As a platform that enables the human rights of free expression and assembly, the internet faces increasing repression from both government and corporate actors. Information controls, digital surveillance, and online censorship threaten access to information, organization and human connection, worldwide. Combating these encroachments has become critical to expanding and defending essential rights and social justice across every issue area and geographic region in the 21st century.
MDF is excited to announce a new collaboration with the Open Technology Fund (OTF) to provide private funding support for open technologies and communities that increase free expression, circumvent censorship, and obstruct repressive surveillance. With the request from Congress that public funds be “matched, to the maximum extent practicable, by sources other than the United States Government, including from the private sector”, MDF and OTF’s new collaboration will generate increased support for high-quality and worthwhile internet freedom projects that might otherwise go unsupported due to a lack of resources.
OTF is a global Internet freedom technology incubator for tools supporting free expression, human rights, and social justice worldwide. Created by Radio Free Asia in 2012 to distribute public funds to fight censorship in repressive countries, OTF has supported tools such as Lantern, a censorship circumvention app popular in China and Iran; easy-to-use secure messaging platform Cryptocat; and rapid response interventions supporting users in Azerbaijan, Vietnam, and the Tibetan diaspora community, among many others.
For applicants and projects already supported by OTF (or MDF), this new collaboration changes nothing in terms of process or structure. Interested parties will still apply for funding via the OTF website. What will change going forward is that OTF/MDF are now able to offer increased support for repressed internet users and the global internet freedom community.
To manage the MDF-OTF collaboration, MDF recently hired Trinh Nguyen as the new Program Manager. Trinh comes from the Vietnamese pro-democracy movement, having worked to localize and distribute circumvention technology and tools.