Republicans are also worried. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wrote to Mr. Pack in a letter on Wednesday with five other senators expressing their “deep concern” about his staff cuts, saying the moves raised “serious questions about the future of the U.S. Agency for Global Media” under his leadership. Other Republican members of Congress said earlier that they were concerned about the Open Technology Fund.
One of the bedrock principles of the Open Technology Fund is to support open-source technology. Creating and funding tools that are open source means a worldwide collective of programmers can examine the products to ensure they are safe and secure for people in repressed societies to use, cybersecurity experts, say.
“Imagine a teenager in a country where being L.G.B.T.Q. is illegal, and they just want to have a normal social life,” said Isabela Bagueros, the executive director of the Tor Project, a nonprofit digital privacy group. “The internet enables that, and if you provide the security for them to do so, it is extremely important as a part of life.”
At the heart of lobbying efforts supporting the Falun, Gong developers are Michael J. Horowitz, a Reagan administration budget official, and Katrina Lantos Swett, the daughter of the former congressman Tom Lantos, Democrat of California and a noted champion for human rights.
During the time Mr. Pack assumed his role, they have worked to advance their agenda.
On June 13, three days after Mr. Pack took office, Mr. Horowitz was a guest on a talk show hosted by Mr. Bannon, who was formerly Mr. Trump’s chief strategist. Mr. Horowitz denounced Ms. Liu, who was the chief executive of the technology fund. Ms. Liu happened to be tendering her resignation to the board that day, effective in July. Mr. Pack fired her on June 17 and dismissed the board.
Ms. Swett has been vocal about her displeasure with leadership at the fund because they have shied away from focusing most of the group’s funding toward programs like Ultrasurf. She claims it is one of the most effective tools to fight against China’s firewall, despite criticism from experts who warn that since Ultrasurf is a closed source, there is no way to independently verify its performance or assure end users that they are not being tracked.
“Open source versus closed source we don’t get hung up on those things,” Ms. Swett said.
Many internet freedom experts disagree with this approach.