Computers, Freedom, and Privacy

Final draft, 1 p.m. Friday!!!!!! Please add signatures, but no other editing changes!

(Other comments can be added to the associated discussion page or blog thread.) Please see Dear Potus 08 for the overall plan and next steps.

Note: the specific areas are based on the discussions at dinner on Wednesday.

May 23, 2008

Dear presidential candidates:

We call on your help to seize the momentous opportunity that the 2008 elections provide to spark a nationwide discussion on how information technologies (IT) and the knowledge economy impact traditional policy areas such as education, health care, social welfare, and civil liberties.

Our "Dear Potus 08" project is a series of web-based, interactive and open letters to the next President. This work, along with the accompanying broad dialog online and off, will cover topics that touch everybody in our nation, and in the process both engage and educate the public as well as industry and policymakers.

The topics we'll be discussing include

  • Creating a safer Internet for children and adults -- addressing such issues as cyberbullying, phishing, hacking, and cyberterrorism -- while also preserving freedom of speech and privacy
  • Reducing identity theft by leading consumer protection initiatives, including education, best practices, and -- where appropriate -- regulation
  • The role of copyright, patents, trademarks and also alternatives to intellectual property in fostering innovation and creativity in a peer-to-peer-based democratic culture
  • Using new technologies effectively to reduce health care costs and improve medical care and service without compromising patient privacy and creating security risks
  • Enabling access to technology and knowledge for all Americans, investing in bridging the digital divide and considering accessibility, interoperability, technology education in and outside schools, and training in technological design and regulation
  • Protecting privacy via comprehensive U.S. privacy legislation based on fair information principles, applying to governmental and private surveillance and data collection, and how this should be harmonized internationally

The participatory open letter format, along with accompanying discussions in online and offline forums, allows citizens to engage in the political process in a more deliberative way. We hope to pave the way and refine the methods for ongoing interactive communications between the general public and our government in the new administration. This effort will also help people develop a shared national vocabulary while gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges of the role of technology in the issues and concerns of Americans.

If you think this is a valuable goal and interesting approach, you can assist us by highlighting the importance of these issues, and your positions, as you're campaigning. Just as importantly, please challenge the media -- "old" and "new" -- to cover the issues with the depth they deserve and the attention currently paid to the sound-bite and horse race aspects of the campaigns.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We look forward to hearing what you and the technology policy experts in your campaign think of it.


  • Eddan Katz, chair 18th Computers, Freedom, and Privacy(CFP) Conference, Yale Law School/Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Jon Pincus, CFP program committee member,
  • Kent M Pitman, CFP attendee,
  • Nancy J. Howard, CFP attendee, HyperMeta Inc.
  • Michael Zimmer, CFP program committee member, Yale Information Society Project & UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies
  • Sascha Meinrath, CFP program committee member, New America Foundation
  • Steven Worond, CFP attendee, Educause
  • David Shay, CFP attendee, Kaltura/Yale ISP
  • Rashmi Rangnath, CFP attendee, Public Knowledge
  • Gregory Pincus, CFP attendee
  • Myles Losab, CFP attendee, Los Angeles ACM Chapter
  • Ben Masel, CFP speaker, Human
  • R. Guerra, CFP program committee member, Privaterra
  • Kaitlin Mara, CFP attendee
  • Deborah Pierce, CFP steering committee member,
  • Sharona Hoffman, CFP attendee, Case Western Reserve University
  • Andy Podgurski, CFP attendee, Case Western Reserve University
  • Frederick Lane, CFP attendee, author,
  • Nick Matthewson, CFP attendee, The Free Haven Project
  • Steve Nevas, CFP attendee
  • Greg R. Vetter, CFP attendee, University of Houston
  • Andrea Matwyshyn, CFP attendee, University of Pennsylvania
  • E. John Sebes, CFP attendee, Open Source Digital Voting
  • Giovanni Batista Gallus, CFP attendee, CGT (Italian Association of Cyberlawyers)
  • David P. Reed, CFP attendee
  • Ketan Tanna, CFP attendee, The Times of India
  • Konstantinos Karachalios, CFP keynote speaker, European Patent Office
  • Motohiro Tsuchiya, CFP attendee, MIT
  • Ville Oksanen, CFP attendee, EFFI
  • Jeremy Duffy, CFP attendee, DoD
  • Jocelyn Pitman, CFP attendee
  • Leah Belsky, CFP program committee member, Yale ISP


your name and affiliation here! if you'd like to make a longer statement, please add it to the signature thread on the blog. if you'd like to discuss, or dissent, please use the discussion and dissent thread.