Obstruction to information (in any form of it) is a a very common phenomenon in many parts of the world. While some of us who are based in countries where basic freedom of speech is taken for granted, that’s often not the norm for many countries. In the age of internet censorship and surveillance we are happy to have received support from Open Tech Fund (OTF) to help security and privacy-preserving projects with the mission to improve the internet freedom landscape.

As part of our involvement with the Usability Lab at OTF, our Operations Manager, Mariana Balla was also present at the OTF Summit in Taipei, Taiwan on 29 and 30th October. The Summit serves as a place to meet in person, identify new threats and opportunites, and generally showcase a recap of the work partners have done so far.

Throughout the first day of the Summit, participants were split into separate working groups based on the region they are based from. As part of the Caucasus and Eastern Europe group, attendees faciliated sessions which gave an overview on the state of the said region, especially focusing on the Crimea region due to the political instability since 2014. These discussions were tremendously fruitful to understand context of these communities, something which the western industry often lacks unfortunately. During the second part of the day, attendees gathered again to present the conclusions of these discussions to the bigger group.

Taipei photo

While the first day of the Summit presented a high level overview of the state of Internet Freedom, the second day consisted of 5 minute Q&A sessions with the various OTF Labs and Fellows. In the evening, attendees met during a tradional Taiwanese dinner with local activists and representatives from the Taiwanese government. Under the leadership of their digital minister Audrey Tang, Taiwan has put enormous efforts to increase transparency and actually implement open source solutions in governmental offices, making the country a leading example of governance in the digital spectrum.

The Open Tech Fund Summit was an excellent opportunity for us to connect names and faces and get closer with the work each one of us have been doing. As a design studio focused on Open Source and Internet Freedom projects, the context and background information the Summit provided was a great asset for our future work. With 2018 coming to a close, we look forward to the next chapter of supporting Internet Freedom projects in 2019. If you are interested to know more, why not reach out to us?