In addition to the thesis Rafi completed as part of his Master of Public Policy degree program at Georgetown University, several of his other professional accomplishments are documented online.
Coordinated Efforts to Enable Unlocking of Mobile Devices for Use With Other Wireless Networks
In responding to a We the People petition seeking to enable consumers to legally use mobile devices with alternative carriers, the White House directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to pursue a comprehensive policy solution. Rafi coordinated agency efforts to address the issue, developing a strategy based on telecommunications rather than copyright policy. While the unlocking issue rose to prominence due to a decision rooted in copyright law, Rafi recognized the potential to more completely and permanently promote device portability by leveraging the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) authority to make rules governing wireless spectrum licensees. Extensive discussions with stakeholders culminated in an NTIA petition for rulemaking, which asks the FCC to require wireless carriers to remove locks on mobile phones, tablets, and other consumer devices upon the device owner's request. Less than three months after NTIA filed this petition, the FCC announced a voluntary agreement with carriers to unlock mobile phones and tablets after contract completion.
Led NTIA's Digital Nation Research on Computer and Internet Use in the United States
As a long-standing member of the team that examines data from the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey, Rafi has worked to produce in-depth research and analysis to aid in developing policies that advance widespread adoption of the Internet. Most recently, Rafi coordinated efforts to advance NTIA's Digital Nation research, working with colleagues and Census Bureau experts to update the survey instrument. He also led development of an online Data Central hub that serves a central repository for data and analysis, and includes an innovative Data Explorer tool for quickly visualizing trends in computer and Internet use.
Advised on Proposed Exemptions to the DMCA's Prohibition Against Circumvention
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) generally prohibits the circumvention of technological access controls that protect copyrighted works. These access controls—a range of software and hardware sometimes known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions—are designed to prevent unauthorized reproduction or use of copyrighted works, though they sometimes inhibit lawful uses of these works as well. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress may temporarily exempt specific classes of works from this provision in order to mitigate the harmful side effects of DRM. The Librarian acts on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, who in turn is required to consult with NTIA's Assistant Secretary. During the 2012 and 2015 DMCA rulemaking processs, Rafi and his colleagues attended hearings on proposed exemptions, met with stakeholders and staff from the Register's office, and advised the Assistant Secretary in his consultation with the Register. This process culminated in a detailed position letter to the Register, in which NTIA advocated for a number of exemptions aimed at facilitating innovation, fair use, and accessibility by persons with disabilities.
Led Development of a Massachusetts Boards and Commissions Web Site
In support of Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick's goals of increased civic engagement and government transparency, Rafi managed the creation of an online system that details the seven hundred boards and commissions to which the Governor makes appointments, and enables constituents to submit their résumés for consideration. This multiyear project entailed updating and verifying each record in an internal board database, identifying the specific needs of both public users and staff, and working with software developers to arrive at the best implementation that satisfies those needs. The result is a web site that sheds light on an important but little-known part of state government, encourages participation in civic life, and reduces paper use through electronic submissions.
Helped Create a Stipend Fund for Unpaid Public Service Internships
Sensing the opportunity to assist future generations of students as Tufts University began its Beyond Boundaries capital campaign, Rafi advocated for the creation of a fund to provide stipends for students undertaking unpaid summer internships. These positions provide invaluable real-world experience to students, but are often financially out-of-reach, so Rafi appealed to administrators to address this problem as a fundraising priority. University leadership agreed, and just a few months later Tufts was fortunate to receive a large gift that among other programs would fund stipends for unpaid public service internships. Rafi continued to play a key role in developing the program by working with the Director of Career Services to establish program requirements and selection criteria. The fund has provided $3,500 stipends to hundreds of Tufts students, enabling them to serve at nonprofit and government organizations without worrying about the substantial cost of such experiences.
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