White House to fund tech to evade censorship and increase privacy

The Open Technology Fund will offer grants to international applicants for technology that enables content-sharing and communication without an Internet or cellular connection, with the goal of bypassing an internet shutdown.

The White House will launch an initiative on Wednesday to award grants to innovators working on technology to bolster democracy by developing tools that enhance privacy or circumvent censorship, a White House official told Reuters.

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Winners of the two biggest grants will get a total of $3.75 million, the official said.

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The project, part of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Dec. 9-10 "Summit for Democracy," aims to promote democratic values "in the face of asymmetries in the way democratic and autocratic actors leverage and derive value from emerging technologies," the White House will say in its announcement.

As part of the program, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will work with the United Kingdom to offer grants to advance and boost the adoption of technology that promotes privacy and protects intellectual property.

The Open Technology Fund will offer grants to international applicants for technology that enables content-sharing and communication without an Internet or cellular connection, with the goal of bypassing an internet shutdown.

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Finally, regional competitions in Democratic countries will identify entrepreneurs that create and advance technologies that foster democracy.

More than 100 world leaders have been invited to the White House’s virtual Democracy event, which aims to help stop the erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide. China and Russia were not invited.

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