The Open Technology Institute strengthens communities through grounded research, technological innovation, and policy reform. We create reforms to support open source innovations and foster open technologies and communications networks. Partnering with communities, researchers, industry and public interest groups, we promote affordable, universal, and ubiquitous communications networks.

OTI Joins With Major Internet Companies and Privacy Advocates to Demand Surveillance Reform

Open Technology Institute

New America’s Open Technology Institute, on behalf of a broad coalition of Internet companies, trade associations, and advocates for privacy and human rights, today released an open letter pressing Congress to pass legislation that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ communications records.

The letter ...

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press release | April 17, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

FCC Votes to Create new Citizens Broadband Radio Service

New America's Michael Calabrese Available for Comment

This morning, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 5-0 to create a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). For the first time, the FCC has opened a lightly-used Federal government band, used primarily for Navy radar, for shared use by both licensed and unlicensed users. The FCC Report & Order represents the initial implementation of a proposal for widespread spectrum sharing of underused Federal bands made in July 2012 by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

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in the news | April 15, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

The Education Department Is Working On A Process For Forgiving Student Loans

The department is walking a fine line as it formalizes a process for student debt forgiveness, said Ben Miller, a senior education policy analyst at the New America Foundation. “You want to place reasonable demands on the borrower, but not go too far overboard,” Miller said. “You don’t want to trap them in a horrible web of red tape.”

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press release | April 15, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

As Data Breach Legislation Advances in House Along Party Lines, Committee Votes Against Strengthening Protections for Consumers

Washington, DC - Today the House Energy & Commerce Committee marked up HR 1770, the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015, and advanced the bill to the full House. Despite being touted as a bipartisan bill, votes to advance it out of committee were split along party lines, with even Rep. Welch (D-VT), the only Democrat who originally co-sponsored the bill, voting not to advance the bill. As OTI has explained, the bill would eliminate key protections for sensitive information under existing state law and the Communications Act.

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article | April 14, 2015 | Open Technology Institute
Resources for the Public on the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015

Resources for the Public on the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015

As a bill moves toward markup by the full House Energy & Commerce Committee on Wednesday, OTI offers its analysis of the bill.

This week, the Energy & Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives will be considering the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015. The Open Technology Institute was critical of an earlier draft of the bill, and in testimony delivered at a subcommittee hearing last month, OTI Senior Policy Counsel ...

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in the news | April 14, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

U.S. Tech Companies and Investors Look to Gain from Iran Deal

Peeling back sanctions on Iran would breathe life into Tehran's tech scene—and unlock a young, tech-savvy consumer base for Western tech companies.

For now, American tech companies that want to put their products in front of Iranians are held back by restrictions from both governments. On one side, the strict U.S. sanctions that prevent most companies from doing business in Iran have kept tech companies away from the country, despite special ...

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article | April 14, 2015 | Open Technology Institute
Comments to the U.S. CIO on Proposed HTTPS-Only Standard for Federal Websites

Comments to the U.S. CIO on Proposed HTTPS-Only Standard for Federal Websites

The CIO of the United States has proposed that all Federal government websites should support mandatory HTTPS encryption. The Open Technology Institute at New America wholeheartedly supports this proposal, which will significantly improve Americans’ privacy and security, and send a clear message that HTTPS protection should be considered a basic ...

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in the news | April 10, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

U.S.: Azano Is a Supervillain

WHO WE LET DEAL SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT

While the actual technology exported to Mexico has been redacted, the license lists the equipment involved as electronic surveillance designed for intelligence purposes. Technology classified this way is primarily for military or defense uses, said Robert Morgus, who researches surveillance exports with the nonpartisan think tank New America.

“This is ...

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article | April 09, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Cybersecurity…or Cyber-Surveillance?

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) Will Vastly Increase Government Access to Americans’ Data

Instead of prioritizing the surveillance reform that Americans have been demanding, the Senate is considering the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA, S. 754), a bill that would increase intelligence agencies access to our personal data.

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in the news | April 02, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Corrupting the Cyber-Commons: Social Media as a Tool of Autocratic Stability

Non-democratic regimes have increasingly moved beyond merely suppressing online discourse, and are shifting toward proactively subverting and co-opting social media for their own purposes. Namely, social media is increasingly being used to undermine the opposition, to shape the contours of public discussion, and to cheaply gather information about falsified public preferences. Social media is thus becoming not merely an obstacle to autocratic rule but another potential tool of regime durability. I lay out four mechanisms that link social media co-optation to autocratic resilience: 1) counter-mobilization, 2) discourse framing, 3) preference divulgence, and 4) elite coordination. I then detail the recent use of these tactics in mixed and autocratic regimes, with a particular focus on Russia, China, and the Middle East. This rapid evolution of government social media strategies has critical consequences for the future of electoral democracy and state-society relations.

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in the news | April 01, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

New Chinese Cyberattacks: What’s to Be Done?

Thanks to censorship—ironically, carried out by companies at the behest of the government – this frustration is largely invisible and therefore unable to develop traction. As the citizen media community Global Voices recently reported, news and critical discussion of these recent cyber-attacks made against US-based platforms via Chinese organizations is being censored from Chinese microblogs and other Internet platforms.

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in the news | March 27, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Congress moves quickly on cyberthreat information sharing

The House bill "is a cyber surveillance bill at least as much as it is a cybersecurity bill, and it is written so broadly that it could wind up making the Internet less safe," Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute [OTI], said by email. The PCNA requires government agencies to "automatically and indiscriminately" share information they receive with military and intelligence agencies, OTI said in a critique of the bill. The bill would allow other agencies to pass cyber threat information to the FBI and the National Security Agency, where "it could be used in investigations that have absolutely nothing to do with cybersecurity," Greene said.

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press release | March 26, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

House Intelligence Committee Approves Privacy-Threatening Cybersecurity Information Sharing Bill

Washington, DC - This morning, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence unanimously approved its cybersecurity information sharing bill called the “Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA).” The Committee failed to make significant changes that were necessary to better protect Americans’ privacy, and to ensure that the broad info-sharing authorized under the bill would not become a backdoor for government surveillance. The Committee somewhat narrowed the bill’s broad authorization for private actors to deploy defensive countermeasures against computer intruders, but that provision is still broad enough that the measures it would authorize could actually undermine Internet security rather than enhance it. The bill also strengthened the requirement to remove personal information, though it would still allow companies to share some unnecessary personal information with the government, which could then use all personal information it receives for a myriad of criminal investigations that have nothing to do with cybersecurity.

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in the news | March 26, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

FCC Votes "Yes" on Net Neutrality

Throttling became a hot-button issue after widespread claims that cable companies had deliberately slowed to a crawl streaming video from third-party services such as Netflix. Cable companies denied they deliberately throttled the video traffic, and a study [PDF] by Measurement Lab found the choke points were at interconnections between local broadband services and long-distance traffic routes. But users remained worried that broadband providers could throttle traffic if they wanted to.