Internet Freedom

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) works to advance the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms online through a diverse set of Internet freedom policy and programming activities. DRL works to advance Internet freedom through bilateral and multilateral engagement, partnership with civil society and the private sector, and foreign assistance programming efforts. Our activities include:

Representative policy engagements:

  • Raising Internet freedom in bilateral human rights dialogues with key governments, including China and Vietnam;
  • Multilateral coordination through initiatives such as the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a forum for like-minded governments — with 30 members spanning Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East — committed to collaborating to advance Internet freedom;
  • Outreach to industry and civil society through multi-stakeholder engagement on specific issues related to Internet freedom, including on the margins of the Internet Governance Forum, and other venues.

Internet Freedom Programming

Since 2008, Congress has appropriated more than $145 million to the State Department and USAID for activities that advance Internet freedom. These funds are programmed in accordance with the 2011 International Strategy for Cyberspace.

DRL takes a “venture capital” approach to its Internet freedom programming and invests in diverse responses to Internet repression. This means providing seed money for new ideas as well as supporting more-established programs that could scale rapidly and have high impact. Some programs create and leverage technological innovations, while others focus on training, research, and advocacy. All programs seek to advance fundamental human rights such as the freedoms of expression, association, assembly. DRL strives to advance short, medium, and long term Internet freedom – improve technologies to safeguard online activists, protect people and organizations at risk, give them the capacity to communicate safely going forward, and push for reform of the policies that repress human rights. The DRL portfolio constitutes the most comprehensive support for Internet freedom of any funder, private or public. Areas of activity include:

  • Technology Development
  • Digital Safety
  • Rapid Response
  • Advocacy
  • Research