Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fall Semester, 2018

MIT 6.805/STS085/STS487: Foundations of Information Policy

Meets: Thursday 1-4, room 66-168
Enrollment limited, Permission of instructor required

General information

This page is a draft. The information here is from fall 2017 has not yet been updated for fall 2018.


Danny Weitzner
Principal Research Scientist, MIT CSAIL
David Edelman"
Director, Project on Tech, Econ & Nat'l Security, MIT CSAIL
Mike Fischer
Prof. of Anthropology and Sci. Tech. Studies, MIT
E51-201B, 617-253-2564
Jessie M Stickgold-Sarah
Lecturer, WAC
Michael Trice
Lecturer, WAC


In this class, we will consider the interaction between law, policy, and technology as they relate to the the evolving controversies over control of the Internet. This fall, we be doing an in-depth segment on a new approach to privacy on the Web, which replaces the traditional emphasis on secrecy and access control, by policies and technologies to make data use more accountable and transparent.

Topics we will explore include:

All information for this course is maintained on the Web via the class web site:

The syllabus and weekly assignments are linked from the course calendar web page.

The site contains course information, including pointers to assigned readings and source material, as well as archives of exemplary papers by students in the class.

Prerequisites and enrolling

Course 6 students may use this subject as one of Advanced Undergraduate Subjects (AUS) required for graduation, or as general engineering concentration subjects (EC electives) required for the S.B. or M.Eng. As an alternative, students may use the subject for HASS elective credit.

Students who want to use the subject to satisfy a department requirement (AUS or EC elective), should register for 6.805. Those who want to use it for HASS elective credit should register for STS.085. Graduate credit can be granted through STS (not Course 6), although this will require making special arrangements with Mike Fischer for extra work.

There are no formal prerequisites for this subject, but students should be prepared to do extensive independent research, involving both technology and policy analysis. In selecting participants for the class, we will be looking for people with appropriate backgrounds, such as knowledge of 6.033. Also, due to the importance of class participation, class attendance is mandatory.


The class will have many readings. Most of these are on the web and will be posted along with the weekly class assignments. There many of the readings will include judicial opinions. Here are some helpful hints on locating judicial opinions.

Grading and required work

Grades will be based on

Collaboration policy

We encourage students to discuss the content of assignments in this subject with other students and teaching staff.

When you submit an assignment under your name, we assume that you are certifying that the writing and details are entirely your own work and that you played a primary role in the conception stage.

For group assignments, each student contributes equally. We would like each group to write individual author contributions at the end of each group assignment.

At the end of the final project, students will submit a document to the teaching staff detailing the contributions of each team member.