OTF Monthly Report for September 2015

Thu, 2015-10-01 00:00

In September, the Open Technology Fund continued funding its diverse portfolio of Internet freedom projects while reviewing and responding to more than 40 new concept notes requesting more than $10 million in support.

Notable accomplishments

  • Security First announced the public beta launch of the Umbrella App, a free, open-source Android mobile app that provides activists, journalists, and aid workers with a one stop shop for digital and physical security information. The app is available for download on the Google Play Store here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.secfirst.umbrella
  • Secure Usability Fellow Gus Andrews conducted user experience reviews of open source communications tool Briar and secure VPN Bitmask, developed by the OTF-funded LEAP Encryption Access Project. Read the Briar review here: https://simplysecure.org/blog/briar-expert-review/ and the Bitmask review here: https://medium.com/@gusandrews/expert-ux-review-bitmask-linux-desktop-client-9fff04fc50f8
  • In their first month of OTF support, Open Cuba conducted research on Cuban Internet penetration and how Cubans access Internet content offline, incorporating these findings into deciding the software most suitable for its intended users.
  • The University of California Berkeley Counter-Censorship Incubator’s circumvention tool, Meek, has found widespread acceptance and adoption among Internet users worldwide. Meek, along with systems descended from or inspired by it, connect thousands of users daily and transfer many terabytes of circumvention traffic each month. A notable outcome has been increased collaboration between different circumvention projects such as Tor, Psiphon, Lantern, and Firefly Proxy, each of whom have deployed their own domain-fronting system based off of the Meek protocol.
  • ICFP Fellow Timothy Libert worked on completing the first phase of the Ranking Digital Rights project, the Corporate Accountability Index, which ranks the human rights, free expression, and privacy commitments of major Internet and telecommunications firms around the globe. Libert also co-authored an op-ed on Google’s ‘return’ to China: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/21/google-is-returning-to-china-it-never-really-left
  • ICFP Fellow Bendert Zevenbergen co-authored a paper exploring the ethics of a new censorship measurement tool that tracks Internet censorship across the globe by executing code on the web browsers of people who visited certain web sites, without their consent. Read “No Encore for Encore? Ethical Questions for Web-based Censorship Measurement” here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2665148
  • Benetech announced the beta phase of their secureApp Generator prototype, a web-based tool to allow organizations to configure and customize Android apps for easy, distributed, and secure form-based human rights data collection. An overview and download is available here: https://benetech.app.box.com/secureAppOverviewDoc
  • Qubes, a security-focused free and open source operating system, released the final 3.0 version. A rundown of Qubes 3.0 can be read here: http://blog.invisiblethings.org/2015/10/01/qubes-30.html and is available for download here: https://www.qubes-os.org/downloads/
  • ICFP Fellow Jason Q. Ng authored a piece based off his recent research into China’s censorship of messages on WeChat. Read “China’s Rumor Mill” in Foreign Affairs here: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2015-10-06/chinas-rumor-mill
  • The OpenNet Africa project launched their report “State of Internet Freedom in East Africa 2015” which analyzes the findings of a study on the threats to access, privacy and security online, as well as the knowledge, attitudes and practices of citizens on internet freedom in East Africa. The report can be accessed here: http://www.cipesa.org/?wpfb_dl=193

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

Thailand Set to Build China-Like Internet Firewall | Voice of America

More Than 4.2 Billion People Still Won’t Have Internet This Year | Motherboard

South Korea-backed app puts children at risk | AP

How Putin Controls the Internet and Popular Opinion in Russia | The Intercept

Cambodian Government Plans Stricter Internet Controls | Radio Free Asia

The Russian government hired people to hack the Tor browser, but they failed | Meduza

Journalists arrested on terrorism charges in Turkey for using crypto software | Ars Technica

Surveillance forces journalists to think and act like spies | CPJ