Transparency for Democracy: The Case of Open Government Data

Privacy, Security, and Accountability: Ethics, Law, and Policy Adam Moore, editor. Rowman and Littlefield International, 2015

29 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2017

Date Written: July 1, 2015

Abstract

"Transparency" has become a buzzword in national and international discussions of good governance. One transparency initiative is Open Government Data (OGD), where almost all data possessed by governments is made freely available on the Internet. OGD is frequently championed on the grounds that transparency is essential to democracy. The claimed connection between transparency and democracy is rarely argued for, however. In this paper, I provide a defense of OGD from the perspective of two prominent normative theories of democracy. I then note a potential objection to this defense — viz., both rational choice theory and empirical evidence suggest that the existence of available information will not necessarily translate to the public being more informed. After considering how the democracy argument for transparency can be adjusted to meet this objection, I make some suggestions for how it might be more effective.

Keywords: transparency, government data, open data, open government data, democracy, access to information

Suggested Citation

Mathiesen, Kay, Transparency for Democracy: The Case of Open Government Data (July 1, 2015). Privacy, Security, and Accountability: Ethics, Law, and Policy Adam Moore, editor. Rowman and Littlefield International, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2937418

Kay Mathiesen (Contact Author)

Kay Mathiesen ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

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