Regulating with Data

At this year’s Personal Democracy Forum, the theme was “the tech we need“.

One of the areas I’ve been focused on here is the need for “regulatory tech”.  In other words, tools & services to help broker the individual / government & corporation / regulator relationship.

In a nutshell: we are entering the information age, and as such our fundamental models for accomplishing our goals are changing.  In the case of regulation, that means a shift from the industrial, permission-based model to the internet-native, accountability based model.  This is an issue I’ve written about many many times before.

In order for this transition to happen, we need some new foundational technologies: specifically, tools and services that broker the data sharing relationship between government and the private sector.  These can be vertical services (such as Airmap for drones), or horizontal tools (such as Enigma).

The timing is apropos because here in New York State, the senate & assembly just passed a bill banning advertising for short-term apartment rentals.  This is a very very coarse approach, that declines to regulate using an accountability-based model rather than a permission-based model.  Now of course, this particular issue has been fraught for a long time, including claims that Airbnb manipulated the data it shared with NYS regulators.  But that situation is in fact a perfect example of the need for better tools & techniques for brokering a data-based regulatory relationship.

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