Former Google lobbyist to head tech think tank

Alan Davidson, a longtime scholar, open Internet advocate and former Google lobbyist, will lead the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), the organization announced on Friday.

Sascha Meinrath, the current president of the tech think tank, will head up the foundation’s new X-Lab venture, which it is billing as a project focusing on experimentation and innovation.

In a statement, New America Foundation CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter said Davidson will bring "world-class expertise in technology policy to New America, along with a wealth of technical and management strengths."


“He will build on the great work that Sascha imagined and brought into being," she added.

Davidson was an early backer of freedom online, at the Center for Democracy and Technology back in 1995. In 2005, he opened Google’s policy office in Washington, and worked as a lobbyist there until 2012.

Since then, Davidson has been a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has focused on computer science and artificial intelligence.

He starts the new post on March 31.

“As a long-time admirer of OTI, I am excited by this chance to contribute to its work on technology and policy in the service of opportunity and freedom,” he said in a statement. “And I am eager to bring OTI's expertise to bear on New America's work on the brilliant ideas that will shape our future.”

Meinrath will switch to X-Lab immediately. 

He founded OTI in 2009, and has focused on Internet freedom, equal treatment of content online and criticism of the government’s surveillance programs.