NII Project History
With the election of William Clinton and Albert Gore, computing technology -- and networks in particular -- have emerged as central issues of social policy. The centerpiece of this debate is the National Information Infrastructure, or NII.
Throughout the development of the NII concept, CPSR has played an active role to ensure that the rights of individual citizens are preserved. In 1992, CPSR issued a set of privacy guidelines for the National Research and Education Network (NREN), which were presented by Marc Rotenberg, who was then directing CPSR's Washington office. When Clinton and Gore issued their first white paper on technology in February, CPSR was once again able to respond quickly and develop a campaign that has kept pace with the debate.
In 1993, CPSR launched a new project on the NII, marked by the following highlights:
- At the end of 1992, Gary Chapman put out a call through the Internet asking people to offer advice to the new administration on the critical issues involving technology. The response was enormous. Respondents touched on many different themes and represented a wide range of perspectives, but there was nonetheless a common theme: the importance of the Internet and the need to expand networking capabilities. A representative sampling of the responses was published in the Winter 1993 issue of the CPSR Newsletter.
- In February, President Clinton and Vice President Gore visited Silicon Valley. During that visit, the administration released a paper entitled "Technology for America's Economic Growth: A New Direction to Build Economic Strength" focusing on the need to expand the networking infrastructure of the United States. Because of CPSR's established reputation in the social aspects of technology, CPSR was quickly contacted by the media for a response, and CPSR representatives appeared on The McNeill-Lehrer News Hour and National Public Radio, as well as many news articles.
- In March, CPSR volunteers and activists from throughout the United States met in Palo Alto to consider new directions for CPSR as part of our biannual leadership retreat. The administration's technology initiative was discussed at some length and generated a great deal of excitement. At the CPSR Board of Directors meeting following the retreat, we decided to initiate a project around the NII.
- In June, we published the Summer 1993 issue of the CPSR Newsletter, which focused on the NII. In addition to a call to action by CPSR Project Directors Gary Chapman and Marc Rotenberg, the issue also contained articles on community networks and the implications for libraries of the NII.
- At the end of June, the CPSR Board met in Washington D.C., where we had the chance to talk with senior members of the Administration's science policy team, congressional staffers working in the area, and leaders of other organizations concerned about the NII. We came away from those meetings with a strong sense that CPSR had a central role to play in presenting the public-interest side of the NII debate. The people that we talked to believed that CPSR was the right organization to take on this role, and we responded to the challenge. At the board meeting, we undertook the task of preparing a position paper articulating a public-interest perspective on the NII.
- Over the rest of the summer, volunteer teams in different parts of the country set about the task of writing the NII paper. We wrote to all CPSR members and asked for input. Several drafts of the document were written and circulated to the members who responded. Five chapters held special meetings or convened working groups on the issue. We also began to work in coalition with other organizations on NII issues. CPSR played an active role in the Telecommunications Policy Roundtable in Washington, which brought together more than 60 organizations and adopted a common set of principles that serve as guidelines for NII design.
- On October 16, the 1993 Annual Meeting of CPSR was held in Seattle, focusing on the NII. A draft of the NII report was discussed at the meeting and was subsequently endorsed by the CPSR Board.
- On October 26, CPSR released its final report at a press conference in Washington, where it has been very well received. The full report, "Serving the Community: A Public Interest Vision of the National Information Infrastructure," also appeared in the Winter 1994 issue of the CPSR Newsletter.
The NII campaign is currently our most active project and is likely to remain so for the next few years.
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Created before October 2004