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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