Open Global Data: A Threat Or Saviour For Democracy

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Presentation given at OKCON (Open Knowledge Conference) 2011 by Chris Taggart, June 30, 2011.
Explores whether and how open data can be used as a tool for strengthening democracy, using corporate

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  • If the first point was largely about the temporaral world, and the disappearance of those boundaries, this is about the spatial world, and the breakdown of the artificial boundaries \n
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  • This is an area I’m particularly interested in, but I’m sure the same story is played out in a similar way with spatial data, or laws, or many other areas.\n
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  • Open Global Data: A Threat Or Saviour For Democracy

    1. 1. Global Open Data A threat or a saviour for democracy? Chris Taggart, OKCON 2011, Berlin
    2. 2. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture
    3. 3. Me: Chris Taggart @countcultureDeveloper of OpenlyLocal, opening up local governmentinformation since 2009. 150 councils, 10,000 councillors,2 million payments, £12 billion – all open data
    4. 4. Me: Chris Taggart @countcultureDeveloper of OpenlyLocal, opening up local governmentinformation since 2009. 150 councils, 10,000 councillors,2 million payments, £12 billion – all open dataDeveloper of OpenCharities
    5. 5. Me: Chris Taggart @countcultureDeveloper of OpenlyLocal, opening up local governmentinformation since 2009. 150 councils, 10,000 councillors,2 million payments, £12 billion – all open dataDeveloper of OpenCharitiesMember of UK Local Public Data Panel
    6. 6. Me: Chris Taggart @countcultureDeveloper of OpenlyLocal, opening up local governmentinformation since 2009. 150 councils, 10,000 councillors,2 million payments, £12 billion – all open dataDeveloper of OpenCharitiesMember of UK Local Public Data PanelCo-founder & CEO of OpenCorporates
    7. 7. Democracyin theascendant?
    8. 8. Perhaps. But is it also under threat?http://publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com/2007/11/guy-fawkes.html
    9. 9. 3 big changes: (thanks to the internet & technology)
    10. 10. 1 Massive in friction reductionhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/barelypodcasting/4899486065
    11. 11. Friction underpins society aswe know it
    12. 12. Friction underpins society aswe know it Many (most?) industries and business models are based on it, leading to intermediaries, such as from real-estate to electronics stores to the recorded music industry
    13. 13. Friction underpins society aswe know it Many (most?) industries and business models are based ED EDIATsuch as from real-estate on it, leading SINTERM DI to intermediaries, to electronics stores to the recorded music industry
    14. 14. Friction underpins society aswe know it Many (most?) industries and business models are based ED EDIATsuch as from real-estate on it, leading SINTERM DI to intermediaries, to electronics stores to the recorded music industry Privacy existed largely by dint of the difficulty of combining information, allowing us to live multiple separate lives, and the ability for our past to be forgotten
    15. 15. Friction underpins society aswe know it Many (most?) industries and business models are based ED EDIATsuch as from real-estate on it, leading SINTERM DI to intermediaries, to electronics stores to the recorded music industry Privacy existed largely by dint of the difficulty of combining information,GLY SC us allowing ARtoE multiple C live NCR EASIN ability for our past to be separate Ilives, and the forgotten
    16. 16. Friction underpins society aswe know it Many (most?) industries and business models are based ED EDIATsuch as from real-estate on it, leading SINTERM DI to intermediaries, to electronics stores to the recorded music industry Privacy existed largely by dint of the difficulty of combining information,GLY SC us allowing ARtoE multiple C live NCR EASIN ability for our past to be separate Ilives, and the forgotten Gives power to incumbents, but allows multiple competitors to exist, both in time and space (different countries have their own industries)
    17. 17. Friction underpins society aswe know it Many (most?) industries and business models are based ED EDIATsuch as from real-estate on it, leading SINTERM DI to intermediaries, to electronics stores to the recorded music industry Privacy existed largely by dint of the difficulty of combining information,GLY SC us allowing ARtoE multiple C live NCR EASIN ability for our past to be separate Ilives, and the forgotten Gives power to incumbents, but allows multiple competitors to exist, both OPOLY PER CTOR? SE(different ON LOBAL ) MON in time and space E (Ghave their own industries) countries
    18. 18. And our democraciesdepend on friction http://www.flickr.com/photos/68259253@N00/2393999700
