ARTICLE 19 and leading free speech and digital rights organisations have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC circuit asserting the CEO of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), Michael Pack dismissal of the Open Technology Fund’s (OTF) leadership last month violated the First Amendment.
OTF is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, whose programmes have helped people overcome repressive surveillance and censorship in China, Cuba, Turkey and Russia.
Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 Quinn McKew said:
“Through programmes that defend the open Internet, the Open Technology Fund has protected journalists, activists and human rights campaigners around the world.
“This vital work is being threatened by the political manoeuvrings of USAGM, which threaten the independence of the OTF. These actions not only breach US law but will have an impact on global freedom of expression.”
The amicus brief points out that under US law, the OTF is both independent and separate from the US Government. However, Pack’s decision to fire CEO Libby Liu, President Laura Cunningham and the OTF’s board of directors undermines this independence, and as the brief points out: “OTF cannot perform its important mission unless the international community views it as independent of the Government.”
OTF has funded the creation of open source privacy and security technologies, which have helped over 2 billion people in over 60 countries access the Internet safely.
The parties of the amicus brief are:
The App Coalition
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
The Center for Democracy and Technology
The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law
The Committee to Protect Journalists
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Media Democracy Fund
Open Technology Institute
Ranking Digital Rights
The Tor Project
The Wikimedia Foundation