Open Technology Fund

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Open Technology Fund
Formation2012 (2012)
FounderLibby Liu
Dan Meredith[1]
PurposeThe funding of Internet censorship circumvention and Internet privacy technologies[2]
Headquarters2025 M Street NW, Suite 300
OwnerU.S. Agency for Global Media
Laura Cunningham[3]

The Open Technology Fund (OTF) is a U.S. Government funded program created in 2012 at Radio Free Asia to support global Internet freedom technologies. Its mission is to "[utilize] available funds to support projects that develop open and accessible technologies to circumvent censorship and surveillance, and thus promote human rights and open societies".[2]


The Open Technology Fund was created in 2012.[2] According to US journalist Eli Lake, the idea for the creation of the Open Technology Fund was the result of a policy advocated by Hillary Clinton when she was the U.S. Secretary of State.[4] Lake has written that Clinton's policy was "heavily influenced by the Internet activism that helped organize the green revolution in Iran in 2009 and other revolutions in the Arab world in 2010 and 2011".[4]

In September 2014, the Open Technology Fund worked with Google and Dropbox to create an organization called Simply Secure to help improve the usability of privacy tools.[5]

Organization and funding[edit]

The Open Technology Fund reports to Radio Free Asia's president, who in turn reports to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).[2] The OTF is sustained by annual grants from the BBG, which originate from yearly U.S. Congressional appropriations for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.[2] According to the OTF, it works together with other publicly funded programs to fulfill a U.S. Congressional mandate to sustain and increase global freedom of information on the Internet with public funds.[2]


As of February 2016, the Open Technology Fund supports 83 projects, consisting of over 2 700 developers, technologists, and translators.[6] Notable projects that the OTF has supported include The Tor Project, Open Whisper Systems, Cryptocat, GlobaLeaks, Tor2web, The Guardian Project, Citizen Lab, Commotion Wireless, Lantern, Serval Project, Briar, NoScript, Qubes OS, and Tails.[7]

The OTF funds third party audits for all of the code related projects that it supports.[8] It has also offered to fund audits of "non-OTF supported projects that are in use by individuals and organizations under threat of censorship/surveillance".[8] Notable projects whose audits the OTF has sponsored include Cryptocat,[9] Commotion Wireless,[10] TextSecure,[10] GlobaLeaks,[10] MediaWiki,[11] OpenPGP.js,[12] Nitrokey,[13] and Ricochet.[14] The OTF also matched donations that were made toward the auditing of TrueCrypt.[15] In December 2014, the OTF reported that it had funded more than 30 technology code audits over the past three years, identifying 185 privacy and security vulnerabilities in both OTF and non-OTF-funded projects.[8]

In December 2015, The Tor Project announced that the OTF will be sponsoring a bug bounty program that will be coordinated by HackerOne.[16][17] The program will initially be invite-only and will focus on finding vulnerabilities that are specific to The Tor Project's applications.[16]

See also[edit]

  • Freedom of the Press Foundation – a non-governmental organization that has also supported some of the same projects that the OTF has supported
  • Mass surveillance – the intricate surveillance of an entire or a substantial fraction of a population in order to monitor that group of citizens
  • NetFreedom Task Force – an initiative within the U.S. Department of State that was established in February 2006


  1. ^ "Team". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "About the program". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Team". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Lake, Eli (18 September 2015). "Government Is Fighting Itself on Encryption". Bloomberg View (Column). Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 15 February 2016. Note: The author uses "Open Whisper" when referring to Open Whisper Systems.
  5. ^ Rushe, Dominic (18 September 2014). "Google and Dropbox launch Simply Secure to improve online security". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Results". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Projects". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Hurley, Chad (10 December 2014). "Code Audits are Good. Making Code Audits Public is Better". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  9. ^ Diquet, Alban; Thiel, David; Stender, Scott (7 February 2014). "Open Technology Fund CryptoCat iOS Application Penetration Test" (PDF). iSEC Partners. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Ritter, Tom (14 October 2013). "Working with the Open Technology Fund". iSEC Partners. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  11. ^ Steipp, Chris (20 April 2015). "Improving the security of our users on Wikimedia sites". Wikimedia Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  12. ^ Heiderich, Mario; Kotowicz, Krzysztof; Magazinius, Jonas; Antesberger, Franz (February 2014). "Pentest-Report OpenPGP.js 02.2014" (PDF). Cure53. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  13. ^ McDevitt, Dan (2 October 2015). "Nitrokey Storage Firmware and Hardware Security Audits". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  14. ^ Cox, Joseph (17 February 2016). "'Ricochet', the Messenger That Beats Metadata, Passes Security Audit". Motherboard. Vice Media LLC. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  15. ^ White, Kenneth; Green, Matthew (21 January 2014). "IsTrueCryptAuditedYet?". Open Crypto Audit Project. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  16. ^ a b Cox, Joseph (29 December 2015). "The Tor Project Is Starting a Bug Bounty Program". Motherboard. Vice Media LLC. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  17. ^ Conditt, Jessica (31 December 2015). "Tor plans to launch a bug bounty program". Engadget. AOL Inc. Retrieved 14 February 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]