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Funding & Support Policies

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society was founded in 1997 with a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman. The Berkman family continues its steadfast support with annual contributions toward the Center’s operations. In July of 2016, the Center became the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, in recognition of a significant gift from Michael R. Klein that not only provides vital core support but also allows the Center to launch new initiatives.

In addition to these major gifts, the Berkman Klein Center has received additional financial support over the years, mostly grants from foundations, but also contributions from corporations, private donors, international organizations, government entities, and court-awarded settlements in class-action cases.

While foundation grants typically support specific research efforts, all individual and corporate donors agree to contribute their funds as gifts rather than grants, for which there are no promised products, results, or deliverables. While the Center has in the past accepted corporate gift support for a small number of projects, not comprising more than 10% of the Center’s annual budget – with donors listed here – the Center currently does not have any corporate funding.

The court-awarded settlements are used to advance the Center’s research and education efforts into online privacy, consistent with the spirit of the litigation. The Berkman Klein Center and its respective scholars retain full discretion on the design and implementation of, and specific expenditures to support, all its academic activities enabled by such gifts and court awards. 

Detailed below is a list of gifts and other funding sources (ranked alphabetically) followed by a list of class-action settlements that are currently funding activities of the Center. In addition to those listed by name, we occasionally accept donations from individuals who wish to remain anonymous.

Information on past sources of funding is available here.

GRANTS AND GIFTS

Arcadia Fund: grant in support of the Lumen project (formerly known as “Chilling Effects”), which collects and studies online content removal requests, providing transparency and supporting analysis of the Web’s takedown “ecology,” in terms of who sends requests, why, and to what ends. Through August 2022.

The Berkman Family: annual gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

Craig Newmark Philanthropies: grant to the Center’s suite of cybersecurity research initiative to study governmental approaches to disinformation in order to identify concrete steps to clarify roles and boundaries, to improve effectiveness, and to rebuild legitimacy and public support for cross-sectorial
cybersecurity policies and practices around disinformation and information warfare, through March 2020.

Ford Foundation: Internet Freedom program: grant to carry out empirical research on the means and mechanisms of media manipulation in digital media systems using the Media Cloud platform, and to support Center efforts to support historically underrepresented populations in our Fellows program, through August 2019.

John I. Forry and Engie Lee Forry: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

Miami Foundation: grant to the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab, as anchor institutions of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, to conduct evidence-based research to provide guidance to decision-makers in the private and public sectors, and to engage in impact-oriented pilot projects to bolster the use of AI for the public good, while also building an institutional knowledge base on the ethics and governance of AI, fostering human capacity, and strengthening interfaces with industry and policy-makers, through December 2019.

Michael R. Klein: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

National Foreign Trade Council: grant in support of the Global Access in Action project, which conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations, through February 2020.

Research Council of Norway: sub-award through the BI Norwegian Business School, to support research into youth and labor in a digitized economy as part of our Youth and Media suite of projects, through October 2019.

Stella P. Holt Foundation: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

United States Bureau of the Census: sub-award through Georgetown University to support research to examine the interaction between legal standards for privacy protection and formal mathematical definitions of privacy in the context of the data analysis and publication activities of the US Bureau of the Census, through December 2020.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Cyber Initiative: grant to support the Berklett project’s cybersecurity clean-slate evaluation of the set of responsibilities related to foreign intelligence gathering, which has expanded to include the exploitation of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, through May 2020.

COURT-AWARDED SETTLEMENTS

The Berkman Klein Center has been the recipient of occasional court-awarded cy pres settlements. These are the results of class action litigation, in which the court decides to issue funds to research or advocacy organizations which conduct work that generally benefits the affected class. Such awards to the Berkman Klein Center have been the result of privacy-related litigation, and thus directed toward the Center’s longstanding suite of Privacy initiatives.

The Berkman Klein Center currently holds funds related to two recent awards, both received in May 2017. The Center received cy pres awards in connection to the litigation of Fraley v. Facebook (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division)  Nader v. Capital One Financial (U.S. District Court of the Central District of California).

In addition, such a settlement has been proposed in connection with the continuing legal case, In Re: Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation (U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware).