Transparency, open data and trust in government: shaping the infosphere

  • Authors: O'Hara, Kieron
  • WebSci '12 Proceedings of the 4th Annual ACM Web Science Conference
  • 2012
  • DOI: 10.1145/2380718.2380747


This paper examines the ways in which using the World Wide Web to promote transparency and to disseminate open data will affect warranted and unwarranted trust in politics and within societies. It is argued that transparency and open data will be damaging for unwarranted trust, but this will open up a space for warranted trust to flourish. Three types of theory about trust and decision-making in politics are discussed: social capital theories, rational choice theories and deliberative democracy theories. Using the UK government’s transparency programme in crime and criminal justice as an example, it is argued that mechanisms being pioneered to disseminate open data online, such as sites like and, promote trust on each theory, although the supply of data is necessary but not sufficient. It is also necessary to consider the wider infosphere, putting deliberative processes in place to foster trust.


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