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.

Community Technology Retrospective: 2015 Seed Grants

Open Technology Institute

At the end of 2014, the Open Technology Institute and the Detroit Community Technology Project initiated the Community Technology Partnership and began awarding SEED grants to civil society organizations in different parts of the world. We awarded eleven grants over the past year. We started from the understanding that sustainability is not achieved through financial transfers, but rather through the process of relationship and capacity building. We use the word seed to acknowledge that one year is a short period of time for a seed to flourish and grow; it needs care and infrastructure that lasts well beyond the initial funding period of these projects.

Upcoming Events

THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE

EVENT February 16, 2016 06:30 PM– 08:15 PM

Tuesday February 16, 2016

06:30 PM – 08:15 PM


[u'156 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor', u'New York, NY 10010']

Within 20 years, we’ll see robot suits that allow paraplegics to walk and new drugs able to melt away most cancers. Those are some of the predictions made by Alec Ross in his new book, The Industries of the Future.

More about the event
press release | February 09, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

OTI REleases Toolkit to Assess Impact of Digital Inclusion Efforts

OTI partnered with EveryoneOn, a digital inclusion organization, to analyze and curate data on digital inclusion

Today, the Open Technology Institute at New America released OTI and EveryoneOn: Working Together to Evaluate the Impact of Broadband Inclusion Efforts, a toolkit to help organizations engaged in digital inclusion efforts assess the impact of their broadband adoption and access programs. At least a quarter of American households do not have access to Internet service at home, and the level of income-based inequality in access continues to grow.

policy paper | February 09, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

OTI and EveryoneOn: Working Together to Evaluate the IMpact of Broadband Inclusion Efforts

This toolkit is designed to provide a resource for any organization offering digital services, and is intended to ensure that digital inclusion program activities remain relevant as the digital access framework shifts As broadband connectivity increasingly shapes access to opportunity as well as basic services, we hope that these tools will help organizations dedicated to increasing digital equity document and leverage their work for the best possible outcomes and to share learnings with their peers, experts, and policymakers.

article | February 05, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

OTI Condemns Plan to Let U.K. Government Use American Companies for Internet Wiretapping

Yesterday, the Washington Post broke the story on secret negotiations between the United States and the United Kingdom on an agreement that would allow the U.K. government to directly request that American Internet companies hand over data and wiretap U.K. customers whose communications are stored in or transmitted through facilities in the U.S.

article | February 01, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

Privacy vs. Connectivity: A False Choice

If you had a choice between someone constantly watching your Internet activity–what sites you visit, who you email, and on what devices–or not accessing the Internet at all, what would you choose? Chances are you would opt for the former. This choice between privacy and connectivity is a false one—and, if forced, one that could significantly harm consumers.

in the news | January 28, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

Who's messing with your Internet rights? And who'd tell you if they did?

In the midst of all this, Internet rights advocates, are calling for more transparency and accountability from governments around the world, and also from private companies.One such advocate is Rebecca MacKinnon, the director of the Ranking Digital Rights Project at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. She says her interest in the cross-section of the Internet and human rights began when she was a China correspondent for CNN in the 1990s.Rebecca MacKinnon, director of New America Foundation's "Ranking Digital Rights" projectRebecca MacKinnon, director of New America Foundation's "Ranking Digital Rights" project Credit: New America Foundation“I was in China when the Internet showed up in ’95, so I began to see how it was affecting discourse, how people were using it, and from the get-go, the government’s efforts to control this. And so, I became fascinated in the topic, and the set of issues as a result,” she says. “So that has definitely colored this whole thing, that I’ve been following the global emergence of the Internet ... and thinking about its impact as it relates to governments, power and human rights.”Rebecca left journalism a dozen years ago and started working full-time on Internet rights and access around the world. She co-founded the website Global Voices, which brings together translations of bloggers from around the world. She wrote a book called “Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom.”Consent of the Networked, book on internet rights by Rebecca MacKinnonConsent of the Networked, a book on internet rights by Rebecca MacKinnon, looks at the challenges of protecting the rights of users and keeping the internet open. Credit: Rebecca MacKinnonAnd now, heading the Ranking Digital Rights Project, Rebecca oversees studies to rank Internet and telecommunications companies on how well they’re respecting their users’ digital rights, protecting their privacy and freedom of speech, and telling them when governments or third parties ask for data, or for certain postings or even accounts to be deleted. The project’s November 2015 report ranks 16 companies, in different countries, on 30 different measures.“The highest grade was a D, and that was Google,” Rebecca says. “So there’s a lot of room for improvement, all around.”Among the others ranked were Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, Vodafone in the UK and Orange in France. China’s Tencent, and Russia’s mail.ru ranked at the bottom. Some companies did better on some measures than others. No US companies did particularly well on grievance mechanisms, offering redress when users feel their rights have been unfairly infringed upon, but an Indian and a Korean company did. Google did well on reporting what governments are asking them to share, or take down, or block. Yahoo did relatively well on doing human rights impact assessments — thinking about what the impact might be on users’ rights if they take certain actions — this, a lesson learned after landing a Chinese journalist in jail a decade ago, after turning over his data to the Chinese government. “Yahoo learned from its mistakes, got together with other companies and made a bunch of commitments,” Rebecca says. “And these are commitments for which there are guidelines. There’s a whole organization built around helping companies put these practices into place, so they don’t just stumble into being complicit with human rights abuses without having thought things through."That organization is called the Global Network Initiative, which Rebecca helped start. It brings together companies, human rights advocates, academics, for conversations, both public and private, around the issue of digital rights. It also evaluates how companies are doing."It’s a pass-fail, so that’s one reason why I wanted to do the ranking,” Rebecca says. "It’s more than a pass-fail. It’s a real grade.”And a real grade, and a ranking against other companies, can make companies feel a little competitive with each other, prompting them to take steps to look relatively more attractive to potential users.“There are some companies that want to have conversations with us about why they scored in such and such a way, and want more details around our recommendations, so that’s really, I think, good,” Rebecca says. “We wanted to do the index, because we wanted to show companies whose polices aren’t very good, that some people over there are doing something you say you can’t do.”

