By The IFF Team
Published: June 19th, 2020
Dear IFF Community:
Over the years, we have worked together to promote solidarity across regional and discipline lines, to fight surveillance and censorship, and to ensure that digital rights and freedom of expression are available for everybody, regardless of their creed, background, or political affiliation.
Today, we urgently need your help. We are sending a letter to the U.S. Congress to protect internet freedom, and we need you and your organization to sign it as soon as possible – We can’t stress how urgent this is.
Please do this regardless of whether you’re located in the United States. This is not just a U.S. issue: if what we are fearing ends up happening, it’s people outside the United States who will be harmed the most.
Here’s the Background
Yesterday, Michael Pack, the new Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), fired the heads of the five media organizations that the agency oversees. He also dismissed its bipartisan board, and replaced them with Trump loyalists.
One of the people he fired is Libby Liu, who had been CEO of the Open Technology Fund (OTF), one of the most important funders and trusted leaders in the Internet Freedom space.
We also know that the administration is thinking of shifting funding to only a handful of “closed-source” technologies, and potentially making leadership changes that will transform OTF from being a bipartisan program to a tool of the Trump administration.
If this happens, it will be catastrophic for internet freedom around the world, and will put thousands of journalists and human rights defenders at risk.
For the past eight years, OTF and the projects it supports have enabled more than two billion people in more than 60 countries to access the Internet more safely, to circumvent censorship and to evade surveillance by repressive state actors. Work funded by OTF has directly benefited journalists and human rights defenders in countries around the world such as China, Russian, Iran, and Turkey.
The Internet Freedom Festival wouldn’t exist without OTF’s early support, and we have always been proud to share their goals and be their partner. That’s why we’re asking you to help them now.
You can read more, and find out how to further support OTF, here: https://frama.link/saveinternetfreedom
Again, this is extremely urgent. The changes being pushed through by the Trump administration and by Michael Pack are taking place in a matter of hours and days, with no room for consultation or debate.
Please do what you can, right now, to Save Internet Freedom.