MIT Information Policy Project

The Internet is now the central nervous system of our global economy and essential infrastructure for communication, commerce, and civic discourse. Yet at this transformative moment, many important public debates concerning information policy occur without adequate technical understanding and scholarship. The new MIT Information Policy Project seeks to fill this gap with technically-informed research and politically-engaged dialogue, aimed at guiding Internet policymakers around the world.

The Information Policy Project will build on MIT’s proven approach to engineering research and education: We view policy development, like technology development, as a design discipline that should be driven by methodical study. The Initiative will take a long-term, foundational approach to public policy, with a five- to ten-year horizon. We will research options from across the political spectrum, with attention to the impacts that policy and technical choices have on innovation, speech, economic development, democracy and human rights. In the process, the Initiative will train a new generation of technology policy leaders in government, civil society, academia and industry.

In its first three years, the Project will tackle research challenges such as:

  • Privacy and surveillance, including accountable systems and their potential; mobile apps privacy; civil liberties in the age of big data; EU-US privacy agreements; and surveillance and national security.
  • Network architecture, including the evolution of wireless and wireline access; the economics and flow of payments across network layers; and alternate service provision models.
  • Internet governance, including assessments of global mechanisms; and the growth of expertise within the global internet community.
  • Computer Security, incluing cryptography, vulnerability discovery, and web security, and their economic effects
  • Other research priorities will include online copyright protection, Internet content regulation, and intermediary liability worldwide.

Our goal is to guide, and be guided by, key stakeholders in commerce, government and civil society. With a leadership team that developed key parts of the Internet’s technical and policy architecture over the last three decades, the Initiative will harness the perspective and experience that has kept the Internet developing in a principled, pragmatic, and innovative direction.