    19. 19. And our democraciesdepend on frictionRepresentative democracy is based on it– politicians are elected for a given term http://www.flickr.com/photos/68259253@N00/2393999700
    20. 20. And our democraciesdepend on frictionRepresentative democracy is based on it– politicians are elected for a given termThe balance of power between the armsof government is a balance betweenvarying degrees of friction (e.g. differentterms for House, Senate, Supreme Court) http://www.flickr.com/photos/68259253@N00/2393999700
    21. 21. And our democraciesdepend on frictionRepresentative democracy is based on it– politicians are elected for a given termThe balance of power between the armsof government is a balance betweenvarying degrees of friction (e.g. differentterms for House, Senate, Supreme Court)It takes time to pass laws (not necessarilya bad thing), and constitutional changes aredeliberately full of friction. But... almost impossible tolegislate intelligently in fast changing area (IP, data, http://www.flickr.com/photos/68259253@N00/2393999700
    22. 22. The corporate world dealswith friction every day
    23. 23. The corporate world dealswith friction every dayFriction protects incumbents. Making it easier to switchmobile phone providers == reducing friction for theuser
    24. 24. The corporate world dealswith friction every dayFriction protects incumbents. Making it easier to switchmobile phone providers == reducing friction for theuserReducing friction allows you to deliver more for less,reducing times, cost, increasing efficiency, with dataunderlying all this
    25. 25. The corporate world dealswith friction every dayFriction protects incumbents. Making it easier to switchmobile phone providers == reducing friction for theuserReducing friction allows you to deliver more for less,reducing times, cost, increasing efficiency, with dataunderlying all thisGovernment regulations, tax, social benefits are allincreases in friction that many companies will do theirbest to overcome
    26. 26. But we know how theinternet deals with friction
    27. 27. But we know how theinternet deals with friction Friction == blockage (and the internet routes around blockages).
    28. 28. But we know how theinternet deals with friction Friction == blockage (and the internet routes around blockages). The corporate world in many ways prefigured the internet’s architecture – routing around blockages.
    29. 29. But we know how theinternet deals with friction Friction == blockage (and the internet routes around blockages). The corporate world in many ways prefigured the internet’s architecture – routing around blockages. And that’s true for the modern world too, as ideas, memes, money, all cross the world before the public realm has even noticed, still less had time to act.
    30. 30. 2 are failing Jurisdictionshttp://www.davidhammerstein.com/article-acta-images-via-bansky-adapted-48287542.html
    31. 31. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination
    32. 32. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Publish everywhere and nowhere?
    33. 33. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Publish everywhere and nowhere? Is BP really a British company (more US than UK shareholders)?
    34. 34. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Publish everywhere and nowhere? Is BP really a British company (more US than UK shareholders)? Who has jurisdiction over Twitter, Facebook, Baidu?
    35. 35. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Publish everywhere and nowhere? Is BP really a British company (more US than UK shareholders)? Who has jurisdiction over Twitter, Facebook, Baidu? How can a company be audited (for tax) when key parts are hidden in tax havens, opaque corporate structures?
    36. 36. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Publish everywhere and nowhere? Is BP really a British company (more US than UK shareholders)? Who has jurisdiction over Twitter, Facebook, Baidu? How can a company be audited (for tax) when key parts are hidden in tax havens, opaque corporate structures? Do we have selective jurisdiction applied in certain places & certain people (ACTA, rendition, tax)?
    37. 37. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination
    38. 38. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Corporate world long realised that jurisdictions are just a form of friction... and can be lubricated. Race to the bottom for regulation and taxes (been going on since at least the 19th century)
    39. 39. Jurisdiction failure Note: failure, not elimination Corporate world long realised that jurisdictions are just a form of friction... and can be lubricated. Race to the bottom for regulation and taxes (been going on since at least the 19th century) What does a jurisdiction mean when we’re talking about open data – what is the the applicable law/jurisdiction for a piece of open data published by the US government about a UK company & referring to a German individual?
    40. 40. 3(Low-friction)data is power
    41. 41. Ability to use data is critical 3 main barriers: access, rights, understanding.
