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Open Government Data for Open Accountability

Open Government Data for Open Accountability

Felipe Heusser, Berkman Center Fellow

Tuesday, February 7, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, Second Floor

Over the past decade 'transparency' has become one of those key words in the debates on modern governance. A pervasive cliché captured by the rhetoric of politics, which has raised 'transparency' as a perfect paracetamol to potentially remedy problems as diverse as accountability, growth, public service delivery and participation. For years, the cornerstone of transparency policies has been the 'Freedom of Information Act', a regulation that since the mid 1960's has spread from 3 to nearly 80 countries around the globe, but which maybe increasingly gaining obsolesce in the context of the digital age.

Open Government Data policy, is the latest chapter of the transparency story. It is moving the paradigm from 'access to public documentation' (FOIA) towards 'access to public data', avoiding obsolesce, and keeping up to date our right to access public information that increasingly flows through a digital ecosystem.

Though the implementation of Open Data policies is likely to impact a diverse variety of sectors, 'accountability' is certainly one of the main domains of impact. The bursting rise and spread of online accountability tools and watch-dogs such as the Sunlight Foundation (US.), MySociety (UK), Ushahidi (Kenya), and Ciudadano Inteligente (Chile), are good examples of how the web is creating a more powerful sort of  open and crowd sourced accountability. More eyes now rest upon government, the question is 'how' (if) does this matter.

The talk will quickly overview the spread of transparency policy through freedom of information regulation, and point out to the rise of 'Open Government Data' as the latest chapter of the transparency story, highlighting how it potentially may impact 'open accountability' and the rise of a new breed of online watchdogs.

About Felipe

Felipe is the Founder and Director of Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, a Latin American NGO based in Chile that uses information technology to promote transparency and active citizen participation. He graduated as a Lawyer from the P. Universidad Católica (Chile) and holds a Master degree in Public Policy from the London School of Economics (UK), where he is also a PhD Candidate in Government with research in the field of Freedom of Information, Regulation, and Internet Technology. Felipe is also an Ashoka Fellow for the News and Knowledge program, and achieves work experience in both the Chilean NGO and Government sectors, working for Un Techo para Chile, and both Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour. In 2010, he organized the first Personal Democracy Forum for Latin America, and currently coordinates the Open Data research project for Latin America in collaboration with IDRC, ECLAC (UN) and W3C.

As a Berkman Fellow at Harvard University, Felipe’s research aims to bridge the relationship of traditional Freedom of Information regulation with recent-born open data policies, highlighting how this relationship changes according to the habitat where these policies are embedded.


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Past Event
Feb 7, 2012
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM