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.
2020 Information and Digital Rights Budget by Region
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.
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.
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.
Q&A: How Open Access Can Help Defeat COVID-19
In response to the pandemic, many scientific journals have lifted their paywalls on COVID-19-related research. The results have been positive, which raises a question: Why not do the same for research on other crises?
Q&A: Watching the Watchers during a Pandemic
With states around the world embracing surveillance technology against COVID-19, civil society groups must step up to ensure that individual rights and anticorruption laws are not sacrificed for the sake of an easy fix.
Why We Need Whistleblower Protections
Whistleblowers play an invaluable role in the struggle for transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, despite increasing efforts in many regions, whistleblowers are often vulnerable to reprisals and intimidation.