Dear Chairman Engel and Ranking Member McCaul:
We write to express our very deep concerns with the recent firings actions taken by the new CEO of the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) against the Open Technology Fund (OTF). A the committees with jurisdiction over USAGM, we urge you to convene an oversight hearing in which CEO Michael Pack answers for the actions he took and to provide answers to the questions and concerns that a number of members of Congress have expressed regarding them. At risk here is the future of the incredible work of OTF.
Freedom of speech and expression are essential to establishing and maintaining a functioning democracy. Since its establishment, the OTF has been instrumental in fostering democracy by providing tools to help those living under authoritarian regimes access the internet and communicate with one another without fear of retribution from those governments. Its funding provides essential resources for the development of open-source security tools to protect citizens living under these regimes whose activities are perceived as threatening.
OTF’s work demands that its staff and board have an understanding of both policy and technology to further its efforts. With the recent firings, that ability has been called into question. To ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted, that the lives of those that rely on OTF’s technology are not put at risk, and that the app economy, an increasingly core component of free speech globally, continues to flourish, we respectfully request the House Foreign Affairs Committee exercise its oversight function by calling Mr. Pack to testify on the rationale behind these actions and the plan forward for OTF.
President, App Coalition