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Information and Digital Rights

We support efforts to strengthen freedom of expression, privacy, access to information and antidiscrimination in the digital environment, and to ensure that the rapid evolution of digital technology supports open society values.

$16.2M 2020 budget for Information and Digital Rights
1.3% Percentage of global budget
3.8% Average annual change in budget since 2016

2020 Information and Digital Rights Budget by Region


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      Explore our full budget by theme and region

      Our Work

      Our work includes efforts to curb overly broad and unaccountable surveillance—an issue highlighted by the growing use of digital tracing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We also work to make major internet platforms more accountable to the public and to expose and challenge problems caused by algorithmic decision-making, which risks creating new forms of discrimination. We support a global movement to make knowledge more accessible and to strengthen new ways of using technology and data for evidence and advocacy.

      A man scans a QR code at a shopping mall
      A man scans a QR code at a shopping mall as part of a digital contact tracing program, in Singapore, on May 16, 2020. © YK Chan/AP Photo

      Open Internet

      Supporters of a free and open internet gather during an outdoor demonstration.
      People gather in Vienna, Austria, to demonstrate in favor of net neutrality on March 6, 2016. © Karola Riegler/Save the Internet

      In the 1990s, the Open Society Foundations supported the development of internet access in the former Communist states where it was working, funding access to libraries and schools from Hungary to Kazakhstan.

      Today, we support groups around the world that work on protecting the open internet, such as Brazil’s Institute of Technology and Society, which helped shape a 2016 law on internet rights, or Pakistan’s Bolo Bhi, which contested a draconian and loosely written cybersecurity law. We also support digital rights groups in Europe to enforce the new EU General Data Protection Regulation, the new global gold standard for data privacy.

      Academic Openness

      A researcher works in a lab
      A researcher works to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on March 26, 2020. © Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty

      Since 2001, the Open Society Foundations have supported the Open Access model for academic research—an alternative publishing and distribution model that makes scholarly research literature freely available to the public online. This has included supporting Open Access for medical research, which has assisted the drive to develop therapies and vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Litigation

      Our Human Rights Initiative and Information Program directly support groups that have challenged government surveillance in Europe, the United States, and Latin America. The Open Society Justice Initiative is engaged in litigation to reinforce the public’s right to information in Latin America. 

      A line of people with their arms in the air and their wrists crossed as if their hands were bound.
      Civil society activists and journalists pretend to turn themselves in during a protest against alleged government spying in Mexico City on June 23, 2017. © Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

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