About

The Democracy & Tech Initiative creates policy practices that align global stakeholders toward tech and governance that reinforces, rather than undermines, open societies. It builds on the DFRLab’s established track record and leadership in the open-source field, empowering global communities to promote transparency and accountability online and around the world. The Initiative examines how the tech that connects and informs people is funded, built, and governed, and how that affects the viability of rights-respecting and democratic societies around the world.

Connective technologies are ubiquitous in modern life, and the ways in which governments use, promote, and regulate them is central to the global order. As many nations embrace an increasingly forceful authoritarian approach to these issues, the need for a powerful, coherent, and actionable democratic approach has never been greater.

The Democracy & Tech Initiative is designed to: 

  • Center human rights and democracy in tech and policy debates;   
  • Shape what happens next by looking beyond the current tech and democracy flash points;  
  • Ensure decisions about global tech include equities and stakeholders around the world;  
  • Connect and align siloed communities and issues in government, industry, and civil society; and   
  • Elevate a new generation of diverse leaders with crosscutting expertise to shape policy and industry outcomes. 

Leadership

Rose Jackson

Initiative Director

Rose Jackson is an entrepreneur and diplomat with 15+ years of experience strengthening democracy and defending human rights, leveraging technology for social impact, and building institutions to support democratic activists around the world. Jackson served as a foreign policy advisor in the U.S. Senate, chief of staff to the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and a senior advisor at the Open Society Foundations on U.S. security sector assistance. Before founding and serving as CEO of the social impact tech company, Beacon, Jackson led humanitarian and political development programs in revolutionary Libya and East Africa with the International Organization for Migration and the National Democratic Institute. She has served in numerous roles on U.S. political campaigns, and advised domestic and international organizations on movement organizing, responsible technology, and democratic institution-building.  

Graham Brookie

DFRLab Director

Graham Brookie is the director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) and a national security and information expert with a decade of experience leading cross-disciplinary teams. During Brookie’s tenure, the DFRLab has grown to be the third largest center at the Atlantic Council, and a home to more than 30 experts spread across six continents conducting groundbreaking research, shaping public policy, setting industry standards for analysis, and promoting diverse communities of #DigitalSherlocks around the world. Prior to the Atlantic Council Brookie served in a number of positions at the White House and National Security Council, including as an adviser for strategic communications, adviser to the assistant to the President for homeland security and counterterrorism, and in the East Asia, and Middle East and North Africa directorates.  

Nonresident fellows

The Democracy & Tech Initiative has brought together a world class cohort of nonresident fellows with crosscutting expertise, all dedicated to the mission of ensuring a more equitable and rights-respecting world. They are the embodiment of the Initiative’s approach, driving insight and action from a combined community of leaders representing the experience and sectors required to create change. They include AI experts, human rights advocates, scholars on China, former government officials and diplomats, leaders in companies seeking to address online harms, and former tech executives.

Related publications

Related events

360/Open Summit: The World in Motion

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) hosts 360/Open Summit: The World in Motion on June 22-25 online.

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.

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