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The Information Society Project (ISP) is an intellectual center at Yale Law School, founded in 1997 by Professor Jack Balkin. Over the past twenty years, the ISP has grown from a handful of people gathering to discuss internet governance into an international community working to illuminate the complex relationships between law, technology, and society.
At its core, the ISP is an intimate community of interdisciplinary scholars—comprised of resident fellows, visiting fellows, student fellows, and Yale University faculty—exploring cutting-edge issues at the intersection of law, technology, and society. Our fellows have diverse academic backgrounds and practical experience in law, communications, computer science, medicine, journalism, economics, political science, art, cognitive psychology, sociology, and film studies. ISP alumni who hold academic positions join our international network of nearly one hundred ISP affiliate fellows; other alumni have become legal practitioners, activists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. While members of the ISP community have diverse areas of expertise, almost all of our work fits into one or more of the ISP Research Areas.
ISP resident fellows bring impact ligation, file amicus briefs, and publish blog posts, op-eds, and scholarly articles. To learn more about our work, see our Accomplishment Books.
Our Educational Mission
The ISP hosts nearly 100 educational events over the course of the academic year designed to promote novel scholarship, foster the cross-pollination of ideas, and spark new collaborations. Recent significant conferences have included (Im)Perfect Enforcement, We Robot 2017, and Unlocking the Black Box. The ISP also regularly sponsors formal and informal themed reading groups.
In addition to creating a space for collaboration and discussion, the ISP is also home to a variety of initiatives with complementary educational and advocacy aims.
The Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression promotes freedom of speech, freedom of the press, access to information, and government transparency. The Institute’s activities are grounded in the belief that collaboration between the academy and the bar will enrich both scholarship and practice. To this end, the Institute sponsors an annual Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference (FESC), various practitioner-scholar conferences on novel First Amendment issues. It also supports the work of the MFIA clinic, a separate ISP initiative. The Abrams Institute is made possible by a generous gift from Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s most influential defenders of freedom of speech and the press.
The Media Freedom and Information Access (MFIA) Clinic is dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the work of news gatherers, and promoting freedom of expression. It provides pro bono legal services, pursues impact litigation, and develops policy initiatives. Clients have included independent journalists, start-up and established news organizations, public interest organizations, activists, and academics. MFIA’s diverse docket is roughly organized into five broad project areas: Government Accountability, Constitutional Access, National Security, Open Data, and Newsgathering Rights. It has litigated gag orders, defended libel claims, and pursued scores of access lawsuits (including both FOIA litigation and cases seeking to enforce or extend the First Amendment right of access). MFIA also hosts the annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) bootcamp and Digital Security training for clinical students; specialized Law for Journalists trainings on timely legal issues like conflicts of interest law (Jan 2017) or best practices for handling leaked information (Mar 2017); and the Access and Accountability Conference, a new annual event where transparency advocates can discuss new legal theories, pedagogical approaches, and best practices for promoting government transparency and accountability. MFIA’s work is made possible by the generous support of the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Legal Clinics Fund.
The Knight Law and Media Program (LAMP) is designed to foster a deeper understanding of the issues at the intersection of law, media, and journalism and to encourage students to pursue careers in media law. Knight LAMP sponsors journalist speakers, writing workshops, and summer internships for Yale Law School students working on media law, defending the First Amendment, or protecting journalists. Knight LAMP is made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information (WIII) has two main aims: to raise awareness of threats to an open internet, especially those affecting online intermediaries and their users, and to make creative policy suggestions that protect and promote internet-facilitated access to information. At least initially, there will be a particular focus on promoting the “right to link,” understanding link censorship laws and litigation, and other issues regarding hyperlink and intermediary liability. WIII grew out of an ongoing academic collaboration between Yale Law School and the Wikimedia Foundation and is made possible by a generous gift from the Wikimedia Foundation.
The Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice (PSRJ) is an incubator of novel litigation strategies and legal theories designed to advance reproductive rights and justice. It sponsors academic research on reproductive health access issues; drafts amicus briefs; supports young scholars interested in related careers; and hosts the Reproductive Rights and Justice Project, where students gain firsthand experience in fast-paced litigation and strategic advocacy on behalf of reproductive health care providers and their patients.
Privacy Lab is a nexus for workshops and discussions concerning software, hardware, and spectrum freedom, as well as a resource for cryptographic and anonymity tools. We provide informal cyber security advice and recommendations, as well as detailed trainings in the use of industry-standard security software.