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Full Text: CDT President & CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens’ Tech Prom 2023 Remarks

On November 2, 2023, CDT Hosted Tech Prom, the annual social event bringing together policymakers, educators, civil society advocates, government representatives, corporate partners, and the public.

Following is the full text of CDT President and CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens, as delivered:


On behalf of all of us at CDT, welcome! We couldn’t be more thrilled to have you with us during yet another landmark week for tech policy.

This week: 

  • The U.S. laid out an ambitious, whole-of-government approach to the responsible development of AI
  • OMB issued binding guidance for federal agencies’ use of the technology. 
  • 10 leading foundations committed over $200 million to strengthen civil society’s engagement on AI.
  • The US Senate continued its bipartisan insight forums 
  • The G7 issued its AI Governance Code of Conduct
  • Global leaders convened at the UK AI Safety Summit to chart a course for research & risk-based policies. (I’m thrilled to be with you after leaving that UK Summit just this morning.) 

This busy AI cycle illustrates the value of the community that’s gathered in this room tonight. Throughout the UK Summit, participants called for concrete steps to address AI risks and advance responsible innovation. No company is going to do that work alone – and government can’t regulate in a vacuum. We need a robust community of experts, civil society voices, and policymakers working together to develop standards, norms, and legislative and regulatory protections to build a future we can trust.

At CDT, we’re committed to driving that collaborative engagement – and to advancing actionable solutions for the effective governance and regulation of AI. Last week, we announced a new AI Governance Lab to do exactly that – and we’re thrilled that the Lab’s new team is here with us tonight.

We bring this ethos across all of our work, and we’re honored to do it with this community at a momentous time across tech policy areas. 

The Supreme Court has now granted cert in three cases involving the future of online speech. Each case grapples with the relationship between government and social media services in online content moderation and trust & safety. 

CDT is making clear the need for social media services to be able to moderate content on their platforms without governments chilling those decisions – from addressing hate speech to harassment, to election disinformation and more. At the same time, we’re stressing the essential need for the government, independent researchers and social media companies to be able to share information about online threats – the issue at the heart of the Murthy v. Missouri case – even as the government cannot cross a First Amendment line and coerce companies into removing content. 

Right now, independent researchers who study mis- and dis-information are under attack, including people in this room: facing Congressional subpoenas, lawsuits, and online threats. As a tech policy community – everyone here tonight – we must condemn these attacks. We must also reject the current trend of devaluing trust & safety functions, which remain an essential tool to building internet services that users want. The timing couldn’t be more urgent. We are heading into one of the most consequential election years in modern history, with 2 billion people going to the polls next year. We’ve seen the playbook of malicious actors  – and we must do better than we did in the past. 

As we fight for an internet that users want, CDT remains laser-focused on protecting people’s privacy. Even in this AI hype cycle, CDT is keeping up its fight for meaningful consumer privacy laws! We’re also leading new work imagining a future where online advertising protects people’s privacy while allowing news sites and other online businesses to thrive.

We’re keeping up the fight to defend end-to-end encryption and the promises of privacy and security that it brings for journalists, human rights defenders, and ordinary people around the world. We’re working to limit unchecked government surveillance, as Congress moves to reauthorize Section 702.

Meanwhile, our civic technology team is reshaping the dialogue about how the technology used in government services and in schools must support – and protect the rights of – the people those programs are meant to serve.

We’re proud to do this & so much more in community with all of you. In addition to our phenomenal U.S. team, some of CDT Europe’s staff is here this evening! We’re proud to have doubled CDT Europe’s size this year as the EU’s legislative activities reshape tech practices not only in Europe but around the world.

We’re honored to have CDT alumni here this evening (in their own CDT lounge!) – along with our Board, Advisory Council, and Fellows! 

To the diverse foundations, corporate and individual donors who make our work possible, we’re deeply grateful to you. 

In addition to being a fun party, Tech Prom is a benefit that raises over 10% of CDT’s budget for the year to fuel the good work we do – so thank you all for being part of it. 

Now back to the Prom!