in the news | January 28, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

Ben Carson's Cybersecurity Plan Is Terrible. But At Least He Has One.

It’s old news by now that Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson—despite his medical degree—has a tenuous relationship with science. So I didn’t exactly have great expectations for his campaign’s cybersecurity plan, modestly titled “Prescription for Winning the 21st Century Cyberspace Race.” To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a dedicated cybersecurity plan at all, much less an op-ed dedicated to the topic by Carson in Re/code this week.The op-ed makes several not-very-interesting, not-very-original points: that our society is very dependent on computers, that a hypothetical large-scale attack on the power grid would be devastating, that cybersecurity breaches can have very high costs. (And also that no one has any idea what those costs really are—Carson cites the cost of identity theft as being “anywhere from $25 billion to $50 billion annually.” There are also, of course, identity theft cost estimates out there in the $5 billion and $10 billion range. Take your pick.)

press release | January 27, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

OTI Applauds FCC Action on Set Top Boxes

$20 Billion Device Market Lacks Competition and Innovation

WASHINGTON D.C.— Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated a proposal to bring choice and innovation to the market for set-top boxes. Ninety-nine percent of pay-TV subscribers rent a set-top box from their cable provider for lack of any meaningful alternative, costing consumers an average of $231 per year and generating an estimated $20 billion in annual revenue for the cable industry. The FCC plans to vote on the proposal on February 18.

article | January 27, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

OTI Joins 25 Civil Society Groups to Urge Judiciary Committee to Hold Open Surveillance Oversight Hearings

Today, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) joined a coalition of 26 civil society organizations to protest the House Judiciary Committee’s February 2 classified hearing on Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The hearing is meant to fulfill the promise that Chairman Goodlatte made during the House Judiciary Committee’s consideration of the USA FREEDOM Act - the bill that ended bulk collection of Americans’ personal records under Patriot Act Section 215 as well as several other similar authorities. Committee members threatened to undermine the progress of the reform legislation because of unaddressed privacy concerns raised by bulk collection under Section 702., Chairman Goodlatte quieted the dissent and ensured approval of the USA FREEDOM Act by assuring members that they would have the opportunity to air their concerns.

policy paper | January 26, 2016 | Open Technology Institute
Community Technology Retrospective: 2015 Seed Grants

Community Technology Retrospective: 2015 Seed Grants

Andy Gunn Diana Nucera Ryan Gerety

At the end of 2014, the Open Technology Institute and the Detroit Community Technology Project initiated the Community Technology Partnership and began awarding SEED grants to civil society organizations in different parts of the world. We awarded eleven grants over the past year. We started from the understanding that sustainability is not achieved through financial transfers, but rather through the process of relationship and capacity building. We use the word seed to acknowledge that one year is a short period of time for a seed to flourish and grow; it needs care and infrastructure that lasts well beyond the initial funding period of these projects.

in the news | January 25, 2016 | Open Technology Institute

New America calls for FCC to adopt Qualcomm proposal on 5.9 GHz band

Michael Calabrese: 

The technology policy arm of Washington think tank New America recommended splitting a portion of unlicensed spectrum between wireless applications and new automotive technology in a report it issued last week.

The report, authored by the organization's Wireless Future Project Director Michael A. Calabrese, covered possibilities for ...