Innovations In The Fight Against Corruption In Latin America

Blog Post by Beth Noveck:  “…The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has published an important, practical and prescriptive report with recommendations for every sector of society from government to individuals on innovative and effective approaches to combatting corruption. While focused on Latin America, the report’s proposals, especially those on the application of new technology in the fight against corruption, are relevant around the world….

IADB Anti-Corruption Report

The recommendations about the use of new technologies, including big data, blockchain and collective intelligence, are drawn from an effort undertaken last year by the Governance Lab at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering to crowdsource such solutions and advice on how to implement them from a hundred global experts. (See the Smarter Crowdsourcing against Corruption report here.)…

Big data, when published as open data, namely in a form that can be re-used without legal or technical restriction and in a machine-readable format that computers can analyze, is another tool in the fight against corruption. With machine readable, big and open data, those outside of government can pinpoint and measure irregularities in government contracting, as Instituto Observ is doing in Brazil.

Opening up judicial data, such as information about case processing times, judges’ and prosecutors’ salaries, information about selection processes, such as CV’s, professional and academic backgrounds, and written and oral exam scores provides activists and reformers with the tools to fight judicial corruption. The Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ) (a non-profit advocacy group) in Argentina uses such open justice data in its Concursos Transparentes (Transparent Contests) to fight judicial corruption. Jusbrasil is a private open justice company also using open data to reform the courts in Brazil….(More)”

Artificial Intelligence: Public-Private Partnerships join forces to boost AI progress in Europe

European Commission Press Release: “…the Big Data Value Association and euRobotics agreed to cooperate more in order to boost the advancement of artificial intelligence’s (AI) in Europe. Both associations want to strengthen their collaboration on AI in the future. Specifically by:

  • Working together to boost European AI, building on existing industrial and research communities and on results of the Big Data Value PPP and SPARC PPP. This to contribute to the European Commission’s ambitious approach to AI, backed up with a drastic increase investment, reaching €20 billion total public and private funding in Europe until 2020.
  • Enabling joint-pilots, for example, to accelerate the use and integration of big data, robotics and AI technologies in different sectors and society as a whole
  • Exchanging best practices and approaches from existing and future projects of the Big Data PPP and the SPARC PPP
  • Contributing to the European Digital Single Market, developing strategic roadmaps and  position papers

This Memorandum of Understanding between the PPPs follows the European Commission’s approach to AI presented in April 2018 and the Declaration of Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence signed by all 28 Member States and Norway. This Friday 7 December the Commission will present its EU coordinated plan….(More)”.

Advancing Open Data for Open Governance in Asia

Paper by Michael P. Cañares: “The record of countries in the region in terms of transparency and accountability is dismal. In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index released by Transparency International, more than half of the country in the region scored below 50, with at least a quarter of these are countries considered with systemic corruption problems. Nevertheless, there have been significant attempts of several countries to install transparency measures and project a commitment towards greater openness. At least a dozen of countries has right to information laws that provide citizens’ fundamental access to government information and several have installed open data policies and are implementing e-government programs or practices. But access of citizens to data and information to hold governments to account, demand for better services, and strengthen citizen participation in governance remain elusive.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP’s vision is that more governments become more transparent, more accountable, and more responsive to their own citizens, with the goal of improving the quality of governance, as well as the quality of services that citizens receive. Since its inception in 2011, OGP today brings together 75 countries and 15 subnational governments with over 2,500 commitments to make their governments more open and accountable. In Asia, only the governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea are participating countries along with two subnational pilots, Seoul and Bojonegoro. These governments have launched initiatives to involve citizens in the planning and budgeting processes, proactively disclose budget and other public financial information, and engage citizens in monitoring of public service delivery. But these countries remain the exception rather than the norm….(More)”.

What difference does data make? Data management and social change

Paper by Morgan E. Currie and Joan M. Donovan: “The purpose of this paper is to expand on emergent data activism literature to draw distinctions between different types of data management practices undertaken by groups of data activists.

The authors offer three case studies that illuminate the data management strategies of these groups. Each group discussed in the case studies is devoted to representing a contentious political issue through data, but their data management practices differ in meaningful ways. The project Making Sense produces their own data on pollution in Kosovo. Fatal Encounters collects “missing data” on police homicides in the USA. The Environmental Data Governance Initiative hopes to keep vulnerable US data on climate change and environmental injustices in the public domain.

In analysing our three case studies, the authors surface how temporal dimensions, geographic scale and sociotechnical politics influence their differing data management strategies….(More)”.

These patients are sharing their data to improve healthcare standards

Article by John McKenna: “We’ve all heard about donating blood, but how about donating data?

Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, heart disease and epilepsy are predicted by the World Health Organization to account for 57% of all disease by 2020.

Heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers.

This has led some experts to call NCDs the “greatest challenge to global health”.

