This session examined the capacity of hyper-connected digital technologies to enhance government surveillance and control, alongside the potential impact of these technologies on democratic an authoritarian regimes. Discussion referenced the importance of legally prohibiting governments from demanding other organisations release personal data without due process. The role of online activism in transforming the future landscape of political activity and participation, as well as the impact of open government and transparency initiatives were explored. Consideration was also given to the challenges of multi-jurisdictional Internet regulation and the future role of online privacy and anonymity tools in an environment where sophisticated tracking and data correlation techniques can be used to de-anonymize personal data (and potentially engage in price discrimination). Open government data and services will require more robust and professionalised information management skills – and should be demand-driven as opposed to just supply-driven. Finally, online engagement with the public poses challenges in terms of accurately identifying eligible electors, but also offers benefits through the political empowerment of diaspora communities, support for evidence-based policy making and a mechanism for disseminating authoritative information on climate change, health, welfare and education.

Specific questions for further discussion

(links take you to the relevant forum subtopic):

Q1: Will a future crisis of trust and confidence in the online world undermine the social, political and economic benefits of the Internet?

Q2: Can governments prevent the private sector from engaging in price discrimination against individuals using advanced commercial profiling techniques?

Q3: Online public engagement with government - more evidence-based policy making - or greater influence for vocal online minorities?

Link to main discussion topic: