Part 1 – What is a Democratic Information State?

Part 1 - Democratic Information State

Democratic information states are information gourmets and information philanthropists.(144) Like gourmets they collect and collate only the information they need to ensure efficient government and national security.(145) They do not keep tabs on citizens without justifiable reasons; they create a regular system of checks and procedures to avoid abuse.(146) They stop collecting information when it is no longer needed and they discard information at regular intervals to protect privacy.(147) When it is impossible or impractical to destroy information – for example, because it is stored redundantly in many different locations – democratic information states strictly regulate its subsequent use.(148) If the information state is unable to forget, it is imperative that it be able to forgive.(149)

Democratic information states are also information philanthropists because they willingly distribute much valuable information they create to the public, in the form of education, scientific research, and agricultural and medical information.(150) They allow the public access to information about their laws and their decision-making processes so that the public can hold government officials accountable if they act illegally or arbitrarily or are corrupt or inefficient.(151) They avoid secret laws and secret proceedings except where absolutely necessary.(152) Democratic states recognize that access and disclosure help prevent individual privacy because surveillance encourages abuses of power and inhibits freedom and democratic participation.(153) Thus being an information gourmet and an information philanthropist are also connected: both help keep governments open and responsible to citizens; both further individual autonomy and democracy by respecting privacy and promoting access to knowledge.(154)

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