June 23, 2020
Protect the Open Technology Fund
Vietnamese activists rely on secure and open technologies supported by OTF
Viet Tan is deeply concerned about recent changes to the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees the Open Technology Fund (OTF) and US government-funded broadcasting organizations. The removal of the top leadership of OTF, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty diminishes key institutions promoting freedom of information. The dismissals of OTF CEO Libby Liu and President Laura Cunningham are a blow to the human rights community and internet freedom.
Since its inception eight years ago, the Open Technology Fund has supported open source tools and technology that have helped billions, including Vietnamese netizens, access information and communicate securely. Technologies and tools supported by OTF — such as Signal, Tor Browser, and countless others — are a critical lifeline for activists and journalists seeking to bypass censorship and stay safe from government surveillance.
OTF tools and programs have been invaluable to Viet Tan’s internet freedom program. OTF supported the development of a rapid response helpdesk in Vietnam to assist human rights defenders and journalists vulnerable to digital attacks. OTF programs localized tools and guides to empower users to circumvent the Vietnamese government’s firewall, access critical information, and safely document human rights abuses on the ground. Notably, OTF supported the first Vietnam Cyber Dialogue, enabling technologists and privacy experts to collaborate directly with Vietnamese activists.
OTF’s work is crucial at a time when the Vietnamese government and other authoritarian powers tighten information controls and crack down on free expression and peaceful organizing.
As a US entity, OTF is considered one of the most trusted and important funders in the internet freedom space, garnering bipartisan support. Together with more than 400 human rights, freedom of expression, and technology organizations, Viet Tan urges Members of Congress to support OTF and pass both House and Senate versions of the Open Technology Fund Authorization Act. USAGM should appoint experts and leaders with a track record of defending press freedom and an open internet.
Viet Tan calls on all communities who use and benefit from internet freedom tools to join the collective efforts to protect the Open Technology Fund. More information can be found at www.saveinternetfreedom.tech.
Contact: Duy Hoang +1 202-596-7951