The impact of Open Data on the fight against corruption.

Project duration: 2014 > 2015

Partners: Rissc – Institut für Confliktforschung – University of Oxford – Blomeyer & Sanz – University of Nottingham – Transparency International Uk – Transparency International Italy

Website: www.tacod.eu

Eu_flag_web  Tacod is a project co-funded under the programme “Prevention of and Fight against Crime” of the European Union

How open data can be really effective

Corruption remains one of the biggest challenges for any society, as it cheats on market rules, becoming every day more sophisticated, organised, and transnational. Open Data is assumed to reduce corruption in two main ways. First, by providing more evidence that increase the rate of detection of corruption. Second, by increasing accountability of individuals that will deter corruption, so that fewer cases of corruption occur.

‘transparency in public affairs is superior to secrecy by almost
any normative standard or moral perspective’ (Licht, 2014: 311).

But increasing transparency on the public sector is argued to be “the best way to fight corruption”. Bauhr and Grimes (2013) found that transparency only reduces corruption if it improves accountability and some types of data are relevant for countering corruption while others are not. Worthy (2013), argues that the impact of Open Data depends very much on the way in which it is used by intermediaries, such as the media, civil society and parliament.

Corruption is defined as the abuse of public power for private gain, but Open Data sometimes reveals practices which are not necessarily illegal, but may be regarded as improper or shameful, and that this also represents an important form of regulatory power. For sure Open Data may reveal contentious practices and help to build trust in and integrity of public institutions.

As a consequence the biggest trade-off of all is between the interests of individual politicians, parties and interest groups in avoiding opening up everything that they do to public scrutiny and the liberal democratic principle that citizens have a right to know what their governors are doing.