Getting Internet policy right

In this op-ed, Jenny Toomey, director of the foundation's work on Internet Rights, and Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, examine the tech talent crisis and point to some signs of hope. “Attracting new, talented leaders willing to fight and defend the Internet is critical,” they write. “Today’s computer science students can’t imagine a career path that leads them to Washington.” And the public sector needs their technical expertise: That’s why Ford and Mozilla are teaming up to invest in programs that develop opportunities and career paths for the next generation of “Web literate, digitally-savvy public servants.”

Published in The Washington Post | June 19, 2015
How do we get Internet policy right? Bring in the nerds.
By Dave Steer and Jenny Toomey


This has been a milestone year for Internet policy. After a slew of significant public policy wins for the Internet—net neutrality and surveillance reform, to name but two—we are finally starting to see a movement to protect the public’s rights online.

But these issues are incredibly complex, and sustaining these victories will require a new cadre of digitally-savvy public servants who can seamlessly navigate both the technical and policy realms. Just as the environmental movement relies on ecologists to protect the oceans and the air, the movement to keep the Internet free and accessible needs leaders with tech expertise and Web literacy to inform the public dialogue.

The Internet has transformed how we connect and engage with the world around us, creating challenges and opportunities in every area of contemporary life. On one hand, the Internet can foster learning, organize global movements, distribute financial supports and expose injustices. On the other, it can be used to exert control, stifle legitimate discourse, entrench bias and concentrate power in the hands of a few.

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The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.