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Science and Academic Freedom in the Digital Age

On October 10, 2012 the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition convened a special event on "Science and Academic Freedom in the Digital Age."

The movement to protect Internet freedom – the exercise of human rights online – has important implications for the work of scientists and engineers. What are the opportunities for collaboration, and how can developments in Internet policy influence broader science and human rights issues? Join us for a discussion with Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the US government’s lead human rights official, about the overlapping interests that connect science, technology and human rights.


Speaker Biographies

Sascha Meinrath is vice president of the New America Foundation and director of the Open Technology Institute. In 2012 he was named one of the top 100 in Newsweek’s Digital Power Index and he has been described as a “community Internet pioneer” and an “entrepreneurial visionary.” He is a well-known expert on community wireless networks, municipal broadband, and telecommunications policy. In 2009 he was named one of Ars Technica’s Tech Policy “People to Watch” and is also the 2009 recipient of the Public Knowledge IP3 Award for excellence in public interest advocacy. Meinrath founded the Commotion Wireless Project (a.k.a., the “Internet-in-a-Suitcase”) and is the co-founder of Measurement Lab (M-Lab), a distributed server platform for researchers around the world to deploy Internet measurement tools, advance network research, and empower the public with useful information about their broadband connections. He coordinates the Open Source Wireless Coalition, a global partnership of wireless integrators, researchers, implementers and companies dedicated to the development of open source, interoperable, low-cost wireless technologies. Meinrath has worked with Free Press, the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), the Acorn Active Media Foundation, the Ethos Group, and the CUWiN Foundation.

Norman P. Neureiter received a B.A. degree in chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1952 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University in 1957. He spent a year (’55-6) as a Fulbright Fellow in the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Munich. In 1957, he joined Humble Oil and Refining as a research chemist, also teaching German and Russian at the University of Houston. In 1963, he joined the International Affairs Office of the U.S. National Science Foundation and managed the newly established U.S.-Japan Cooperative Science Program. Entering the U.S. Foreign Service in 1965, he was named Deputy Scientific Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn. In 1967, he was transferred to Warsaw as the first U.S. Scientific Attaché in Eastern Europe with responsibility for Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Dr. Neureiter returned to Washington in 1969 as Assistant for International Affairs to the President’s Science Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology. He left the Government in 1973 and joined Texas Instruments (TI). In September 2000, he was appointed as the first Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. Finishing the 3-year assignment in 2003, he was made a Distinguished Presidential Fellow for International Affairs at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In May 2004, he joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as the first Director of the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy (CSTSP).

Michael H. Posner was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on September 23, 2009. Prior to joining State Department, Mr. Posner was the Executive Director and then President of Human Rights First. At Human Rights First, he helped the organization earn a reputation for leadership in the areas of refugee protection, advancing a rights-based approach to national security, challenging crimes against humanity, and combating discrimination. He has been a frequent public commentator on these and other issues, and has testified dozens of times before the U.S. Congress. Mr. Posner also has been a prominent voice in support of fair, decent, and humane working conditions in factories throughout the global supply chain. He also was involved in the development of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at promoting free expression and privacy rights on the internet. Before joining Human Rights First, Mr. Posner was a lawyer with Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago. He lectured at Yale Law School from 1981 to 1984, and again in 2009. He was a visiting lecturer at Columbia University Law School since 1984. A member of the California Bar and the Illinois Bar, he received his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall) in 1975, and a B.A. with distinction and honors in History from the University of Michigan in 1972.


AAAS would like to thank the sponsors of this meeting for their generous support.

  • American Chemical Society, Committee on International Activities
  • American Education Resource Association
  • American Physical Society
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Statistical Association
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Sociologists Without Borders