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OTF Monthly Report for June 2015

| By: Dan McDevitt

In the sixth round of FY15, OTF received over 40 submissions requesting over $6 million in support . In FY15, so far, OTF has received more than 200 submissions from projects, tools and individuals in need of assistance.

Notable accomplishments

The Open Net Africa project has continued its analysis of ICT policy developments in East and Southern Africa, including the controversial cybercrime bill in Tanzania, developments on Burundi’s media law, and exploring online censorship in South Africa. To ensure that key Internet freedom technologies are as user-friendly as possible, CIPESA and tech innovation hub OutBox challenged members of the Ugandan tech community to test five digital safety and security tools in order to gain an understanding, in a local context, of the tools’ strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for localisation. Results can be found here.

OTF signed a contract with privacy and security-enhancing NoScript, a free and open-source extension for Mozilla Firefox. OTF’s support comes at a crucial time as Mozilla prepares to implement broad changes to the way the Firefox browser operates. NoScript has created a public GutHub repository for its “Next Generation NoScript,” where all the new code for the new version of NoScript will be developed and committed. The GitHub repository can be found here.

Open-source operating system Qubes, which provides strong security for desktop computing, is now receiving OTF funds to continue their work improving usability and integration of Whonix, an operating system focused on anonymity, privacy and security based on the Tor network.

Several OTF projects and fellows participated in the 2015 Citizen Lab Summer Institute (CLSI), which brought together a diverse range of academic disciplines and technologist communities for workshops focusing on how censorship, circumvention, and surveillance have changed over the past year, new information controls research realms, and ways to collaborate on Internet freedom tool development, such as by building more robust lists of websites for use in testing for censorship monitoring tools. A full agenda and participant list can be found here.

An initial prototype of ICFP fellow Will Scott’s tool activist.js, a library which attempts to provide resilience for websites without cooperation from visitors, browsers, or the network, is now live at https://activistjs.com/.

A new version of Firefly, a high-speed proxy designed specifically to counteract the Great Firewall, has been released and is available here.

FreeBrowser, a browser that circumvents censorship by the Great Firewall, version 1.5 is now available for download.

The Localization Lab now has over 40 projects with nearly 4,000 participating individuals contributing to the submission and verification of over 485,000 translated words into over 200 languages and dialects.

OTF attended the Privacy Enhancing Technology Symposium in Philadelphia, where numerous OTF projects presented or were the subject of academic research including Tor, SecondMuse and SimplySecure.

The Secure Usability Fellowship Program has three new senior fellows: Gillian “Gus” Andrews, Kat Krol, and Maina Olembo, who will be working on advancing the research and documentation on how to make digital security tools more user-friendly. More information about their project scopes can be found here.

The Emerging Technology Fellowship Program has three new senior fellows who began work this month: Aaron Gibson, who is working on improving Tor bandwidth, Virgil Griffith, who aims to design a reputation-incentive to make contributing to the Tor network more compelling and a third fellow who is researching the best means of distributing access to censored websites through China’s Great Firewall.

OTF hosted DG7 partners from the BBG, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and France Medias Monde in Washington, DC for two days this month to reinforce the growing partnership and to continue discussions regarding emerging threats, shared challenges, best practices as well as joint projects and resources.

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

Hackers Target Tibetans With Malicious Google Drive Files | Motherboard

UN report promotes encryption as fundamental and protected right | CPJ

The real story of how the Internet became so vulnerable | Washington Post

Iran Increases Internet Surveillance Ahead of Parliamentary Elections | Global Voices Advocacy

Worrying Trend of Internet Shutdowns in Countries With Limited Connectivity | EFF

With its bizarre numerical WeChat ban, the Chinese government has reached peak Tiananmen paranoia | Quartz

Why Technology Hasn’t Delivered More Democracy | Foreign Policy

The Man Stopping Vladimir Putin From Taking Over the Internet | Politico

Facebook users can now add OpenPGP keys for improved e-mail security | Ars Technica

How Safe Are Internet Search Engines from Russian Censorship? | Global Voices Advocacy

Projects Mentioned