5 Freedom Tech and Privacy Projects You Can Joinby@obyte
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5 Freedom Tech and Privacy Projects You Can Join

by ObyteMarch 20th, 2024
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Do you already know how to protect your privacy and digital rights? There are several projects and organizations working for it. Find out more about them!
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Have you ever paused to consider just how much of your personal life is floating around in the digital world? And what exactly are faceless companies and dubious people doing with it? It could be an unsettling thought, indeed. That's precisely why safeguarding your digital privacy is so crucial in today's interconnected age. It's all about ensuring your security and maintaining your autonomy —financial autonomy, data autonomy, etc.

In this era, there are regions where every digital move you make is being monitored. Countries like North Korea, China, and Iran are notorious for their stringent Internet censorship policies, modifying the truth to their convenience. It's not merely about restricting access to certain websites; it's about overseeing virtually every aspect of your online presence and even manipulating your thoughts and money.

Fortunately, there are initiatives aimed at addressing these concerns and championing your digital rights. Several organizations and projects worldwide are already there, aiming to use new technologies to reach freedom and privacy for everyone. And you could even collaborate with some of them. Let’s find out more below.

Free Software Foundation (FSF)

This organization is dedicated to preserving the ethos of free and open-source software (FOSS). They firmly believe in affording you the freedom to utilize, examine, adapt, and distribute software as you see fit. Moreover, they're fervently committed to disseminating knowledge and raising awareness about the significance of these principles.

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It was created in October 1985 by Richard Stallman and has been supported from its inception by digital freedom enthusiasts. Over the years, the FSF has achieved remarkable milestones, with one of its most significant accomplishments being the coding and support of the GNU Project —ideated by Stallman in 1983. This initiative seeks to develop a fully free and open-source operating system. The GNU Project is considered the beginning of the FOSS movement, inspiring countless developers and users worldwide.

According to the GNU Manifesto published by Stallman:

“I consider that the Golden Rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement."

With unwavering dedication, the FSF continues to strive towards its overarching goal: to foster a world where all software respects the fundamental freedoms of its users. They accept support in the form of donations or volunteering. You can join the FSF community team, participate in campaigns, attend local events, or even organize activities in your own community.

Additionally, you can contribute through writing, blogging, or assisting with technical tasks such as maintaining websites or contributing to the GNU Project itself.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

This NGO was founded in 1990 by John Gilmore, also a founding member of cypherpunks, along with John Perry Barlow (author of the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace), and Mitch Kapor (creator of Firefox). Their mission revolves around safeguarding online rights, whether it entails combatting mass surveillance or defending freedom of expression. Not only do they advocate for these causes, but they also equip people with the requisite tools and insights to fortify their online defenses.

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Through legal advocacy, the EFF takes on cases involving privacy violations, government surveillance, and free speech issues. They also work to shape policies and legislation that protect digital rights and promote Internet freedom, and develop technologies to enhance online privacy and security. Education and awareness efforts are part of their job as well while offering support and assistance to individuals and organizations facing digital rights issues, providing guidance, referrals, and legal resources to navigate challenges such as censorship and surveillance. They operate worldwide.

It’s possible to donate to them, but also volunteer with your own skills. If you're a technologist, you can volunteer your skills to support software projects crucial to EFF's work. Additionally, you could also help with translations and mailing lists as an attorney, researcher, or artist. Every collaboration is welcomed.

Privacy International (PI)

Founded in 1990 by privacy activist Simon Davies, the primary goal of this charity is to restore agency over personal data. They tirelessly strive to ensure that neither governmental bodies nor corporate entities encroach upon personal online activities without explicit consent. Their efforts extend beyond rhetoric since they're actively developing tools to empower people to monitor who's tracking them online. It’s based in London but operates globally.

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Through research, advocacy campaigns, and strategic litigation, PI advocates for policies and practices that safeguard people's privacy in an increasingly interconnected digital environment prone to intrusion, from digital content to biometrics. Their work has had quite an impact, indeed.

As we can see on their website, PI has influenced significant changes in business practices, with 39 companies adjusting their models or products since 2019, affecting over 3 billion people worldwide. Additionally, PI's advocacy efforts have led to 20 court decisions against exploitative practices in more than 50 countries and advancements in privacy legislation in 20 countries. They also have published numerous studies and research exposing abuses and supported public campaigns to build pressure against problematic conduct by companies and governments.

To support their goals, you could donate, subscribe to their community, learn from them how to protect your online privacy, or join their privacy campaigns. The latter might involve sending letters to local authorities asking for accountability about privacy issues.

Freedom Tech

Not to be confused with TechFreedom (another interesting NGO, by the way), Freedom Tech involves cryptocurrencies more actively. Something that was to be expected since it’s an initiative launched in 2023 by Foundation, a crypto hardware wallet manufacturer. This is a content hub for learners and experts alike to share their knowledge and resources about cryptocurrencies, privacy, open-source tools, activism, and real use cases of technology to avoid authority oppression.

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The platform was also made to promote and support software projects designed for freedom and privacy. Their ethos is fully aligned with crypto-anarchism and cypherpunk principles, empowering individuals through technology while championing privacy, decentralization, and cryptographic solutions to enhance personal freedom and autonomy. Inspired by the legacy of crypto-anarchists and cypherpunks who sought to use technology to enable individual sovereignty and resist oppressive control, Freedom Tech embraces the belief that technology should serve as a tool for liberation rather than surveillance.

Individuals can contribute by sharing their unique narratives and perspectives, amplifying diverse voices, and establishing connections with like-minded individuals and projects. Additionally, backing freedom tech projects financially and raising awareness about them helps sustain and expand initiatives aimed at empowering users and safeguarding their privacy. They’ve shared their own list of freedom tech software projects in need of support.

Open Technology Fund (OTF)

This NGO was established in 2012 by privacy activist Libby Liu, then president of Radio Free Asia, an entity of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM). It operates internationally with a mission to promote freedom of expression and access to information by funding and supporting open-source technology projects.

Through its initiatives, OTF aims to empower individuals and communities worldwide, particularly those living under repressive regimes, by providing them with tools to circumvent censorship and surveillance. It supports projects that develop and maintain technologies such as Tor, a decentralized network that enables anonymous communication and bypasses Internet censorship, as well as various encryption tools and digital security resources.

Additionally, OTF advocates for Internet freedom through research and collaboration with civil society organizations and tech communities globally. Besides Tor, they financially support numerous open-source projects against surveillance and censorship, including but not limited to OpenVPN, Global Surveillance Tracker, Filezilla, Digital Democracy, FreeWeChat, and Lantern. Any project aligned with their ethos could apply for funding. So, in this one, you could actually receive some help instead of giving it.

Bonus: Obyte

We can say that the initiatives above support several software projects, and by collaborating with them (either with funds or time), we could make a difference. However, it’s also important to use privacy tools to protect your own data, funds, and online activities against surveillance, manipulation, censorship, or even robbery. Obyte could help you with it as much as the tools under the umbrella of these organizations.

Our DAG-based and decentralized network aligns with the principles of crypto-anarchism and cypherpunk movements by providing a neutral, ownerless space that enhances individual privacy, security, freedom, and autonomy online. By using Obyte's decentralized platform, users can circumvent local limitations and securely chat and transact with anyone, anywhere in the world, without relying on traditional banking institutions, centralized companies or blockchain miners, and without fear of being censored or blocked.

Moreover, Obyte's smart contract capabilities enable users to create and execute self-enforcing agreements without the need for intermediaries, further empowering people to exercise their autonomy and freedom online. Overall, Obyte network offers a means to preserve online rights and financial freedom anytime, anywhere.


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