New Carolina center to craft public policy for a better internet

How can internet users speak freely online while also being protected from harmful content? How can real security threats from foreign technology products be addressed without depriving people of apps they use daily? How can technology better protect minors, while still giving them access to innovative, private online experiences? These are the questions that now dominate conversations surrounding technology.

A new center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill aims to answer them.

The Center on Technology Policy, housed in the UNC School of Information and Library Science, launched on April 21 and aims to offer public policy solutions that can inform lawmakers in developing tech policy. As a result, emerging technologies can be regulated to minimize user risks and maximize benefits.

“Our goal is for the Center on Technology Policy to offer an affirmative vision for public policy that will improve our tech products and online content,” Matt Perault, CTP’s director and professor of the practice at SILS, said. To achieve this, CTP plans to release policy briefs, podcasts, research papers and other materials to guide tech policy development and provide resources to the public on informed internet technology use.

One such resource has already been published. Perault and J. Scott Babwah Brennen, who serves as head of online expression at CTP, co-authored a guide for state lawmakers on how they can regulate online content. The guide was released in tandem with the center’s launch.

“The guide offers state lawmakers practical and legal options for better regulating online content,” Babwah Brennan said. “As a result, states have an opportunity to address the root causes of hate speech, harassment, misinformation, illegal content and problematic content moderation while strengthening the institutions and infrastructures required to build healthy communication systems.”

Developing the future of tech policy professionals

Using a practitioner-oriented approach to technology policy, CTP hopes to connect Carolina students with educational and professional opportunities in the field. The end goal? To develop the next generation of technology policy professionals, developers,…