Upturn

You know the issues.
But technology is changing
what's possible.

Show Me

We're technologists who understand law and policy.
We help our clients shape what happens next.

Services / Scope

  • Voting
  • National Security
  • Criminal Justice
  • Consumer Credit
  • Global Free Expression
  • Education
  • Employment

Projects

Technology impacts nearly every major social issue.
We explain how technology works and why it matters.
Here are some of the ways we're supporting our clients.

Protecting Civil Rights in the Era of Big Data

National Civil Rights Organizations

  • Services
  • Weekly newsletter
  • Major research reports
  • Technology & policy primers
  • Internal policy memos
  • Hands-on policy support

The decisions that shape people's lives—in employment, housing, finance, education, criminal justice and other key areas—are increasingly automated using data. With support from the Ford Foundation, we work with the nation's leading civil rights groups to ensure that new technologies treat all individuals fairly.

We examine how new technologies may disproportionately impact communities of color, women, and other protected groups. We provide policy-ready technical guidance to a coalition of national groups, coordinated by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Advancing Internet Freedom in China

New America Foundation's Open Internet Tools Project

  • Services
  • User study
  • Major research report

Users in China can't freely explore the Internet because of the regime's “Great Firewall.” But special software tools—when they work—can help users around those barriers. We proposed a new approach to developing circumvention tools, a strategy called “collateral freedom.”

We surveyed 1,175 Chinese Internet users and found that the most popular circumvention tools coincide with significant business use—where the government has economic incentives not to interfere. Activists are now using this strategy to promote free expression online.

Modernizing Legislative Drafting in Congress

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Services
  • Software development

If you want to understand how an amendment would change a bill in Congress, you need to get out a red pen. We're working with the House to change that, by creating a software tool that automatically applies an amendment to a bill and generates easy-to-read redlines.

In partnership with Xcential, we're working with the House legislative drafting office to create the Amendment Impact Program (AIP), a website that helps legislative drafters check the accuracy of their work. AIP will make understanding proposed amendments more efficient and transparent for everyone.

Deciphering the Technologies of Surveillance

Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

  • Services
  • Internal policy memos
  • Review for technical accuracy

The Snowden disclosures triggered a vital national debate about surveillance. We're working with the Brennan Center to decipher and evaluate technical claims about how the intelligence community intercepts, stores and analyzes digital information.

We support the Center's Liberty & National Security Program in its effort to understand the likely technical limits and capabilities of surveillance activities, and to explain how those activities could be interpreted under known U.S. laws and policies.

Exploring the Impact of New Financial Data

Ford Foundation

  • Services
  • Major policy report

New kinds of data are flowing into the decisionmaking systems that determine who gets access to credit and on what terms. We provided a “missing manual” for policy professionals seeking to better understand emerging trends in financial underwriting and marketing.

We explain that some types of new data might bolster financial inclusion, but also sound a note of caution about unproven underwriting models, and about online marketing based on credit data.

Improving Online Voter Registration

Rock the Vote

  • Services
  • Major policy report

Many states want to create an online option for voter registration. But the potential to reach voters depends heavily on technical design decisions, and what's allowable under various state laws. We worked with Rock the Vote to suggest a durable path forward.

We identified and explained a simple technological approach that's akin to a virtual mail slot—an intuitive analogy for state policymakers. Our recommendation—published in a Rock the Vote report—was later endorsed by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. This work was supported by the Ford Foundation.

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We've Worked With

Values

We believe everyone should be able to understand the technologies that shape their lives. We work with clients we believe in, and are passionate about what we do.

Impact.

We work on projects that 
matter beyond technology, 
and look for solutions 
with the longest levers.

Empathy.

We're experts without the 
attitude. We adopt our 
clients' perspectives and 
focus on their goals.

Clarity.

We prize writing and 
thinking that is 
precise, charismatic, 
and effective.

Team

David Robinson

Principal

Finds small words for big ideas. Keeps an unpredictable reading list and a consistent yoga schedule.
  • Previously
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
  • Time Magazine
  • Rhodes Scholar

Harlan Yu

Principal

Technologist. Highly excitable, but disturbingly calm under pressure. His default answer is always “yes.”
  • Previously
  • Ph.D., Computer Science, Princeton University
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Google

Aaron Rieke

Principal

Flexible and pragmatic. A diplomatic debater. Great at explaining complex board games.
  • Previously
  • J.D., Berkeley Law (Certificate of Law and Technology)
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Center for Democracy & Technology
  • American Civil Liberties Union

Miranda Bogen

Associate

Agile synthesizer. Forward thinker with a global outlook. Can see both the forest and the trees.
  • Previously
  • M.A., The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
  • Google Policy Fellow
  • Internet Education Foundation
  • Internet Law & Policy Foundry

Logan Koepke

Analyst

An energetic taskmaster who can manage a diverse docket. Curious by default. Lover of coffee and vinyl.
  • Previously
  • B.A., Northwestern University
  • Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP
  • www.nonsenseincontext.com

We're taking new projects, and growing our team.
Drop us a line: hello@teamupturn.com