The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Oct 21, 2011

Daniel Weitzner: “We’ve seen how critical the Internet and mobile networks are for people to realize the goals they have”

Posted by Robertson Adams

Daniel Weitzner, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy, The White House

This post is one in the series, "The Digital Revolution & Democracy."

On President Obama's first day in office, he promised that "transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency." Keeping up with the demand for this transparency is an immense task, and Deputy Chief Technology Officer Danny Weitzner is the person in the breech. is the main conduit through which the executive branch offers this information, and Weitzner promises it's "raw data, it’s unfiltered, it’s not edited. We don’t spin it, we don’t clean it up. It’s a view into how the government is actually operating. And it’s a platform on which people can build applications and services." 

He said, "we felt that we have to really take seriously the challenges of internet policy, such as privacy policy, cyber security on the internet, protection of intellectual property and in many ways probably most importantly ensuring that we have a real, free flow of information so that the internet can continue to grow and flourish." 

He discussed the issues of broadband access and the opportunities for digital democracy in the 2011 Aspen Institute Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS) sesson on Digital Governance. Knight Foundation's Dennis Scholl interviewed him there. Many of the issues raised at the forum include issues of digital access.

"The internet, as we all know, has transformed our democratic process.... What we saw in the campaign, is that the power of social networks -- and the power of mobile technology -- is absolutely critical to individuals’ participation in the campaign process, in the economy, in education, in all kinds of arenas." He continued, "what we learned is people want to know that they can participate publicly, and that they can interact publicly, but the information won’t be used against them, and won't be used to deny them credit or insurance." 

Knight Foundation's interview with Weitzner is one of 17 to be published on KnightBlog as part of "The Digital Revolution and Democracy," a series of idea-inspiring videos that examine the ever-evolving trends transforming our lives. From the Arab Spring to the Digital Divide, from the promise to the peril of these new tools, we talk with thought leaders who are shaping the future of media and democracy. Follow along as foundation Vice President Dennis Scholl interviews 17 leaders who believe passionately in self-government -- but have different visions of how it will evolve.

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