CDT’S 2017 ANNUAL REPORT
LETTER FROM OUR CEO
The events of 2017 illuminated a hard truth: the internet, and the platforms and technologies that sprang from its success, do not always have democracy’s best interest at heart. But if we engage in inclusive conversations about how to make tech work better for people, we can harness the power of the internet and advance democratic values globally. Policymakers must be deliberate and forward-looking, the populace must be informed and involved, and the private sector must be civically engaged. The Center for Democracy & Technology works tirelessly to make all of this happen, and as democracy faces new challenges in the digital age, our work has never been more important.
CDT has long been a convener of diverse groups and institutions to collaboratively form the best public policies around tech and the internet. This central role has never been more challenging, yet through thoughtful and respectful advocacy, we have found solutions to many complex policy issues and ignited new conversations around the technologies that impact our daily lives.
We’re working to make elections more secure. Without confidence in the electoral process, democracy cannot thrive; citizens must trust that their vote counts. By working closely with state and local officials in the United States, we are developing cybersecurity guidance for election officials that will benefit democracies worldwide.
We’ve remained a steadfast champion for ensuring that online speech receives the highest level of legal protection. As governments worldwide pressure companies to take down more online speech for a range of reasons, CDT pushes back against proposals that would certainly lead to overbroad censorship.
And when CDT first started exploring the ways that digital decisions can impact individuals and society, few were truly contemplating how discrimination, bias, and power structures could unintentionally be embedded into technology. Today, is it evident to most that not only are algorithms not neutral, but they can also restrict opportunities, limit viewpoints, and advance misinformation. That’s why CDT is working with companies and government agencies to help ensure that crucial ethical questions are raised during the development phase of new technologies and not just after their deployment.
CDT continues to be a staunch advocate for freedom of expression, net neutrality, the privacy rights of every consumer, and the right of citizens to live free of constant government surveillance. The year ahead will unquestionably pose challenges to all of these fundamental rights, but thanks to the generous support of individuals, foundations, and businesses alike, CDT will be there as an ardent advocate for your digital rights.