New Major Funding from the Ford Foundation

ISRG's pragmatic, public-interest approach to Internet security has fundamentally changed the web at an astonishing scale and pace.

New Major Funding from the Ford Foundation
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ISRG's pragmatic, public-interest approach to Internet security has fundamentally changed the web at an astonishing scale and pace.

Michael Brennan, Ford Foundation

The Internet has considerable potential to help build a more just, equitable, and sustainable world for all people. Yet for everyone online—and indeed the billions not yet online—barriers to secure and privacy-respecting communication remain pervasive.

ISRG was founded in 2013 to find and eliminate these barriers. Today, we’re proud to announce a $1M grant from the Ford Foundation to continue our efforts.

Our first project, Let’s Encrypt, leverages technology whose foundation has existed for nearly three decades—TLS certificates for securely communicating information via HTTP. Yet even for people well-versed in technology, adopting TLS proved daunting.

Before Let’s Encrypt, the growth rate for HTTPS page loads merely puttered along. As recently as 2013, just 25% of websites used HTTPS. In order for the Internet to reach its full potential, this glaring risk to peoples’ security and privacy needed to be mitigated.

Let’s Encrypt changed the paradigm. Today 81% of website page loads use HTTPS. That means that you and the other 4.9 billion people online can leverage the Internet for your own pursuits with a greater degree of security and privacy than ever before.

But TLS adoption was just one hurdle. Much can be done to further improve the Internet’s most critical pieces of technology to be more secure; much can be done to further improve the privacy of everyone using the Internet today.

Building our efforts thanks to transformational support

Ford Foundation’s commitment recognizes that the Internet can be a technological tool to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable world, but that it will take organizations like ISRG to help build it.

“Ford Foundation is one of the most respected grantmaking institutions in the world,” Josh Aas, ISRG Executive Director, said. “We are proud that Ford believes in the impact we’ve created and the potential of our efforts to continue benefiting everyone using the Internet.”

This support, which began in 2021, will help ISRG continue to invest in Let’s Encrypt and our other projects, Prossimo and Divvi Up.

Launched in late 2020, Prossimo intends to move the Internet's most critical security-sensitive software infrastructure to memory safe code. Society pays the price for these vulnerabilities with privacy violations, staggering financial losses, denial of public services (e.g., hospitals, power grids), and human rights violations. Meaningful effort will be required to bring about such change, but the Internet will be around for a long time. There is time for ambitious efforts to pay off.

Divvi Up is a system for privacy-preserving metrics analysis. With Divvi Up, organizations can analyze and share data to further their aims without sacrificing their users’ privacy. Divvi Up is currently used for COVID-19 Exposure Notification apps and has processed over 14 billion metrics to aid Public Health Authorities to better hone their app to be responsive to their local populations.

"ISRG's pragmatic, public-interest approach to Internet security has fundamentally changed the web at an astonishing scale and pace,” Michael Brennan of the Ford Foundation said. "I believe their new projects have the same potential and I am eager to see what they turn their sights to next."

We’re grateful to Ford for their support of our efforts, and to all of you who have contributed time and resources to our projects. For more information on ISRG and our projects, take a read through our 2021 Annual Report. 100% of ISRG’s funding comes from contributed sources. If you or your organization are interested in helping advance our mission, consider becoming a sponsor, making a one-time contribution, or reaching out with your idea on how you can help financially support our mission at sponsor@abetterinternet.org.