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.

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press release | June 30, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

OTI Urges Close Scrutiny of Harmful Data Cap Practices

New Report Highlights Consumer Harms Stemming from Data Caps Practices

Today, New America’s Open Technology Institute is releasing a new report examining the use of data caps on wired and mobile broadband service in the United States. The report analyzes the financial incentives that major Internet service providers have to implement these usage limits and research that demonstrates the behavioral effect of these policies on consumers.

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policy paper | June 30, 2015 | Open Technology Institute
Artificial Scarcity

Artificial Scarcity

How Data Caps Harm Consumers and Innovation

In this paper, we examine the growth and impact of usage-based pricing and data caps on wired and mobile broadband services in the United States. We analyze the financial incentive that Internet service providers (ISPs) have to implement these usage limits and discuss research that demonstrates how these policies affect consumer behavior. In particular, we explain how data caps can make it harder for consumers to make informed choices; decrease the adoption and use of existing and new online services; and undermine online security. It is also increasingly clear that data caps have a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority populations as well as groups like telecommuters and students. In the conclusion, we urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), particularly as the new Open Internet Order goes into effect, to open up a serious inquiry into whether data caps are an acceptable business practice.

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in the news | June 29, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Securing the Internet Commons

Decoupling sovereignty from territory is hard to do, particularly after Snowden showed the world just how far one country’s technological tentacles can reach. Still, the larger lesson is that differentiating between national security and global security in the digital world may be both impossible and deeply counter-productive. We need new maps and mindsets and new coalitions of business, civic activists, and all those who understand that national security must include the protection of privacy and freedom of expression. And we need new ways to engage both governments and citizens in a new, exhilarating, dangerous, and still largely unexplored world.

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press release | June 25, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

(RE)Building Technology

A Field Guide to Organizing around Digital Justice Issues (v.1)

As part of our continued partnership with community organizers working on digital justice issues and building community-controlled communications infrastructure, the Open Technology Institute and the Detroit Community Technology Project published a collection of tools, stories and practices at the Community Technology Network Gathering convened as part of the 17th annual ...

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press release | June 24, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

New America Collaborates with Community Orgs to Examine Privacy and Poverty in the United States

Washington, DC — New America, a team of interdisciplinary researchers, and three community organizations have been announced as the winners of the largest of five grants announced today by the Digital Trust Foundation. The award of more than $700,000 will fund a study that examines the perspectives poor and working class adults in the United States hold about privacy and "data rights.”

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

The Lessons of the Crypto Wars

The right to strong encryption almost became law in the 1990s. Here's what happened.

If recent tech policy debates are any indication, the old axiom is true: History really does repeat itself sometimes.

Earlier this month the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of an appropriations amendment to defund any government attempts to require encryption backdoors. Privacy advocates hailed it as an indication ...

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

The Empire Strikes Back With CISA

The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute recently put out a coalition letter on CISA concluding that its “overbroad monitoring, information sharing, and use authorizations effectively increase cyber-surveillance” and simultaneously undermine the cybersecurity objectives contained therein.

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article | June 22, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

"riding the wave"

A Step Toward Bridging the Tech Policy Divide

David Tannenwald Hollie Russon-Gilman

Technology is among the most important forces shaping public policy, yet it remains to be seen to whether it will do more harm than good. In some ways, the intersection of information technology and public policy is brimming with opportunity; more than ever before, municipal governments are leveraging technology and ...

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policy paper | June 22, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

More Inclusive governance in the Digital Age

A new policy paper as part of Harvard's Data-Smart Solutions

As part of Harvard's Data-Smart Solutions initiative I recently authored a policy paper reflecting months of research undertaken at the Open Technology Institute to assess the new opportunities and challenges for inclusive governance in the era of digital tools.  This paper examines a wide set of examples from opportunities ...

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policy paper | June 22, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

Riding the wave

How the Moulton Campaign Leveraged Digital and Social Media to Win in 2014

David Tannenwald Hollie Russon-Gilman

In March 2014, Seth Moulton, then a congressional candidate in Massachusetts’ sixth district, convened his staff for one of the most important meetings of his campaign to date. Eight months earlier, Moulton had announced that he would run against Representative John Tierney in the Democratic primary; but with limited funds, he and his team—which then consisted of a handful of paid staff-members and consultants—had only recently done an in-depth poll. Now they had gathered to receive the results of a benchmark analysis performed by the Mellman Group, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm. The picture was grim: Tierney enjoyed a 75% favorability rating; what’s more, the nine-term incumbent led Moulton, then a 35-year old Iraq War veteran with no political experience, by more than fifty percentage points.

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press release | June 18, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

With Encryption Once Again under threat, OTI explores history of the crypto wars

In the past year, a conflict has erupted between technology companies and privacy advocates who support the right to use strong encryption and members of the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities that believe any encrypted services or products should have built-in backdoors to allow for lawfully authorized surveillance. Reminiscent of the “Crypto Wars” of the 1990s, this debate has rekindled an alliance between industry groups, privacy advocates, and security experts from across the political spectrum in opposition to any government attempts to weaken encryption or insert new vulnerabilities into secure hardware and software. Today OTI is releasing a new report, “Doomed to Repeat History? Lessons from the Crypto Wars of the 1990s,” that tells the story of the original Crypto Wars and draws out lessons that can be applied to today’s debates surrounding encryption.

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policy paper | June 17, 2015 | Open Technology Institute
DOOMED TO REPEAT HISTORY? LESSONS FROM THE CRYPTO WARS OF THE 1990s

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

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.

Recent Content

press release | June 17, 2015 | Open Technology Institute

House Panel Rejects Effort to Defend Net Neutrality

OTI Urges Congress to Amend Spending Bill

Today the House Appropriations Committee rejected a measure to fully fund the recently enacted Open Internet Order, a move that jeopardizes net neutrality and the FCC’s hard-fought efforts to protect consumers. Last week, Republicans introduced a spending bill that prohibits the FCC from implementing the Open Internet Order. The panel today rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) that would have removed the prohibition. New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI)strongly opposes this legislation and joined dozens of groups and companies in a letter that urged the committee to adopt changes. The White House also opposes the bill, calling the anti-net neutrality language “highly problematic” and “ideological” in a letter released yesterday.

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

Net Neutrality in Effect, Legal Challenge Fast-Tracked

That same morning, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services approved a bill rebuked by net neutrality advocates, such as Joshua Stager, Policy Counsel for New America’s Open Technology Institute.“We are disappointed by today’s vote and urge the full House Appropriations Committee to fix this legislation at the next markup,“ said Stager in a statement.

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