Could data provide the answer?

Today over 600,000 patients from around the world share data on more than 2,800 chronic diseases to improve research and treatment of their conditions.

People who join the PatientsLikeMe online community share information on everything from their medication and treatment plans to their emotional struggles.

Many of the participants say that it is hugely beneficial just to know there is someone else out there going through similar experiences.

But through its use of data, the platform also has the potential for far more wide-ranging benefits to help improve the quality of life for patients with chronic conditions.

Give data, get data

PatientsLikeMe is one of a swathe of emerging data platforms in the healthcare sector helping provide a range of tech solutions to health problems, including speeding up the process of clinical trials using Real Time Data Analysis or using blockchain to enable the secure sharing of patient data.

Its philosophy is “give data, get data”. In practice it means that every patient using the website has access to an array of crowd-sourced information from the wider community, such as common medication side-effects, and patterns in sufferers’ symptoms and behaviour….(More)”.

The soft spot of hard code: blockchain technology, network governance and pitfalls of technological utopianism

Moritz Hutten at Global Networks: “The emerging blockchain technology is expected to contribute to the transformation of ownership, government services and global supply chains. By analysing a crisis that occurred with one of its frontrunners, Ethereum, in this article I explore the discrepancies between the purported governance of blockchains and the de facto control of them through expertise and reputation. Ethereum is also thought to exemplify libertarian techno‐utopianism.

When ‘The DAO’, a highly publicized but faulty crowd‐funded venture fund was deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, the techno‐utopianism was suspended, and developers fell back on strong network ties. Now that the blockchain technology is seeing an increasing uptake, I shall also seek to unearth broader implications of the blockchain for the proliferation or blockage of global finance and beyond. Contrasting claims about the disruptive nature of the technology, in this article I show that, by redeeming the positive utopia of ontic, individualized debt, blockchains reinforce our belief in a crisis‐ridden, financialized capitalism….(More)”.

Blockchain systems are tracking food safety and origins

Nir Kshetri at The Conversation: “When a Chinese consumer buys a package labeled “Australian beef,” there’s only a 50-50 chance the meat inside is, in fact, Australian beef. It could just as easily contain rat, dog, horse or camel meat – or a mixture of them all. It’s gross and dangerous, but also costly.

Fraud in the global food industry is a multi-billion-dollar problem that has lingered for years, duping consumers and even making them ill. Food manufacturers around the world are concerned – as many as 39 percent of them are worried that their products could be easily counterfeited, and 40 percent say food fraud is hard to detect.

In researching blockchain for more than three years, I have become convinced that this technology’s potential to prevent fraud and strengthen security could fight agricultural fraud and improve food safety. Many companies agree, and are already running various tests, including tracking wine from grape to bottle and even following individual coffee beans through international trade.

Tracing food items

An early trial of a blockchain system to track food from farm to consumer was in 2016, when Walmart collected information about pork being raised in China, where consumers are rightly skeptical about sellers’ claims of what their food is and where it’s from. Employees at a pork farm scanned images of farm inspection reports and livestock health certificates, storing them in a secure online database where the records could not be deleted or modified – only added to.

As the animals moved from farm to slaughter to processing, packaging and then to stores, the drivers of the freight trucks played a key role. At each step, they would collect documents detailing the shipment, storage temperature and other inspections and safety reports, and official stamps as authorities reviewed them – just as they did normally. In Walmart’s test, however, the drivers would photograph those documents and upload them to the blockchain-based database. The company controlled the computers running the database, but government agencies’ systems could also be involved, to further ensure data integrity.

As the pork was packaged for sale, a sticker was put on each container, displaying a smartphone-readable code that would link to that meat’s record on the blockchain. Consumers could scan the code right in the store and assure themselves that they were buying exactly what they thought they were. More recent advances in the technology of the stickers themselves have made them more secure and counterfeitresistant.

Walmart did similar tests on mangoes imported to the U.S. from Latin America. The company found that it took only 2.2 seconds for consumers to find out an individual fruit’s weight, variety, growing location, time it was harvested, date it passed through U.S. customs, when and where it was sliced, which cold-storage facility the sliced mango was held in and for how long it waited before being delivered to a store….(More)”.

What do we learn from Machine Learning?

Blog by Giovanni Buttarelli: “…There are few authorities monitoring the impact of new technologies on fundamental rights so closely and intensively as data protection and privacy commissioners. At the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, the 40th ICDPPC (which the EDPS had the honour to host), they continued the discussion on AI which began in Marrakesh two years ago with a reflection paper prepared by EDPS experts. In the meantime, many national data protection authorities have invested considerable efforts and provided important contributions to the discussion. To name only a few, the data protection authorities from NorwayFrance, the UK and Schleswig-Holstein have published research and reflections on AI, ethics and fundamental rights. We all see that some applications of AI raise immediate concerns about data protection and privacy; but it also seems generally accepted that there are far wider-reaching ethical implications, as a group of AI researchers also recently concluded. Data protection and privacy commissioners have now made a forceful intervention by adopting a declaration on ethics and data protection in artificial intelligence which spells out six principles for the future development and use of AI – fairness, accountability, transparency, privacy by design, empowerment and non-discrimination – and demands concerted international efforts  to implement such governance principles. Conference members will contribute to these efforts, including through a new permanent working group on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence.

