktop layout and also critical software updates to increase security. You can read more about the release and download Tails here: https://tails.boum.org/news/version_2.0/index.en.html

  • OTF opened a request for proposals from professional organization and agencies to produce a landscaping report on Internet freedom and anti-censorship within the context of international broadcasting - a joint project for the members of the DG7. More details can be found here: https://www.opentech.fund/article/request-proposals-producing-internet-freedom-landscaping-report

  • Tor released Tor Browser version 5.5, which gives users increased security and privacy by providing defense against font enumeration attacks while also enhancing usability with new available languages and a more secure search function, using search engine DuckDuckGo’s Tor-only .onion URL as the default search engine. You can download the latest Tor Browser release on Tor’s blog: https://blog.torproject.org/blog/

  • Secure Usability Fellow Gus Andrews gave a talk at annual hacker convention ShmooCon in Washington, DC, entitled “Users Are People Too” in which Andrews discussed ways of creating secure tools that prioritize usability and the importance of getting feedback from actual users in improving existent tools.

  • K-9 Mail, an open source encrypted email program for Android, is now under contract with OTF to make the K-9 app compatible with OpenPGP, creating a more secure and trustworthy email exchange and adding much needed feature and usability improvements often requested by journalists and activists.

  • Subgraph OS, a secure desktop operating system designed for high security use cases and for a simple, user-friendly experience, has begun open testing for the pre-alpha version of its operating system. Subgraph will come with a secure messaging platform, CoyIM, pre-installed and will use the Tor browser by default. More information here: https://support.subgraph.com/private/sgos/pre-alpha/

Select news collected by OTF from the month of January 2016. Get the full feed live @OpenTechFund

Hacking by China, Iran and North Korea set to increase dramatically over next 12 months | IB Times
How censorship works in Vladimir Putin’s Russia | Washington Post
China has censored artwork about Tibet - at a fair in Bangladesh | Quartz
Thailand asked Google to make censorship easier | Asian Correspondent
Chinese Netizens Flood Tsai Ing-Wen’s Facebook Page with Anti-Taiwan Independence Posts | Wall Street Journal
Brazilian Lawmakers Threaten to Crack Down on Internet Freedom | Time
Facebook Adding Tor support on Android | Facebook
Canadian Company Netsweeper to Censor Bahrain’s Internet for $1.2M | Motherboard
Police Increase Checks of Uyghur Smartphone Users in Xinjiang | Radio Free Asia
The Imperiled Bloggers of Bangladesh | New York Times
Chinese Hackers tried to Take Down Tibetan Social Networking Website | The Hacker News

Projects Mentioned