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.

In Historic Victory for Consumers, FCC Votes To Protect Open Internet

Open Technology Institute

Today the Federal Communications Commission approved an historic order that protects network neutrality with strong rules based on sound legal authority. The order would place new rules on broadband access services, prevent blocking and paid prioritization, grant greater oversight over interconnection agreements, reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, and implement bright line rules that protect both wired and wireless Internet.

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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.

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press release | March 25, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

As Data Breach Legislation Advances in House, Subcommittee Votes Against Strengthening Protections for Consumers

Washington, DC - Today the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee marked up the draft Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 and voted to advance the bill to the full committee. That bill, as OTI has described in testimony before the House last week and elsewhere, would, contrary to its name, eliminate key protections for sensitive information under existing state law and the Communications Act.

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in the news | March 25, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Net neutrality hearing examines a false choice on antitrust

Net neutrality is a pro-competition ideal, but competition alone cannot fully protect the values of Internet openness and freedom. A net neutrality regime that relies solely on antitrust analysis would be narrowly focused on pricing harms, such as those found in cartels and monopolies. Such a legal theory may prevent some paid prioritization schemes, but it cannot address the non-economic goals of net neutrality such as free speech, political participation and viewpoint diversity

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press release | March 25, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

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

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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in the news | March 24, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Telcordia’s Neutrality at Center of LNPA Deliberations

Commissioners’ aides appear to be particularly concerned, and are still working through, how to handle concerns raised about Telcordia’s ability to handle LNPA duties neutrally, given Ericsson’s ties with major carriers, said Michael Calabrese, director of the New America Foundation’s Wireless Future Project . Calabrese said he told commission officials that a voting trust, even with additional measures pro­posed by NAF, still wouldn’t deal with concerns about the impact on smaller carriers and other issues. NAF suggested the commission appoint an independent LNPA transition overseer to certify that transition costs for small- and mid-sized carriers are reasonable, and that the carriers are receiving the same services as now and of the same quality, Calabrese said.

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press release | March 24, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

House Intelligence Committee Cybersecurity Information Sharing Bill, Like CISA, Authorizes Cyber-Surveillance

Washington, DC - This afternoon, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence introduced its cybersecurity information sharing bill called the “Protecting Cyber Networks Act.” Like, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), its counterpart from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act fails to protect privacy, could undermine Internet security, and would do more to increase cyber-surveillance than to enhance cybersecurity.

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in the news | March 23, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

What you don’t know about Internet algorithms is hurting you. (And you probably don’t know very much!)

All the fomenting drama and discussion has sparked a new field of academic research called “algorithm auditing”: probing Internet algorithms from the outside, in order to figure out how they tick and what may be wrong with them. A manifesto on the algorithm audit, published by the Open Technology Institute last October, envisioned an Internet where platforms would come with warnings about their algorithms and whom those algorithms serve.

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in the news | March 20, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Make Hackers’ Jobs Harder

Scatter the pieces of your personal data so bad actors can’t assemble the puzzle.

Embracing insecurity may seem like a terrifying prospect. But once we have come to terms with our collective vulnerability, we can begin to devise strategies to shield ourselves against the next (inevitable) wave of digital attacks—and perhaps finally break the historical pattern of everyone being caught by surprise by each new breach and having to resort to resetting thousands of passwords, closing accounts, and the other costly forms of damage control that have historically followed major breaches. Although much remains to be done, there are plenty of options for making our personal information harder to exploit that are readily available right now—and few reasons not to use them.

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in the news | March 17, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Keeping the data trackers honest

Meinrath is director of X-Lab, a nonprofit that “anticipates the disruptions and dystopian outcomes of tech policy decisions and aims to help humanity change course.” He’s telling this story here at SXSW, the annual tech confab, whose attendees view large-scale, opaque data collection and surveillance as evil when practiced by government — but a totally legitimate business model when practiced by private companies. This audience is not terribly sympathetic to regulatory proposals to curb online data collection and behavioral targeting, or, as with the European Union’s “right to be forgotten,” allow users to expunge their online records altogether.

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policy paper | March 16, 2015 | Open Technology Institute
Building Broadband Commons

Building Broadband Commons

Tools for Planners and Communities

While the academic and institutional field of urban design and planning has traditionally not included planning for broadband systems, it is increasingly clear that broadband is an essential service, and that urbanists, governments, organizers, and residents all have roles in ensuring that everyone has reliable access.

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in the news | March 16, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

The Growing Need for Technical and Digital Literacy

Seeta Peña Gangadharan has spent the past three years researching computer literacy as a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. "I hear story after story about students from librarians, or from students themselves, saying, 'I don't understand why my email account has like 500 junk emails,' " she said. "They have no idea how to get off these lists."

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in the news | March 13, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Canada doesn’t need a US-style surveillance state

The problem of terrorism deserves attention. But there is little evidence that drastic expansion of police and spying powers would make Canada more secure. After the Snowden leaks in 2013, a New America Foundation study found that bulk collection of metadata contributed to just four of the 225 post-9/11 terrorism cases that ended in arrest or conviction. The study concludes that the U.S. government’s claim that such surveillance is necessary is “overblown and even misleading.”

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in the news | March 12, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Delay in Release of Net Neutrality Order Only Adds to Uncertainty, AT&T CFO Says

Michael Calabrese, director of New America’s Wireless Future Project, said the comments are nothing new from AT&T. “AT&T and Verizon would do better to explain why they paid over $28 billion for more spectrum just weeks ago if they truly believe Title II with extensive forbearance is such a drag on future business prospects,” Calabrese said. AT&T and Verizon were the biggest and third biggest bidders, respectively, in the AWS-3 auction (see 1501300051).

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in the news | March 12, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

CISA CYBERSECURITY BILL ADVANCES DESPITE PRIVACY CONCERNS

It also allows the sharing of private sector data with the government that could prevent “terrorism” or an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.” That language, Open Technology Institute privacy counsel Robyn Greene has argued, means CISA might “facilitate investigations into garden-variety violent crimes that have nothing to do with cyber threats.” “If that weren’t worrisome enough, the bill would also let law enforcement and other government agencies use information it receives to investigate, without a requirement for imminence or any connection to computer crime, even more crimes like carjacking, robbery, possession or use of firearms, ID fraud, and espionage,” Greene wrote in February. “While some of these are terrible crimes, and law enforcement should take reasonable steps to investigate them, they should not do so with information that was shared under the guise of enhancing cybersecurity.”

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press release | March 12, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Senate Intelligence Committee Approves Controversial Cybersecurity Bill Behind Closed Doors

Today, in a closed-door meeting, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the controversial Cyber Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) with a vote of 14 to 1. That legislation would broadly authorize companies to share more information about possible cybersecurity threats with the government and other companies.

However, a ...

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in the news | March 12, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Senate panel approves controversial cybersecurity bill

"We are glad that the Senate Intelligence Committee heard the privacy community's concerns, and we're eager to see if the changes to the bill will adequately address the significant threats to privacy and Internet security that CISA has raised," Robyn Greene, policy counsel with New America's Open Technology Institute, said in a statement Thursday. Based on how dangerously broad and vague the last version of the bill was, it would be surprising if the bill agreed to in secret today will garner the support of the privacy community."

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