The Informational Commons at Risk (Working Paper 8)
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Conventional wisdom says that we are on the cusp of a Global Information Society, in which new technologies will provide citizens with unprecedented access to information. This is an appealing but flawed vision of the future. Governments are still reluctant to disclose information about core functions. At the same time, neoliberal reforms have caused a diffusion of power across sectors and borders, confounding efforts to promote governmental openness. Economic liberalization has also made it more difficult to enforce corporate disclosure requirements. Meanwhile, technological change has spurred efforts by businesses and citizens to strengthen their control over corporate and personal information. Efforts to defend the borders of the “informational commons” — the domain of publicly-accessible information — will be also be complicated by problems of policy design and political mobilization. Imposing transparency requirements was easier when authority was closely held by national and sub-national governments. The task is more difficult when power is widely diffused.