Technologists so rarely understand the mysteries of policy, and policy makers so rarely understand how policy choices impact the Internet’s technical architecture. Yet policy wonks and technologists alike make decisions that greatly impact the free and open nature of the Internet. So when someone comes along who can navigate both worlds at the highest levels with ease and sophistication, he or she is truly a rare bird. CDT’s departing Chief Computer Scientist, Alissa Cooper, is one of those people. She is brilliant, passionate and possesses a preternatural ability to speak truth to power across the technology-policy divide. She is a leader poised to shape the future of the Internet for a generation to come.
Alissa and I started at CDT together more than eight years ago, so I have seen her rapid metamorphosis from smart Stanford grad to valued member of our staff to global leader. She helped us get it right on net neutrality, helped CDT draw the right lines on difficult privacy challenges and served as our technologist liaison to companies. Most importantly, she has represented the organization in the forums where technical decisions about the architecture of the Internet are made, often as the only voice for civil liberties and human rights. She very quickly made her mark, crafting and contributing to technical proposals that support openness, free expression, and privacy, while defending against proposed architectural changes that threaten these values.
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