    42. 42. Ability to use data is critical 3 main barriers: access, rights, understanding. Access: Can you get hold of the data... and if you’re an incumbent can you prevent others doing the same to gain a competitive advantage (commonly by having the data you are buying priced out of their reach)
    43. 43. Ability to use data is critical 3 main barriers: access, rights, understanding. Access: Can you get hold of the data... and if you’re an incumbent can you prevent others doing the same to gain a competitive advantage (commonly by having the data you are buying priced out of their reach) Rights: Do you have the rights to use this data, combine it with other data, pass it on to others, work in a collaborative, distributed way?
    44. 44. Ability to use data is critical 3 main barriers: access, rights, understanding. Access: Can you get hold of the data... and if you’re an incumbent can you prevent others doing the same to gain a competitive advantage (commonly by having the data you are buying priced out of their reach) Rights: Do you have the rights to use this data, combine it with other data, pass it on to others, work in a collaborative, distributed way? Understanding: Do you have the ability and processes to actually do something with the data
    45. 45. Big problem for government(& us)... despite the hugeamount of data they hold
    46. 46. Big problem for government(& us)... despite the hugeamount of data they holdThey see data like this
    47. 47. Big problem for government(& us)... despite the hugeamount of data they holdThey see data like this ...or maybe this
    48. 48. They work like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyjcase/4092410854
    49. 49. And been persuaded torestrict access to the peoplefor a few dollars
    50. 50. Information is the currencyof democracy Thomas Jefferson
    51. 51. A TA is the currencyInformation Dof democracy Thomas Jefferson
    52. 52. So, can open data help?
    53. 53. So, can open data help?Gives the community a foothold, skin in the game
    54. 54. So, can open data help?Gives the community a foothold, skin in the gameAllows government to make those walls that separate itfrom the people permeable, the ‘open’ in ‘open data’
    55. 55. So, can open data help?Gives the community a foothold, skin in the gameAllows government to make those walls that separate itfrom the people permeable, the ‘open’ in ‘open data’Allows retooling of government to take advantage ofdata, removing silos, ending the culture of monolithicprojects, loosening hierarchies
    56. 56. So, can open data help?Gives the community a foothold, skin in the gameAllows government to make those walls that separate itfrom the people permeable, the ‘open’ in ‘open data’Allows retooling of government to take advantage ofdata, removing silos, ending the culture of monolithicprojects, loosening hierarchiesAllows the data to straddle to cross nationalboundaries – essential with environmental, lobbying,economic, development, corporate data
    57. 57. Yes, but it’s no silver bullet http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4160817135/
    58. 58. Yes, but it’s no silver bullet With the wrong licence the community will be hobbled http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4160817135/
    59. 59. Yes, but it’s no silver bullet With the wrong licence the community will be hobbled They will be outgunned & outspent, so will need powerful network effects http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4160817135/
    60. 60. Yes, but it’s no silver bullet With the wrong licence the community will be hobbled They will be outgunned & outspent, so will need powerful network effects Having a government that understands data is not without its risk, unless there are democratic safeguards http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4160817135/
    61. 61. Yes, but it’s no silver bullet With the wrong licence the community will be hobbled They will be outgunned & outspent, so will need powerful network effects Having a government that understands data is not without its risk, unless there are democratic safeguards Where is the democratic oversight over the ‘community’, the digerati, non-profits, OKF? http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4160817135/
    62. 62. Yes, but it’s no silver bullet With the wrong licence the community will be hobbled They will be outgunned & outspent, so will need powerful network effects Having a government that understands data is not without its risk, unless there are democratic safeguards Where is the democratic oversight over the ‘community’, the digerati, non-profits, OKF? What about national cultural norms, especially privacy? Do they just strengthen proprietary databases? http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4160817135/
    63. 63. A concrete example: company data
    64. 64. Potted history of the companyhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    65. 65. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the statehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    66. 66. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the statehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    67. 67. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the state In 19th century states decided to allow people to set up companies (previously it took an act of law)http://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    68. 68. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the state In 19th century states decided to allow people to set up companies (previously it took an act of law)http://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    69. 69. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the state In 19th century states decided to allow people to set up companies (previously it took an act of law) These would have to be registered, and publish information about their finances and structurehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    70. 70. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the state In 19th century states decided to allow people to set up companies (previously it took an act of law) These would have to be registered, and publish information about their finances and structure That’s when the fun started... and the hackers got involvedhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    71. 71. Potted history of the company Always tensions between the corporate world and the state In 19th century states decided to allow people to set up companies (previously it took an act of law) These would have to be registered, and publish information about their finances and structure That’s when the fun started... and the hackers got involvedhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/oldeyankee/2720102926; http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddwickersty/2230065901
    72. 72. [digression] Hackers?
