Transparency and Innovation in California:

Dr. Daniel Barreto introduced the CIO’s objective in a company by saying that a CIO should “power a competitive business full of opportunities and challenges.”
Ambiguity and paradoxical situations are part of the job description as the CIO must balance between Cybersecurity issues, regulation compliances, and transparency. Two separate issues that are hard to associate with one clear policy.

According to Ronald Reagan, the “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives “. Security and national defense especially in the cyberspace should  be a priority in these troubled times. However, to stimulate the economy and to ensure the well-being of the citizen, transparency is probably as important. In a more general way, Friedl Weiss and Silke Steiner in “Transparency as an Element of Good Governance in the Practice of the EU and the WTO: Overview and Comparison (2006), state that transparency is “widely accepted as an essential component of good governance.”

Managing this paradoxical situation seems therefore to be a crucial modern challenge for any government.

California seems to orient its policies towards the right direction. While Investments in cybersecurity continue to increase, the state also introduces new initiatives to help small businesses thrive. As the number of I.Ps used to be a key metric in measuring innovation, openness and transparency seem to be the new “trend”. The symbol of this new approach to innovation is the car company, Tesla. Based in Palo Alto, California, the company’s latest model called “Model S”, was the world’s first open-source car, meaning that Tesla shared all the patents to the public allowing anyone to take ownership of the technology and potentially build a similar car.

At the government level, the CA Data Open Portal mentioned by Chris Cruz (State of California Deputy State Chief Information Officer) is a good example of this mindset. According to the government itself, open-source datasets “will bring government closer to citizens and start a new shared conversation for growth and progress”(https://data.ca.gov/). Although the initiative can be qualified as noble and innovation-driven, the datasets do not cover all the main industries and the quantity of data differ drastically from one topic to another.
California’s economy is the biggest one in the states, playing a leading role at the global scale in many industries. Agriculture, Aerospace and high-tech computers are just a few examples of industries playing a major role in the Californian economy and are unfortunately not included in the Open Data Portal.

Now acknowledging the positive correlation between innovation and transparency in an economy, we can also ask ourselves about the balance to be found between security and openness in the cyberspace.

As surprising as it can seem, cybersecurity and innovation are not opposite terms. Kamala D.Harris, Attorney General from the Californian Department of Justice, says that in the past years more than 30% of all cyber attacks were targeting businesses with fewer than 250 employees (https://oag.ca.gov/cybersecurity). In other words, big corporations are not the only entities that need protection in the cyberspace. Startups and small businesses that are trying to innovate and disrupt markets should also receive such protection.

I believe that we should not stigmatize Cybersecurity and transparency as opposites but more as necessary requirements for innovation and for the success of a business. As hackers will become more and more skilled, Cybersecurity will take a more prominent role in small, medium and big companies, and will redefine transparency and visibility instead of simply reducing it.



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4 comments on “Transparency and Innovation in California:”

  1. I appreciated how you connected innovation and transparency; however I felt that the transitions felt forced and jumpy. You points about Tesla and their new Model S was a very good example of how both innovation and transparency could work hand in hand. I liked how at the very end you mentioned that transpercy would be redefined, but would love for you to have expanded on that and maybe what you think it could mean in the future. Overall, this post had a lot of good points that I think need a little more analysis and reference to how it relates to transparency.

  2. Hey Victor, a very well put article and I liked that you pointed out the fact about there not being sufficient data included in the Open Data portal regarding different industries that play a major role in the California economy. I wasn’t aware of the necessity of cyber security in small businesses and was a bit surprised at the statistic of 30% attacks at small businesses. It seems that smaller companies are attractive because they tend to have weaker online security and they’re also doing more business than ever online via cloud services that don’t use strong encryption technology. To a hacker, this translates into reams of sensitive data behind a door with an easy lock to pick. If these businesses have any Fortune 500 companies as customers, they’re an even more enticing target because then they are an entry point.

  3. For me, your article highlights two concrete issues: a) While the government should be responsible for protecting its citizens, under the growing threat of hacking, government does not offer any protection to startups or small businesses. b) State of California is attempting to be more transparent by publicly releasing data, but that data presently does not cover key industries and remains far from sufficient.


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    1. In terms of cyber protection, with the limited resources and operational capacity the government has, it may be better for a corporate partnership in providing cyber protection to all citizens. However, the leading cloud service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft , IBM and Google are making attempts to attract customers with stronger security as a key feature. These cloud services are becoming increasingly accessible and are a good option. For enhanced security however, I believe dedicated companies or non-profit groups should offer services to protect from different types of cyber attacks, on a subscription basis.

      For better transparency through more data sets, Mr. Cruz mentioned that California is moving forward by releasing more data sets in the upcoming years. I agree that the release in this data is taking a considerably long time, with no projection of when most data sets will be publicly available. I recall that Mr. Cruz mentioned we should have about 450 data sets available by 2018. Among the major challenges that slows this process is that the data needs to be redacted or filtered for sensitive information. While I hope that more data sets be available at the soonest, I am happy that the path towards data transparency is broadening.


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