(This is the fourth in our series spotlighting host organizations for the 2015 Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship. For years, Public Knowledge has been at the forefront of fighting for citizens and informing complex telecommunications policy to protect people. Working at Public Knowledge, the Fellow will be at the center of emerging policy that will shape the Internet as we know it. Apply to be a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow and use your tech skills at Public Knowledge to protect the Web.)
Spotlight on Public Knowledge: A Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Host
by Shiva Stella, Communications Manager of Public Knowledge
This year has been especially intense for policy advocates passionate about protecting a free and open internet, user protections, and our digital rights. Make no mistake: From net neutrality to the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, policy makers will continue to have an outsized influence over the web.
In order to enhance our advocacy efforts, Public Knowledge is hosting a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. We are looking for a leader with technical skills and drive to defend the internet, focusing on fair-use copyright and consumer protections. There’s a lot of important work to be done, and we know the public could use your help.
Public Knowledge works steadfastly in the telecommunications and digital rights space. Our goal is to inform the public of key policies that impact and limit a wide range of technology and telecom users. Whether you’re the child first responders fail to locate accurately because you dial 911 from a cell phone or the small business owner who can’t afford to “buy into” the internet “fast lane,” these policies affect your digital rights – including the ability to access, use and own communications tools like your set-top box (which you currently lease forever from your cable company, by the way) and your cell phone (which your carrier might argue can’t be used on a competing network due to copyright law).
There is no doubt that public policy impacts people’s lives, and Public Knowledge is advocating for the public interest at a critical time when special interests are attempting to shape policy that benefits them at our cost or that overlooks an issue’s complexity.
Indeed, in this interconnected world, the right policy outcome isn’t always immediately clear. Location tracking, for example, can impact people’s sense of privacy; and yet, when deployed in the right way, can lead to first responders swiftly locating someone calling 911 from a mobile device. Public Knowledge sifts through the research and makes sure consumers have a seat at the table when these issues are decided.
Public policy in this area can also impact the broader economy, and raises larger questions: Should we have an internet with a “fast lane“ for the relatively few companies that can afford it, and a slow lane for the rest of us? What would be the impact on innovation and small business if we erase net neutrality as we know it?
The answers to these questions require a community of leaders to advocate for policies that serve the public interest. We need to state in clear language the impact of ill-informed policies and how they affect people’s digital rights —including the ability to access, use and own communications tools, as well as the ability to create and innovate.
Even as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission reviews millions of net neutrality comments and considers approving huge mergers that risk consumers, the cable industry is busy hijacking satellite bills (STAVRA), stealthily slipping “pro-cable” provisions into legislation and that must be passed so 1.5 million satellite subscribers may continue receiving their (non-cable!) service. Public Knowledge shines light on these policies to prevent them from harming innovation or jeopardizing our creative and connected future. To this end we advocate for an open internet and public access to affordable technologies and creative works, engaging policy makers and the public in key policy decisions that affect us all.
Let us be clear: private interests are hoping you won’t notice or just don’t care about these issues. We’re betting that’s not the case. Please apply today to join the Public Knowledge team as a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow to defend the internet we love.
Apply to be a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. Application deadline for the 2015 Fellowship is December 31, 2014.