Week 4: Open government and public values

Week 4: Open government and public values

Introduction to week 4 … Open government and transparency … Open government and participation … Privacy preserving strategies in Open Government
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  • Week 4: Open government and public values > 4.1 Open government and transparency
  • Week 4: Open government and public values > 4.2 Open government and participation > Video 4.2
  • Week 4: Open government and public values > 4.3 Privacy preserving strategies in Open Government > Video 4.3

Week 4: Open government and public values > 4.1 Open government and transparency

  • Welcome to this lecture about transparency and open government! Governments are stewards of public money, responsible for allocating it to the societal priorities.
  • For this, transparency is a condition and one of the most important pillars of open government.
  • The importance of transparency is indisputable and has been highlighted due to its particular importance for Open Government.
  • Transparency is a necessary condition for enabling participation in policy-making.
  • Although we agree that transparency is needed, many people use the term ‘transparency’ loosely and there is no agreement on how to create transparency.
  • You should be able to describe the concept of transparency and elements influencing transparency.
  • In particular, you should be able to describe: what is transparency, information asymmetry and transparency-by-design, the main factors influencing the level of transparency, and the relationship with accountability and trust.
  • The creation of transparency requires trade-offs, and creating complete transparency is often not feasible.
  • That’s what makes this concept so complex, but also interesting! What is transparency? Look at this picture.
  • Transparency is dependent on the stakeholders’ viewpoint.
  • Transparency is an ill-defined concept and understood in different ways.
  • There are narrow and broad definitions of transparency.
  • In contrast, our focus is on data‐driven transparency.
  • From a utility-driven view, transparency can simply be viewed as “the ability to find out what is going on inside a public organization”.
  • A fundamental concept for understanding transparency is information asymmetry.
  • We should therefore always talk about the level of transparency.
  • Many initiatives fail to deliver transparency, because simply making data available does not result in transparency.
  • The concept of transparency is even more blurred, as the work of government is performed by many organizations, and creating an overview is not easy.
  • Luckily, there is often no need for full transparency it is important to be aware of the limitations.
  • Even presenting conflicting views can contribute to more transparency, as awareness is created and thereafter questions can be asked.
  • To create transparency, data is necessary, but not sufficient.
  • By providing an overview of some of the factors, I hope you get an understanding how difficult and challenging it is to create transparency.
  • So what is the relationship between transparency, accountability and trust? Trust is the foundation for any relationship, and also for the relationship between the government and the public.
  • The importance of transparency as a way of building trust is highlighted in open government ambitions.
  • Creating transparency should show that governments are not hiding anything.
  • In which case, public servants might become reluctant to create full transparency.
  • Transparency can result in more or less trust.
  • Transparency and accountability are often used synonymously, whereas they are not.
  • Transparency is a condition for accountability it is rarely a sufficient condition for accountability.
  • Accountability requires transparency on how resources are used and decisions are made.
  • In open government, the pairing of transparency and accountability is more difficult as there is no formal assessment and measures available to the public.
  • Transparency can help the public to place issues on the agenda.
  • The creation of transparency requires making trade-offs.
  • The factors influencing the level of transparency should be taken into account.
  • Ideally, mechanisms for creating transparency are integrated in the heart of the government.
  • The development of transparency is a balance between feasibility and desirability.
  • Only a certain level of transparency can be created.
  • Releasing all data might not be entirely necessary to realize the desired level of transparency.
  • Full transparency is often viewed as the ideal, but is often neither possible nor desirable.
  • Finally, the question is: who is a transparent situation created for? For those who have the knowledge and time to use it? Or is the aim to create ‘transparency at a glance’ in which anybody with a secondary school diploma and a few minutes could understand the situation? In conclusion, transparency is a complex phenomenon, which cannot be easily accomplished.

Week 4: Open government and public values > 4.2 Open government and participation > Video 4.2

  • My research is focused on open government, open data, and citizen participation.
  • In this video we will talk about how open government can create value for citizens and support citizen participation.
  • In a democracy, citizens can participate in the work of government and influence policies which directly affect them.
  • Open government can provide new innovative ways for citizens to participate and have more influence over government decisions.
  • This video relates to analyzing and discussing public values and best practices related to open government.
  • More specifically, we will focus on how open government and citizen participation are related; on the examples of open government cases supporting participation; and on the benefits and barriers to citizen participation.
  • The philosophy of open government is to harness the “wisdom of the crowds” for solving complex problems, and citizens are an important source of such wisdom.
  • We therefore define citizen participation as mechanisms which citizens use to participate and influence public policies and services.
  • Citizens can use these portals directly to search, analyze, and visualize datasets and to discuss their findings with others.
  • Open data empowers you as a citizen to be better informed about what government decides and provides – such as for example choose a better school or healthcare facility, understand where public money is spent, or be aware of environmental problems in your area.
  • By collaborating with the public, politicians can create policies which are more innovative, creative, and responsive to citizens’ needs.
  • This initiative brings together citizens, policymakers, scientists, and other experts, to discuss complex science and technology issues, such as the use of human embryos in research.
  • Besides participating in the design of policies, citizens also can help governments implement existing laws and regulations.
  • In addition to opening up decision-making, open government offers opportunities for citizens to influence and contribute to how public services are provided.
  • Hackathons, on the other hand, can be used to attract tech-savvy and creative citizens to help government develop new innovations such as apps.
  • Citizens can participate in different dimensions of open government – use open data to make more informed decisions, get involved in the design and implementation of policies, and participate in the design and implementation of public services.
  • We discussed such innovative participation mechanisms as open data portals, public dialogue, citizen reporting, and hackathons.
  • Although citizen participation can help improve and innovate public policies and services, involving citizens in open government is not easy.
  • There are a number of challenges to citizen participation – in brief, we need to scale up and make citizen participation in open government more mainstream.

Week 4: Open government and public values > 4.3 Privacy preserving strategies in Open Government > Video 4.3

  • The decision to open governments and governmental data should take into consideration the impact this has on citizens’ privacy.
  • A lot of studies have flagged the possibility of privacy violation when publishing government data openly, due to: the leakage or exposure of real identities when linking different data sources together.
  • Before publishing the data, organizations are asked to remove any identifying information from the data, which is known as anonymization.
  • Some studies in anonymization techniques show that anonymized data can still be de-anonymized and hence real identities can be revoked.
  • In open government, real identities can be revoked due to the possibility of linking data together.
  • Another privacy threat in open government is the loss of control over the data.
  • Once submitted online, governments cannot predict who will be using the data and for what purposes.
  • Data use can then result in undesired situations, such as one in which a data user identifies sensitive personal medical information.
  • Two researchers were able to identify users in the Netflix reviews with their data from sites such as the Internet movie database, a source for movie, TV and celebrity content.
  • Among these strategies are: data anonymization, changing quasi-identifiers, removing sensitive data, and publishing non-personal data only.
  • In order to understand the four strategies, consider the case of publishing data about three users: Joe, Bob and Jan. Four data types are shown; user identities, quasi-identifiers, sensitive data and non-personal data.
  • The first strategy, Data Anonymization, represents the most common approach that is required for privacy preservation.
  • Governmental agencies adhere to the European data directives and data protection laws.
  • Despite the aim that anonymized data makes users’ identities untraceable, user identities can still be revoked by other data types known as Quasi-identifiers.
  • Examples of such data attributes are age, gender, and zip code.
  • If there is sensitive data, such as data about medical diseases, this data needs to be protected as well.
  • This is needed for some types of data or if we are not sure that the before-mentioned measures remove privacy leakage and exposure risks.

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