About The NetGain Internet of Things (IoT) Conference will be held at the New York Public Library in Manhattan on Friday, April 21. The event will be livestreamed here.
The Internet has transformed how we connect and engage with the world around us, creating opportunities — and challenges — in every area of contemporary life. As often as the Internet is used to foster learning and promote justice, it’s also used to exert control and exacerbate inequality.
To address the challenges and opportunities of the Internet age, a group of major foundations has joined forces. Our goal is to strengthen digital society and advance the public interest.
This is the NetGain partnership.
In 2015, NetGain focused on strengthening the emerging field of public interest technology. Our goal was to increase the number of people around the world who are using their technological skills to advance the common good.
In February 2015, a group of the nation’s leading foundations made a public commitment to jointly address the challenges and opportunities of the digital age.
This new NetGain partnership was supported by five founding partners: the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations and Mozilla Foundation.
NetGain marked the first time a group of major foundations would work together to strengthen digital society, guided by a set of principles acknowledging the role of the Internet and related technologies in advancing the public interest.
NetGain deepens the commitment to digital rights from the five founding partners, each of which has long worked on Internet and technological issues, spending approximately $50 million collectively each year. By collaborating, the foundations aim to make their investments more efficient and better coordinated, allowing the group to address the Internet’s most pressing challenges—those that are too large for any one organization to tackle alone.
At the heart of the initiative is a set of “Technology Principles” that guide the group’s work in the digital space, including on privacy and transparency, free speech, and equal access to information online.
The rapid growth of the Internet creates challenges and opportunities in every area of contemporary life, from health and education to economic development, political engagement, civic life, and more. This change is enormous in scale and touches virtually every area of concern to philanthropy.
The Internet is not inherently good or bad. It can be used to foster enlightenment and learning, and promote justice. It can make information of all types available and commerce more efficient; open government to new voices and views; and connect people in ways that create understanding and encourage common cause. It can also be used to incite, manipulate, and humiliate; to facilitate new security threats and reinforce existing ones; exert control; stifle legitimate discourse and weaken society; concentrate power in the hands of a few; and leave many people and communities on the sidelines.
Along with the time-honored ways people communicate and engage with each other, people now connect in a networked public sphere: a digital commons where debate unfolds and communities are created. In this space, the flow of information, influence, and ideas is fundamentally different from that with non-digital counterparts, sometimes in surprising ways. This new public sphere can include and amplify more voices and opinions; or it can reinforce existing abuses of power.
Philanthropy has a unique role to play in helping to shape a better world. Foundations often come together for greater impact to tackle complex issues such as poverty, climate change, human rights, public health, and urbanization. The ubiquitous nature and power of the Internet demands that we come together again to help ensure that it is used for the common good.
Working together, we commit to influencing policy, markets, norms, and the design and use of the Internet and information technologies to make the world a better place.
As leaders in the field of philanthropy, we aim to:
As leaders in philanthropy, we will work to ensure that the Internet continues to be built, used, and governed in ways that create opportunity for all.
These principles will guide how we use the Internet every day in our work and with our partners.
We invite others to join us.