October 9, 2015 - 6:00pm PDT to October 11, 2015 - 4:00pm PDT
MIT Media Lab

The Freedom to Innovate Summit is a two-day conversation at MIT dedicated to championing reforms to outdated criminal hacking laws and university policies that stifle innovation. The conference will be held October 10th and 11th of 2015.

The ability to innovate freely is essential for all technological advances. Innovation is at the core of our universities, research institutions, and economy. Innovators’ ability to experiment has allowed for the creations that range from technology that will launch a new start-up to new medical techniques that can be used worldwide.

The origin stories of many of the most successful technology companies today are spotted with activities that had the potential for run-ins with the law. Since those days, laws restricting use of technology, intellectual property, and experimentation have become more prevalent, and have been used more often to prosecute researchers. With the growth of informal university-based innovation and civic technology, students, researchers, and other innovators are increasingly becoming targets for legal action.

The risks for students and researchers are numerous and real. Innovators are often afraid to publish their results, interact with certain technologies, or even consider investigating certain fields as a result of legal restrictions. Those who overcome the chilling effects of these laws must brace themselves for legal action, which can be costly in both time and money. Currently there are few ways to support these students, researchers, or other innovators should they be threatened with legal action.

The Center for Civic Media at MIT and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with support from the Ford Foundation, are organizing a two day summit on the Freedom to Innovate with a focus on university communities. The event will convene innovation scholars, legal experts, and student groups from many universities to talk about cases that have already happened, discuss ways that universities and government can protect and promote informal innovation, and organize to implement best practices across institutions.