Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fall Semester, 2014

MIT 6.805/STS085: Foundations of Information Policy

Meets: Thursday 2-5, room 36-156
Enrollment limited, Permission of instructor required

6.805/STS085 is full for fall 2014. Students who have been admitted to the class have already been informed.

Note that there is an assignment due Sept. 3. See the page for Class 1 for details.

6.805 counts as a Course 6 Advanced Undergraduate Subject (AUS) and also as a communications intensive (CI-M) subject.

MIT Course 6 students may count 6.805 as one of the general engineering concentration subjects required for the S.B. or M.Eng. programs, or use this subject for HASS elective credit (but not both). Students wishing engineering concentration credit should enroll under the subject number 6.805, and students wishing HASS credit should enroll under the number STS085. Graduate credit can be granted through STS (not Course 6), although this will require making special arrangements with Prof. Fischer for extra work.

Students enrolling in the Course 6 MEng program can arrange to do an associated thesis in the area of information privacy, transparency, and accountability by simultaneously enrolling in 6.UAP, and completing an extended thesis proposal and preliminary implementation work by the end of the semester. The thesis can be continued the following semester, and there is a possibility of RA support for appropriately ambitious projects.

For a statement of class curricular goals, see the 6.805 Curricular Goals Map giving a dynamic graphical display connecting the class outcomes with the outcomes of other subjects in the Course 6 curriculum.

Student papers
Exemplary papers by students in the class in previous semesters.


A near-invisible niche for the vast majority of its existence, computer culture has only recently stepped into the big leagues and has yet to even learn the rules. Sprung from a world of digital absolutes, nerd brains are woefully unprepared for the fuzzy gray shadings inherent in the legal system. But if they can't play the game, they might as well just forfeit to save themselves the beatings.
-- Greg Knauss (Suck Magazine, Sep. 8, 2000)

The law is the instrument through which a technological revolution [the Internet] is undone. And since we have barely understood how technologists built this revolution, we don't even see when the lawyers take it away.
-- Larry Lessig (The Future of Ideas, 2001)