In March, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law, providing $1.5 trillion for the government through fiscal year (FY) 2022. Included within these appropriations are funds allocated for Internet freedom programs, earmarked in the appropriations bill under the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
For FY 2022, Congress allocated $77.5 million for programs to promote Internet freedom globally, representing a $7.5 million increase from FY 2021. Of the funds allocated for Internet freedom, $27 million was designated for Open Technology Fund (OTF) through the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the federal agency through which OTF is appropriated. The FY2022 budget – an increase of roughly $7 million from the previous fiscal year – recognizes the importance of OTF’s work in advancing internet freedom in repressive environments and securing digital rights globally.
The additional funding granted to OTF by Congress will significantly assist OTF’s work to advance internet freedom by supporting the applied research, development, implementation, and maintenance of technologies that provide unfettered access to the internet and counter attempts by authoritarian governments to control the internet and restrict freedom online. The funding is also further recognition of OTF’s success and the increasing need for the tools and technologies it supports. 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 devices.
In February 2021, OTF re-opened all funding opportunities and has been hard at work supporting new projects, strengthening existing technologies, and supporting new research fellowships. OTF receives, reviews, and contracts projects on a continual rolling basis, and the additional support to the budget will only strengthen OTF’s ability to support internet freedom across the globe.
If you are working to advance Internet freedom and are in need of support, please explore OTF’s available funding mechanisms through our Funds, Fellowships, and Labs. We encourage you to apply if you think your idea is a good fit. We look forward to hearing from you.