Two New America Projects Among This Year’s Knight News Challenge Winners: Ranking Digital Rights and Measurement Lab

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WASHINGTON, DC — New America is pleased to announce that two of its projects – the project and (M-Lab) – are among this year’s winners of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge. The Knight News Challenge on strengthening the Internet is funding breakthrough ideas that strengthen the Internet for freedom of expression and innovation.
“We are thrilled by these two awards and thank Knight Foundation for its support and recognition,” said Alan Davidson, New America Vice President and Director of the Open Technology Institute. “The information that Ranking Digital Rights and M-Lab produce will equip policymakers, advocates and investors with tools they need to make the Internet a more free and equitable place.

“In order to ensure that the Internet remains an open forum for ideas and innovation we need more information on the limits being placed on its use,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation. “With these projects New America will help shed light on these issues and provide journalists and policymakers with essential information about Internet openness.”

Rebecca MacKinnon is Director of the Ranking Digital Rights project, which focuses on developing a methodology to rank Internet, telecommunications, and other ICT sector companies on free expression and privacy criteria. A pilot study will be conducted in 2014, then an annual ranking of companies will be launched in 2015.

“If the Internet is to be a platform for free expression and innovation, the tech companies that control and shape much of our online lives need to respect users' rights,” MacKinnon said. “We are honored by Knight’s support of our effort to benchmark companies on what they are (and aren't) doing to respect free expression and privacy.”

Led by Thomas Gideon, Technology Director of New America’s Open Technology Institute, M-Lab’s goal is to empower the public with useful information about their broadband connections. M-Lab is an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. By enhancing Internet transparency and discovering congestion and censorship, M-Lab helps sustain a healthy, innovative Internet.

“M-Lab is designed to let everyone - consumers, journalists, scientists, and regulators - look under the hood at how the Internet works to track things like connection speed, choke-points, and censorship,” said Gideon. “Transparency combined with good science is a powerful thing.”

To see a full list of this year’s Knight News Challenge winners, please visit:

Expert Contacts

Rebecca MacKinnon
Director, Ranking Digital Rights Project, New America
(202) 596-3343
Thomas Gideon
Technology Director, Open Technology Institute, New America
(202) 596-3394
Media Contact
Jenny Mallamo
Media Relations Associate, New America
(202) 596-3368


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Jenny Mallamo, Media Relations Associate, at (202) 596-3368 or

About New America
New America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States. To learn more, please visit us online at or follow us on Twitter .
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit
About the Knight News Challenge
The Knight News Challenge on strengthening the Internet is funding breakthrough ideas that strengthen the Internet for freedom of expression at innovation. More at
About the Ranking Digital Rights Project
The Ranking Digital Rights project brings together a group of international researchers and advocates. We are developing a methodology to evaluate and rank the world’s major Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies on free expression and privacy criteria in the context of international human rights standards.
About M-Lab
M-Lab is a collaborative effort led by researchers and technologists at OTI in partnership with companies and other institutions. We offer the world's largest public data set that measures how information flows over the network and what happens while it is on its way between your computer and the Internet.  M-Lab data is used by university research labs, government regulators, journalists, and consumers every day.  M-Lab is a global platform with dozens of measurement locations all over the world and a suite of open source testing tools designed by the research community. In order to achieve our goals, M-Lab depends on the active support of our partners, and we welcome input from anyone interested in helping the platform flourish.

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