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OGP in the News – Week of January 9, 2017

Jacqueline McGraw|

A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world.

In Brazil, controversy over the ethics of transparency came to a head in a debate covered by Brazilian weekly Época about whether or not data from the country’s Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) should be made public. Renato Morgado, an employee of the forest conservation NGO, Imaflora, who participated in the 2016 OGP Global Summit in Paris, argued that, because they serve a “socio-environmental function,” the CAR data are of public interest. The National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA), in contrast, claimed that disclosing such information would be a breach of privacy for the rural property owners whose land is listed in the registry.

Meanwhile, the release of South Africa’s most recent End-of-Term IRM report inspired a rather critical reflection on the country’s performance during its newly-ended tenure as OGP government co-chair. Featured in both the independent media outlet The Conversation and South African political weekly Mail & Guardian, the opinion piece’s author, Fola Adeleke, pointed to recent protests over inadequate service delivery, higher education fees, and widespread concern about “state capture” (the pooling of state resources to benefit the economic elite), as well as South Africa’s failure to complete any of  its 2013-2015 commitments as evidence of South Africa’s “public accountability deficit.”

On a more positive note for South Africa, the University of Pretoria touted the success of five of its students who won the 2016 Responsive Cities Challenge—an initiative organized by OGP South Africa, the Open Data Institute (ODI), and a number of other partners—to encourage “[using] available open data from various cities across South Africa to develop applications, stories and visualisations that can help residents work better with local government.” Team Apex came in first place for designing a “web-based business intelligence warning system” called VivaImpilo. It seems the interest from youth in open government is only growing, which is great news for 2017.

Left-leaning online French newspaper Contrepoints published an opinion piece about a government decree introduced in November 2016 aimed at preventing identity fraud through the creation of a centralized database (Titres électroniques sécurisés, or TES) that would contain the biometric data of some 60 million French citizens. The article revisited privacy and security concerns raised in a November communiqué from the Conseil National du Numérique, which criticized the French government for passing the decree without any public consultation, and undermining the message of transparency just one month out from hosting the 2016 OGP Summit. Also in Europe, Kommune21 ran an article citing Germany’s recent membership in OGP is a sign of increased support for the country’s adoption of more open data and e-government measures.

In other news, Dutch technology magazine CIO picked up the exit memo left for U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump by Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Head of the Office of Science and Technology John Holdren, which referenced OGP in Article 9 among advice for continued investment in open government reform. Military Technologies News republished John Kerry’s exit memo, in which the U.S. Secretary of State also mentioned OGP, praising President Obama’s leadership in the “international platform for reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.”

And last but not least, if you are seeking some open gov inspiration for the new year, you might just find some in the poetic words of Vincent Avanzi recited during the closing ceremony of #OGP16:

Jean Cocteau once said “the poet remembers the future” and that wasn’t wishful thinking.
So welcome to a new era of the world wide web called the World Wide Win Win.

Why have we forgotten that in the word ‘Humanity’ lies the very hidden letters of ‘unity’?
And why couldn’t we possibly renew our democracies and co-create an inclusive world of harmony?
Sign a partnership to infinity, to embark on a wonderful human journey
Designed as our Masterpiece, born from our intimate collective dreams
Out of all 7 billion citizens across the globe, which is still THE single largest entity: the civil society.

Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to


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