    73. 73. [digression] Hackers? Without doubt the world’s most successful, best rewarded, and skilled hackers in the world are corporate tax lawyers.
    74. 74. [digression] Hackers? Without doubt the world’s most successful, best rewarded, and skilled hackers in the world are corporate tax lawyers. Make the rules work for them – within days of a new rules (tax code) being issued, they’ve figured out a way to game them to their (clients’) advantage.
    75. 75. [digression] Hackers? Without doubt the world’s most successful, best rewarded, and skilled hackers in the world are corporate tax lawyers. Make the rules work for them – within days of a new rules (tax code) being issued, they’ve figured out a way to game them to their (clients’) advantage. Unlimited access to simple but powerful tools – cost not a problem.
    76. 76. [digression] Hackers? Without doubt the world’s most successful, best rewarded, and skilled hackers in the world are corporate tax lawyers. Make the rules work for them – within days of a new rules (tax code) being issued, they’ve figured out a way to game them to their (clients’) advantage. Unlimited access to simple but powerful tools – cost not a problem. Agile, highly focused, amoral, able to understand and work multiple systems (jurisdictions) simultaneously
    77. 77. [digression] Hackers? Without doubt the world’s most successful, best rewarded, and skilled hackers in the world are corporate tax lawyers. Make the rules work for them – within days of a new rules (tax code) being issued, they’ve figured out a way to game them to their (clients’) advantage. Unlimited access to simple but powerful tools – cost not a problem. Agile, highly focused, amoral, able to understand and work multiple systems (jurisdictions) simultaneously More or less untouchable by the law.
    78. 78. Always a slightly unequalbattle, but at least arguablycomparable when...
    79. 79. ...companieslooked likethis
    80. 80. ...and sharecertificateslike this http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/418938142
    81. 81. ...andcompanyreportslookedlike this(i.e. on paper) Actually they still do to ordinary users and the government, and that’s (one of) the problems
    82. 82. Massive asymmetry ofinformation.Even bigger asymmetry offriction (for governments,community, SMEs,innovators...)
    83. 83. Is this important?What does governmentcollect about companies,anyway?
    84. 84. Is this important?What does governmentcollect about companies,anyway?
    85. 85. The ‘companies’ are justwords
    86. 86. Notconnectedto the mostimportantdata of all...Company Registries:The data that defines the corporate entity
    87. 87. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number
    88. 88. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962
    89. 89. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 Create a monopoly ID system
    90. 90. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 Create a monopoly ID system
    91. 91. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 Create a monopoly ID system Get governments around the world to use it instead of the company IDs they created themselves...
    92. 92. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 Create a monopoly ID system Get governments around the world to use it instead of the company IDs they created themselves... Persuade them to integrate deeply into their systems, & thus do the selling for you
    93. 93. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 Create a monopoly ID system Get governments around the world to use it instead of the company IDs they created themselves... Persuade them to integrate deeply into their systems, & thus do the selling for you
    94. 94. [Anotherdigression] The DUNS number Genius idea. Developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1962 Create a monopoly ID system Get governments around the world to use it instead of the company IDs they created themselves... Persuade them to integrate deeply into their systems, & thus do the selling for you Assert your IP so that they can’t use it freely (as in free speech)
    95. 95. If you don’tthink thisaffects yourlife, you’veslept throughthe past fewyears http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronjacobs/64368770
    96. 96. [quick plug] OpenCorporates
    97. 97. A url for every company inthe worldBased on the company number and jurisdiction(no monopoly id)
    98. 98. A url for every company inthe worldBased on the company number and jurisdiction(no monopoly id)
    99. 99. A url for every company inthe worldBased on the company number and jurisdiction(no monopoly id)
    100. 100. Google Refine reconciliationservice
    101. 101. We’ve got data too
    102. 102. We’ve got data too
    103. 103. All openly licensed
    104. 104. All openly licensed
    105. 105. So what does this all mean? Hint: everything I needed to know about Open Data I learned from Open Source
    106. 106. It’s all about the licence Otherwise a two-stage world: the data-haves, and the data-have-nots
    107. 107. Even then, it’s going to betough for democracy And it possibly won’t look like the one we have today

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