New Tool in Fighting Corruption: Open Data
Why We Welcome the G20 Open Data Principles
Yesterday in Brisbane, the G20 threw its weight behind open data by featuring it prominently in the G20 Anti-Corruption working action plan. Specifically, the action plan calls for effort in three related areas:
- Prepare a G20 compendium of good practices and lessons learned on open data and its application in the fight against corruption.
- Prepare G20 Open Data Principles, including identifying areas or sectors where their application is particularly useful
- Complete self‑assessments of G20 country open data frameworks and initiatives
Open data describes information that is not simply public, but that has been published in a manner that makes it easy to access and easy to compare and connect with other information.
This matters for anti corruption – if you are a journalist or a civil society activist investigating bribery and corruption those connections are everything. They tell you that an anonymous person (e.g. ‘Mr Smith’) who owns an obscure company registered in a tax haven is linked to a another company that has been illegally exporting timber from a neighboring country. That the said Mr. Smith is also the son-in-law of the mining minister of yet another country, who herself has been accused of embezzling mining revenues. As we have written elsewhere on this blog, investigative journalists, prosecution authorities, and civil society groups all need access to this linked data for their work.
The action plan also links open data to the wider G20 agenda, citing its impact on the ability of businesses to make better investment decisions. You can find the full detail here.
In June, we published “Open for Business: How the open data can help achieve the G20 growth target” and argued that open data cut across a number of this year’s G20 priorities: attracting private infrastructure investment, creating jobs and lifting participation, strengthening tax systems and fighting corruption.
We are delighted to see the G20 take this important next step and that open data is now on the G20 agenda for the next two years. This builds on the G8 Open Data Charter, which was announced last year during the UK G8 presidency, and is a clear indication that open data has now come of age and to the attention of heads of state across the globe.