In late 2012, the Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP) was established to provide rapid response to threats to internet freedom. The Partnership aims at keeping the internet open and free from emerging threats, specifically in internet repressive and transitional environments. It also wants to increase and better coordinate emergency support for the internet’s critical users, whenever and wherever they are under threat. The DDP will reach these objectives by providing grants to individuals and organizations, investing in applied research projects and by connecting different stakeholders.

DDP’s target group:

  1. Critical Internet Users
    Those include bloggers, cyber activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and other civil society activists specifically in internet repressive and transitional environments who experience digital threats. This includes individuals and organisations who work for those critical internet users.
  2. Digital Emergency Responders
    This could be organizations or individuals. They provide tools and support for emergency response or to help prevent/mitigate threats.

At this moment it is not possible anymore to apply for Capacity Building Grants. The call for proposals for Emergency grants – both incidental and sustainable, is open.

Digital First Aid Kit
If you think you are facing a digital emergency and you want to assess the problem, take first steps to mitigate the problem or seek help, check our Digital First Aid Kit. This guide combines advice for self-assessment with advice for “first responders” to help non-technical users all over the world to identify and respond to their digital emergencies. A pdf version can be downloaded here

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The Digital Defenders Partnership is a competitive grant making mechanism providing support to organisations and individuals working in the digital emergency field. The Partnership was established to provide rapid response to a range of threats to internet freedom: from supporting bloggers and cyber activists who find themselves under attack, to facilitating the deployment of emergency internet in countries where the internet is not free or not accessible.

The Digital Defenders Partnership has its origins in the Freedom Online Coalition, and is managed by Hivos, an international NGO based in the Netherlands. As an initial investment, the governments of the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Estonia, Republic of Latvia, Czech Republic and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) have dedicated financial support. The Partnership invests in organisations and individuals working on solutions to digital threats faced by journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. This can range from individual threats to national emergencies. Our aim is to stimulate a robust digital emergency sector which can respond to threats in a timely and comprehensive manner. The assessment and approval of potential grantees will be made by the DDP’s independent Investment Committee. Read more about our grant making process.

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An independent Investment Committee is responsible for assessing, rejecting and approving potential grantees. The Committee currently consists of four members who are installed for a period of two years. The Committee members meet at least four times per year. The current members of the Investment Committee are:

Anja Kovacs; is Project Director at the Internet Democracy Project in India which engages in research and advocacy on the promises and challenges that the internet poses for democracy and social justice in the developing

Amira Al Hussaini; Amira is a leading journalist, columnist, blogger and a free speech advocate. She is also the Middle East and North Africa Editor at Global Voices Online.

Claudio Guarnieri; is an independent security researcher specialized in tracking, dissecting and understanding malware and botnets. He co-authored several researches in the last year concerning commercial surveillance technologies, such as FinFisher, and their use in countries with critical human rights records.

Janet Haven; Associate Program Director at the Information Program of the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Janet oversees OSF’s efforts to support the use of new technologies and information strategies by civil society actors.

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The Digital Defenders Partnership supports projects which address digital emergency situations, regarding both network-related emergencies (internet and mobile) and user-related emergencies (bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders), in internet repressive and transitional environments.

Projects of individuals and organizations are eligible for support if they plan to work on directly mitigating digital emergencies or improving their digital security apparatus. Support may be direct support to replace equipment, secure hosting, VPN connections, providing personal legal protection, temporary support which is needed to mitigate a specific digital emergency situation, kick start the digital security or testing and research on a specific threat of internet critical users.

Potential grantees can apply for three types of grants; Emergency Grants (incidental), Emergency Grants (sustainable) and Capacity Building Grants. With our emergency grants we mitigate the consequences and damage of attacks, and enable critical internet users to continue their activities. With our capacity building grants we invest in capacity building of actors to be able to provide emergency response.

Scroll down to read more about the scope of the grants, our grant making process and eligibility criteria. If you want to know about future funding opportunities, please send an email to




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Incidental Emergency Grants 

To apply for an emergency grant, send an email to

For who?
Incidental Emergency grants are for rapid support to journalists, human rights defenders, NGOs, activists and bloggers who are facing an urgent digital emergency  because of their online activities.

What kind of projects?
The emergency grants can provide financial emergency assistance that can be used for mitigating digital threats or digital emergencies by way of:

– digital security audit for organizations
– equipment replacements
– secure hosting
– VPN connections
– safe internet connections
– finding legal representation
– payment of legal fees
– other types of urgently needed expenses

Scope of the grant
The incidental emergency grants:

  • Range from 1 – 10,000 Euro
  • Run for a maximum period of 4 months
  • Open to individuals and organizations under attack
  • Process time of proposal max. of 2 weeks

Note that projects are only eligible if there is a digital emergency situation. This type of grant will not support projects addressing digital security issues that are more structural in nature.

Emergency grant process
The grant making process for Emergency Grants consist of the following steps;

  1. Potential grantees can submit their proposal by sending an email to
  2. In your email, explain the following (don’t mention any sensitive info if your project is confidential):
    – name of the project
    – project goal
    – country it takes place in
    – duration of the project (max. 4 months)
    – grant budget requested + explanation
    – your name / you’re organization’s name
    – aim and scope of the activities you/your organization is doing
    – names + contact details of at least 2 references
  3. An initial assessment is made on the DDPs eligibility criteria
  4. The DDP secretariat will review and approve or reject the proposal

The DDP secretariat will inform the potential grantee of the outcome. For questions, email us at

You can also send us encrypted emails, find our PGP keys here: Sanne’s key, Wieke’s key, Frerieke’s key

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By email

ddp (at)

Twitter: @DigiDefenders

You can also send us encrypted emails, find our PGP keys here: Sanne’s key, Wieke’s key, Frerieke’s key

By snail mail

Attn. Digital Defenders Partnership
P.O. Box 85565
2508 CG Den Haag
the Netherlands

By phone

+31 (0)70 3765500