Will the Global South overtake the North in transparency?

At a time when liberal democracies in the Global North seem increasingly paranoid and cutting down both on personal freedoms and government accountability, could nations from the Global South seize the moment to become the new pace-setters on open government?

There are plenty of good examples from Latin American, but it’s in Africa that the real changes are occurring. Yes, that’s the same Africa often stereotyped as the home of endless war, corruption, military coups and dictators. Kenya, in fact, which the pessimists were portraying as being on the brink of collapse and authoritarianism after election violence a few years ago. But now, Kenya is pushing forward with massive changes in the way its government operates with an increasing tendency towards open information and other accountability initiatives, as a Guardian story is reporting.

Cynics will argue that this is just pandering to a new urban middle class, with only 26% of Kenyans having home Internet access. However, like many countries in Africa, the communications revolution us predominantly mobile and almost 65% of Kenyans have mobile telephones and will be able to access mobile versions of the new sites.

Problems with Crowdsourcing Surveillance

Bruce Schneier has a nice little piece which is saying similar things to what I’ve been saying over the last couple of years on the subject of ‘crowdsourcing’ or opening closed-circuits of surveillance. He critiques the Internet Eyes scheme and Texas Border Watch and others. This is also the subject of the paper, ‘Opening Surveillance?’ that Aaron Martin of LSE and I presented at the S&S conference in London in April, and which will hopefully be coming out in the journal’s conference special early next year…