If last year taught us anything here at OTI, it’s this: there’s always a path forward.
2017 was a year that brought profound challenges to the principles of openness, security, and community that ground OTI’s work. The landmark net neutrality and broadband privacy rules that so many had fought so hard to win from the FCC under the last presidential administration were rolled back; the NSA’s dangerously expansive internet surveillance powers were renewed without meaningful reforms; and we all learned the dark side of internet openness when faced with the unavoidable fact that the internet—in addition to fostering positive new human connections on a massive scale—has also become a platform for virulent new forms of hate and misinformation that target our most vulnerable communities.
Yet it was also a year of new hopes and new ideas in new places. The public has never been more energized in the fights for net neutrality and online privacy, as the unprecedented number of comments filed in the net neutrality proceeding and the broad coverage of (and pushback against) the broadband privacy rollback demonstrated. The public debate over the power and responsibility of internet platforms has never been more active, nor important. And as federal policy has stalled or moved backwards, states and cities have joined in the fight to push forward—on net neutrality, on privacy, on reining in overreaching surveillance, and more.
These developments give us at OTI hope—and are impacting our strategic direction. More and more, we are needing to reach outside of the D.C. policy process—to the courts, to cities and communities across America, to the internet companies we both collaborate and clash with—to find a path forward to a more open and secure internet for all communities.
Because there is always a path forward—and always more work to be done. So enjoy this “Year in Review” summarizing some of the high points of 2017, and make sure to check out www.newamerica.org/oti and follow us on Twitter @oti to keep up with all the work we’re doing in 2018.