Bitcoin has failed to live up to the hype that it would democratize finance by enabling cheap, instantaneous, and secure payments that could be conducted without having to rely on stodgy old financial institutions like banks and credit card companies. And the Bitcoin network’s spiraling energy needs are truly staggering when compared to other potential uses.
CGD Policy Blogs
Relying on biased information undermines the effectiveness of evidence-based policymaking. A potential source of bias in many datasets is that most of the world’s data scientists—i.e., the people who collect, organize, analyze data, and make decisions—are men.
Global debates about data governance standards have primarily reflected the priorities and needs of rich countries, with less wealthy countries left in the role of “standards takers.” More needs to be done to ensure that digital governance policies pursued by the world’s largest economies do not create unintended consequences that make it harder for other countries to support a strong domestic digital economy and participate in the global digital economy.
A League of Digital Democracies: How Building Consensus on Digital Norms Would Boost the Biden Administration’s Effort to Support Democracy Abroad
President-elect Biden has stated his intention to rebuild values-based alliances and reassert the United States’ role in promoting democracy abroad. Limiting the spread of the digital authoritarianism model that China has pioneered at home and abroad will be key to this effort. To succeed, the US must rally like-minded liberal democracies around a set of principles for the digital age that promote shared prosperity and personal freedom. Failure to do so will allow countries like China and Russia to exert greater influence on the digital governance rules that other countries choose to follow.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust digital issues into the spotlight by highlighting the importance of government access to accurate and timely information for public health surveillance and accelerating the shift towards a digital-first approach in many countries, due to the need to provide services at a distance. It has also brought to the forefront difficult questions about the limits that should be placed on governments and companies that seek to use potentially sensitive data to monitor the spread of disease and target public health efforts.
While the spread of COVID-19 overshadowed the launch of the first digital strategy from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in early April, the pandemic has also highlighted its significance by calling attention to the importance of access to digital technology and accelerating the global trend towards increased reliance on digital systems.
Increased reliance on digital tools to monitor the spread of disease raises serious questions about how to prevent governments from using those same tools to track individuals for other purposes after a health crisis has subsided.
The “more and better data” movement is based on the premise that well-intentioned governments can better serve the poor and vulnerable if they have basic information about them. Until recently, this notion would have seemed uncontroversial. But growing concern about the risks created by the misuse of data—particularly personal data—has led to a shift in attitudes in the development community.
For all its faults, Facebook does not lack ambition. The company’s announcement last week that it, along with other members of the newly-formed Libra Association, intends to create a new global digital currency is big news for global finance and the future of money.
In many developing countries health supply chains function poorly, resulting in frequent stockouts and many substandard and even falsified medications—which undermine treatment effectiveness and raise the risk of antimicrobial resistance.