The Foundation board developed and refined the following program areas through a multi-month strategic planning process. The Foundation made grants in the following areas:
1. Privacy Education for Youth
The Beacon settlement agreement directed the Foundation to invest in educating Internet users on how to protect themselves and their information from online threats. This program area focused on implementing, assessing, and disseminating educational strategies aimed at increasing the privacy resilience of children and teens and helping children and teens develop skills and resources to protect themselves in the digital environment throughout life.
2. Understanding Socioeconomic Status and Privacy
Since the investigations of John Gilliom and Ellen Alderman, there has been little inquiry into how people living in poverty or individuals marginalized by low socioeconomic status experience privacy. When the Foundation’s board was setting its grant-making priorities, scholars and advocates were expressing concerns that the poor may be subjected to greater government and private-sector surveillance by virtue of participation in social service programs, the dynamics of low-wage workplaces, and the reality of policing in poorer neighborhoods. In order to contribute to a growing body of research, the Foundation funded investigation of the privacy experience of people of low socioeconomic status.
3. Assessing Digital Abuse
Digital abuse can take many forms, including harassment, trolling, bullying, revenge porn, and sextortion. Although some legal and technical remedies exist, they may not reach far enough, particularly given the cost of litigation for victims. The Foundation intended to fund research projects on digital abuse and organizations providing direct services to victims.
4. General Funding for Promotion of Online Privacy, Safety, and Security
The Beacon settlement agreement directed the Foundation “to fund projects and initiatives that promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security.” The Foundation invited proposals to continue or expand existing projects that fit within the settlement’s broad mandate.