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.

DOOMED TO REPEAT HISTORY? LESSONS FROM THE CRYPTO WARS OF THE 1990s

Open Technology Institute

In the past year, a conflict has erupted between technology companies, privacy advocates, and members of the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities over the right to use and distribute products that contain strong encryption technology. This debate between government actors seeking ways to preserve access to encrypted communications and a coalition of pro-encryption groups is reminiscent of an old battle that played out in the 1990s: a period that has come to be known as the “Crypto Wars.” This paper tells the story of the that debate and the lessons that are relevant to today.

Upcoming Events

#LegalHack Open Educational Resources

EVENT August 05, 2015 06:00 PM– 08:00 PM

Wednesday August 05, 2015

06:00 PM – 08:00 PM


[u'1899 L Street NW', u'Suite 400', u'Washington, DC 20036']

If the federal government pays for educational resources to be developed, should those resources belong in the public commons? Join New America for a conversation about how we should be thinking about the ownership of publicly funded educational materials.

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press release | July 27, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Massive Coalition of Security Experts, Companies, and Civil Society Groups Urge Obama to Veto CISA

Today, a group of 68 security experts, tech companies, and civil society organizations sent a letter urging President Obama to threaten to veto the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA, S. 754). CISA raises many of the same concerns that were the basis of the Administration’s two veto threats over a previous information sharing bill titled CISPA.

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

New Report on Bandwidth Caps from Open Technology Institute

The Open Technology Institute (OTI) at the New America Foundation recently released its report on bandwidth caps. "Artificial Scarcity: How Data Caps Harm Consumers and Innovation" is the latest warning about an issue with grave implications. The PDF is now available to download.

Last November, the Government Accounting Office (GAO ...

press release | July 23, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

OTI Urges Senate to Remove Anti-Consumer, Anti-Innovation Rider from Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved a spending bill that jeopardizes net neutrality and the FCC’s hard-fought efforts to protect consumers. The bill includes a “rider” that would prohibit the FCC from fully implementing the recently-enacted Open Internet Order. The committee rejected an amendment by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) to remove the rider from the bill. The White House described a similar rider in a House bill as “highly problematic” and “ideological.”

press release | July 22, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

AT&T/DirecTV Conditions are a Step Forward, But Consumers Remain Vulnerable

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission circulated a proposal yesterday to approve AT&T’s proposed merger with DirecTV, contingent on several conditions designed to protect competition in the broadband and pay-TV markets. The conditions include requirements that AT&T be more transparent about how it exchanges traffic to and from its network (a process known as “interconnection”), offer a discounted broadband plan to qualifying low-income households, and not use data caps to disfavor online video competitors. The Open Technology Institute repeatedly urged the FCC to impose conditions on this transaction.

press release | July 22, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Senate Panel Advances Bill that Threatens Net Neutrality

OTI Urges Senate to Amend Spending Bill

New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) today urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to remove language from a spending bill that would weaken the Federal Communications Commission’s recently-enacted net neutrality rules. The legislation, approved today by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services, includes a “rider” that would prevent the FCC from fully implementing the rules. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to vote on the legislation tomorrow morning.

book | July 22, 2015 | Open Technology Institute
Book: DRONES AND AERIAL OBSERVATION Book: DRONES AND AERIAL OBSERVATION cover image

Book: DRONES AND AERIAL OBSERVATION

NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT:A PRIMER

Most people lack clear and secure rights to property—land, natural resources, and other goods and assets. That lack is in part a consequence of political and social breakdowns, and in part driven by informational deficits. Such property rights are crucial to human prosperity. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known ...

press release | July 21, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Oti, Coalition of Human Rights and Technology Organizations Offer Recommendations on Export Controls for Surveillance Technology

Yesterday, OTI, along with Access, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and independent researcher Collin Anderson, filed comments with the Commerce Department on a proposed rule that would govern export controls for surveillance technology.

article | July 21, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Six (More) Technical Reasons Why Undermining Encryption is a Bad Idea

Two weeks ago some of the biggest names in cryptography published a paper on the threats posed by intentionally weakened encryption. Titled “Keys Under Doormats: Mandating insecurity by requiring government access to all data and communications,” these experts strongly agreed that legislators must reject any proposal to turn back the clock to the encryption control proposals that were at the center of the 90s Crypto Wars. The report was widely covered in the media, (including a front page story in the New York Times) but, the press missed one of the most interesting aspects of the paper: the complex technical aspects of why intentionally inserting vulnerabilities/weaknesses in encryption is a terrible idea.

article | July 13, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Unlisted Information

OTI COMMENTS TO ICANN ON THE PRESERVATION OF ANONYMIZED DOMAIN REGISTRAR CONTACT INFORMATION

Liz Woolery Matt Baker

Remember when phone books and the Yellow Pages were relevant and more than just heavy reams of paper moved from the front steps straight to the recycling bin? Although phone books are a remnant of the pre-Google era, the phonebook model has thrived online as the WHOIS Database. The WHOIS Database, operated by ICANN lists contact information for Internet domain owners. However, just as some people preferred an unlisted phone number, some registrants prefer to shield their contact information when they purchase a domain name. This desire for privacy led to the creation and use of privacy/proxy service providers, which allow customers to populate the WHOIS database with the provider’s contact information rather than their own. Now ICANN is considering changes to how those privacy/proxy services are accredited and used.

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

Technology for Democracy in Development: Lessons from Seven Case Studies

Claims regarding the positive and negative effects of information and communication technology (ICT) on democratic deliberation and development are overblown in both developing and developed countries (Rheingold 2002; Shirky 2008; Noveck 2009; Global Voices 2010; O’Reilly 2010; Morozov 2011; Sifry 2011). The deployment of various ICT projects to enhance governmental accountability, political participation, and public deliberation is at an early stage. It is therefore too early to identify patterns or principles with confidence. Instead, this chapter reviews several efforts to use ICT platforms to improve accountability and democratic engagement and draws lessons about the interaction between technology and politics.

in the news | July 09, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Jeeves, How Did the Crypto Wars of the 1990s Shape Modern Tech Policy Organizing Efforts?

Advocates back then developed strategies that still help guide today's digital activists

In recent years, pro-consumer victories on issues like copyright and net neutrality have largely been attributed to a new wave of digital activism. But in the rush to characterize this new phenomenon, some commentators seem to have forgotten that key elements of the strategies employed in these campaigns  were actually born during the so-called “Crypto Wars” of the 1990s.

article | July 07, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Spectrum Auctions and Smartphones

How the FCC's Rules on TV Channel Auctions Will Impact Wi-Fi Coverage and What You Pay for Mobile Broadband

Next week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make two tough decisions on the rules for next year’s auction of TV spectrum likely to have a huge impact on the affordability of wireless broadband and the future of Wi-Fi. In short, the FCC is deciding how many wireless operators will have the spectrum they need to compete in a broadband data world and also whether Wi-Fi users will have access to these prime frequencies.

press release | July 07, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Broadcasters and Unlicensed Advocates File Letter Opposing FCC Incentive Auction Plan

Today a diverse coalition of broadcasters and unlicensed spectrum advocates filed a joint letter opposing a FCC staff proposal aimed at reversing the Commission’s decision in last year’s TV band Incentive Auction Report & Order to dedicate the “duplex gap” (guard band) after the auction for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed innovation in every market nationwide, as well as for licensed broadcast news microphones.