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By undermining public trust and eroding societal infrastructure, corruption contributes to and is broadly indicative of widening power inequalities in many countries. The often insidious nature of corruption makes it difficult to address, and often requires substantial changes to regulation and public oversight. Transparency is an important tool in combating corruption, exposing weaknesses in governance structures and encouraging participation in governance.
GISWatch 2012 explores how the internet is being used to ensure transparency and accountability, the challenges that civil society activists face in fighting corruption, and when the internet fails as an enabler of a transparent and fair society.
The theme for this year’s GISWatch – “transparency and accountability with a focus on corruption” – is for some a difficult one. At least two country report authors withdrew from participating in this year’s publication because of the consequences they could face locally from singling out specific acts of corruption in their countries. This is telling. It suggests that to consider ICTs and corruption directly is to put the spotlight more narrowly on what governments or businesses or state authorities are actually doing – and this can, as some authors contend, be risky.