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.

Published in The Washington Post

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.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries 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. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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