The ICDPPC was also chosen by an alliance of NGOs and individuals, The Public Voice, as the moment to launch its own Universal Guidelines on Artificial Intelligence (UGAI). The twelve principles laid down in these guidelines extend and complement those of the ICDPPC declaration.

We are only at the beginning of this debate. More voices will be heard: think tanks such as CIPL are coming forward with their suggestions, and so will many other organisations.

At international level, the Council of Europe has invested efforts in assessing the impact of AI, and has announced a report and guidelines to be published soon. The European Commission has appointed an expert group which will, among other tasks, give recommendations on future-related policy development and on ethical, legal and societal issues related to AI, including socio-economic challenges.

As I already pointed out in an earlier blogpost, it is our responsibility to ensure that the technologies which will determine the way we and future generations communicate, work and live together, are developed in such a way that the respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law are supported and not undermined….(More)”.

Data-Driven Development

Report by the World Bank: “…Decisions based on data can greatly improve people’s lives. Data can uncover patterns, unexpected relationships and market trends, making it possible to address previously intractable problems and leverage hidden opportunities. For example, tracking genes associated with certain types of cancer to improve treatment, or using commuter travel patterns to devise public transportation that is affordable and accessible for users, as well as profitable for operators.

Data is clearly a precious commodity, and the report points out that people should have greater control over the use of their personal data. Broadly speaking, there are three possible answers to the question “Who controls our data?”: firms, governments, or users. No global consensus yet exists on the extent to which private firms that mine data about individuals should be free to use the data for profit and to improve services.

User’s willingness to share data in return for benefits and free services – such as virtually unrestricted use of social media platforms – varies widely by country. In addition to that, early internet adopters, who grew up with the internet and are now age 30–40, are the most willing to share (GfK 2017).

Are you willing to share your data? (source: GfK 2017)


On the other hand, data can worsen the digital divide – the data poor, who leave no digital trail because they have limited access, are most at risk from exclusion from services, opportunities and rights, as are those who lack a digital ID, for instance.

Firms and Data

For private sector firms, particularly those in developing countries, the report suggests how they might expand their markets and improve their competitive edge. Companies are already developing new markets and making profits by analyzing data to better understand their customers. This is transforming conventional business models. For years, telecommunications has been funded by users paying for phone calls. Today, advertisers pay for users’ data and attention are funding the internet, social media, and other platforms, such as apps, reversing the value flow.

Governments and Data

For governments and development professionals, the report provides guidance on how they might use data more creatively to help tackle key global challenges, such as eliminating extreme poverty, promoting shared prosperity, or mitigating the effects of climate change. The first step is developing appropriate guidelines for data sharing and use, and for anonymizing personal data. Governments are already beginning to use the huge quantities of data they hold to enhance service delivery, though they still have far to go to catch up with the commercial giants, the report finds.

Data for Development

The Information and Communications for Development report analyses how the data revolution is changing the behavior of governments, individuals, and firms and how these changes affect economic, social, and cultural development. This is a topic of growing importance that cannot be ignored, and the report aims to stimulate wider debate on the unique challenges and opportunities of data for development. It will be useful for policy makers, but also for anyone concerned about how their personal data is used and how the data revolution might affect their future job prospects….(More)”.

Behavioural Insights Toolkit and Ethical Guidelines for Policy Makers

Consultation Document by the OECD: “BASIC (Behaviour, Analysis, Strategies, Intervention, and Change) is an overarching framework for applying behavioural insights to public policy from the beginning to the end of the policy cycle. It is built on five stages that guides the application of behavioural insights and is a repository of best practices, proof of concepts and methodological standards for behavioural insights practitioners and policymakers who have become interested in applying behavioural insights to public policy. Crucially, BASIC offers an approach to problem scoping that can be of relevance for any policymaker and practitioner when addressing a policy problem, be it behavioural or systemic.

The document provides an overview of the rationale, applicability and key tenets of BASIC. It walks practitioners through the five BASIC sequential stages with examples, and presents detailed ethical guidelines to be considered at each stage.

It has been developed by the OECD in partnership with Dr Pelle Guldborg Hansen of Roskilde University, Denmark. This version benefitted from feedback provided by the participants in the Western Cape Government – OECD Behavioural Insights Conference held in Cape Town on 27-28 September 2018….(More)”