Program Areas

The Foundation board developed and refined the following program areas through a multi-month strategic planning process. We made multiple grants in the first four areas.

1. Privacy Education for Youth

The Beacon settlement agreement directs 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. Scholars and advocates have expressed 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. The Foundation intends to fund 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 intends 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 directs 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.

5. Innovation in Privacy Enhancing Technologies

Note: In June 2015, the board eliminated this program area and re-distributed funds to other program areas. Learn more.

Privacy enhancing technologies have been a long unrealized dream of those who care about digital civil liberties. Yet they remain out of practical reach for the average consumer. The Foundation intends to fund activities that encourage the development of seamless, multi-platform, easy-to-use, privacy-enhancing technologies.