Debating Europe:
How Much Transparency Does Democracy Need?

Democracy is in crisis. Citizens are deeply disillusioned with political and business elites. Many believe that more transparency would restore trust in democratic institutions and corporations as only informed citizens are able to hold politicians and CEOs accountable. However, due to the endemic spread of surveillance and social media it is the citizen who has become transparent, whereas governments, corporations and banks continue to be opaque. How can we redress this asymmetry?

The demand for more public transparency is not new. Thanks to new technologies for the collection, storage, analysis and distribution of data, radical transparency has today become feasible. But how can citizens deal with big data collected by government and business? Will more information mean more truth? Can greater transparency stop the decline of democratic participation, or will it further accelerate the erosion of trust?

These and other questions will be discussed by four experts who have dealt with the dilemmas of transparency in different parts of the world from various perspectives.

Júlia Király is head of Department at the International Business School Budapest. From 2007-2013 she was the Deputy Governor of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary), responsible for financial stability during the crisis years.

Evgeny Morozov studies the political and social implications of new technologies and is one of the most astute critics of what he calls the „Net Delusion“. His most recent book is To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.

Aruna Roy is an Indian social activist known for her efforts to fight corruption and promote government transparency. A supporter of the movement for public access to information, Roy was instrumental in the enactment of legislation in India guaranteeing the rights of citizens to scrutinize official records.

Max Schrems is an Austrian lawyer and privacy activist; he is the founder of the ‘Europe versus Facebook’ group.

Chair: Shalini Randeria is  the Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna. A sociologist and social anthropologist, she has published widely on the anthropology of globalization, law, the state and social movements.

 

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