The Internet Freedom Fund


Organisation:  Open Technology Fund

Apply By:  01 Jul . 2018


The Internet Freedom Fund
 

The Internet Freedom Fund is OTF's primary way to support projects and people working on open and accessible technology-centric projects that promote human rights, internet freedom, open societies, and help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks for at-risk users including journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, and every-day people living within repressive environments who wish to speak freely online.

Setting the stage

Through the Internet Freedom Fund, OTF strives to uphold and increase capacity for individuals, organizations, and companies who support technology-centered efforts that aim to strengthen internet freedom and promote human rights by circumventing repressive censorship and surveillance, improving related digital security capabilities, and contributing to the overall health of the internet.

Ideal Internet Freedom Fund applicants are:

  • Open in nature and collaborative;
  • From within communities affected by censorship or are co-designing and co-developing with them;
  • Promoting a deeper understanding of internet freedom challenges and limitations;
  • Solving a currently unaddressed challenge or preempting an emerging one; and/or
  • Are actively maintaining technologies demanded and utilized by people on the front lines of the world’s most repressive environments.

Ideal applications for this fund are focused on:

  • Creating new open source circumvention technologies that fill a current need of targeted users;
  • Improving the security, usability, and adoptability of existing open source internet freedom technologies;
  • Providing new or deeper insights into the challenges of front-line communities that ultimately contribute to the improvement of technological solutions;
  • Projects that emphasize applied research;
  • Research that focuses on real-time monitoring and analysis of both technical and political threats to internet freedom, including network interference and shutdowns;
  • New content redistribution methods able to reintroduce content behind firewalls, or similar services;
  • Making targeted communities more resilient to digital attacks via customized solutions;
  • Creating new open source circumvention technologies that fill a current need of targeted users;
  • Next-generation tools that move beyond traditional “cat-and-mouse” circumvention techniques;

Ideal applications adhere to the following:

  • Candidates can apply for up to $900,000 and no less than $10,000 for a year long contract. Note, however, that OTF’s target support ceiling is $300,000, with most supported efforts receiving between $50,000 and $200,000.
  • Preference is given to organizations and individuals without a history of prior support, and who have a deep understanding of the surveillance, censorship and security issues affecting communities from the Global South living in repressive environments.
  • Strong priority goes to projects with the potential for immediate impact and long-term sustainability, and that make intellectual property publicly available via open licensing and open source code.
  • OTF highly values projects that incorporate collaborative partnerships with other organizations and/or individuals within the internet freedom community or their respective area of focus.

Criteria

Quality of project idea: Applications should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the mission of promoting freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online.

Ability to achieve objectives: A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity of the organization. The work plan should adhere to the overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. After this application, OTF will request a full proposal, where applicants will have to provide a monthly timeline of project activities.

Cost effectiveness: Any overhead and administrative components included in the application should be kept as low as possible. All items should be necessary and appropriate. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by OTF.

Multiplier effect/sustainability: Applications should address how the expected results will contribute to improving internet freedom goals. Applications should address how the effort will be sustained in the long-term.

Applicants’ record and capacity: OTF will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.

Eligibility

Ideal applicants are making use of, support, or develop open and accessible technologies promoting human rights and open societies, and help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks. In addition, ideal applicants meet one or more of the following:

  • Individuals of all ages irrespective of nationality, residency, creed, gender, or other factors, with the exception that OTF is not able to support applicants within countries that the United States has trade restrictions or export sanctions as determined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC);
  • Non-profit organization/non-government organization, including U.S.-based NGO, PIO, or foreign NGO;
  • Non-profit university or research institution in any country;
  • For-profit organization or business in any country;
  • Consortia of multiple people or organizations with one individual or organization designated as the lead applicant;
  • Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, preferably targeting the requested program area, or similarly challenging program environments where OTF reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations;
  • Ideal applicants should not duplicate or simply add to efforts supported by other USG funding programs;
  • Ideal applicants must not reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.

When are requests for applications made?

  • Internet Freedom Fund concept notes are accepted on a rolling basis, with submission rounds closing every two months. For the next upcoming batch deadline, see the header at the top of this page. Please note that concept notes must be submitted via the OTF website no later than 23:59 (11:59PM) GMT on the deadline date listed at the top of this page in order to be considered for that round.

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