The Digitalization of Democracy: How Technology is Changing Government Accountability

From voting to law enforcement to social services, digitalization is transforming governance—and these changes are impacting citizens’ ability to hold public officials accountable. Cutting-edge tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) present opportunities to make governance more open, fair, and responsive, for instance, by helping watchdog institutions identify cases of corruption. Yet knowledge and oversight of new technologies themselves—often still in short supply—are critical to ensure that they do not instead chill civic activism, reinforce social inequalities, and help officials deflect responsibility. If steps are not taken to close this gap, digitalization may worsen the crisis of trust in societies already struggling with democratic backsliding.

Featuring insights from Krzysztof Izdebski (Open Spending EU Coalition; Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland), Teona Turashvili (Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information, Georgia), and Haykuhi Harutyunyan (Corruption Prevention Commission of the Republic of Armenia), this collection of essays offers new perspectives on the complex ways in which digitalization is transforming state accountability.  Surveying the risks that automation presents for democratic norms, it identifies principles and practices that can help state and civil society actors work together to ensure that the integration of next-generation technologies into government processes works in democracy’s favor. The complete collection is entitled “The Digitalization of Democracy: How Technology is Changing Government Accountability.”

On Wednesday, March 29, the International Forum hosted a virtual event marking the launch of this essay collection, featuring the report authors. Please click here to view the event recording.


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Related Essays

In the first essay, Krzysztof Izdebski explores how digital technologies such as automated decision-making systems are “becoming an integral part of the citizen-government relationship” and what this means for democracy advocates. He surveys the risks to democratic principles that can emerge from the intentional abuse and careless use of digital technologies in the public sector. Finally, he distills recommendations for cross-sectoral collaboration to ensure responsible digitalization.

The second paper, by Teona Turashvili, draws on her organization’s experience researching AI in Georgia’s public sector to highlight obstacles to transparency and accountability on this issue. Turashvili identifies gaps in AI governance that currently make it challenging for civil society organizations and officials to monitor government use of these tools effectively.

In the final essay, Haykuhi Harutyunyan of Armenia’s Corruption Prevention Commission describes the Commission’s work designing an AI-enabled digital tool that will aid in monitoring the asset declarations of public officials. Her contribution highlights the potential benefits of AI for accountable governance and discusses the experience of setting parameters, engaging with partners, and navigating privacy tradeoffs when deploying data-driven tools in the public sector.


This collection is the third in the International Forum’s “Making Tech Transparent series, which focuses on crafting transparent and participatory processes around the use of emerging technologies in politics and governance.  

Building on a sequence of cross-sectoral, cross-regional workshops, this series looks at initiatives such as smart cities, biometric surveillance tools, and algorithmic decision-making systems in a global context. Contributors address both the democracy implications of new technologies and vectors for civil society involvement in their design, deployment, and operation.

The first report in the series, The Global Struggle Over AI Surveillance: Emerging Trends and Democratic Responses (June 2022), examines the spread of AI surveillance systems, their impact, and the transnational struggle to erect guardrails that uphold democratic values. The second report, Smart Cities and Democratic Vulnerabilities (December 2022), explores how “smart city” technologies can challenge democratic systems and considers strategies for rapidly digitalizing societies to safeguard key norms.


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