Table 1: Illustrative Benefits and Risks that Digital Technology May Introduce Across Sectors

Digital Strategy

Speeches Shim

SERVICE-DELIVERY Networked digital information systems allow people, including the underserved or unserved, to more easily access information—for instance, financial services, advice on health, market prices, climate and weather information, job openings, or natural-resource management and agricultural best practices. Privacy-protecting approaches can build trust and safeguard individual rights. Technology companies and authoritarian governments have increasing access to intimate details of people’s lives because of inadequate privacy protections.68 Understand the local digital ecosystem and support the digital strategies of local governments; build the digital literacy of individuals.

Support the implementation of effective digital privacy and cybersecurity best practices to strike a balance between driving increased use of open data-sharing and safeguarding personal information.

ECONOMIC GROWTH Digital connectivity correlates with higher rates of economic growth, and accounts for roughly 14 percent of growth in low- and middle-income countries from 1995-2014.69

Digital financial services, such as mobile payments, digital banking, and new lending products, have shown a measurable effect in lifting people out of poverty.70

A persistent digital divide can undermine inclusive economic growth by excluding marginalized communities or accelerating market concentration and economic inequality. Likewise, under certain conditions, firms that offer digital services built on network effects, large flows of data, and economies of scale might use those drivers to undermine competition, innovation, and consumer protection.71 Work with local stakeholders, including the business community, to identify drivers of exclusion, whether at the policy, infrastructure, services, or end-user level; and identify factors that constrain the private sector from involvement and investment in addressing drivers of exclusion. Facilitate the development of an enabling environment and marketplace of firms and entrepreneurs that promote competition, responsible conduct, and human-centered approaches to innovation.
DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND GOVERNANCE Digital technology has the potential to democratize the flow of data and enhance the ability of governments to respond to citizens’ needs efficiently and effectively. Use of online platforms and partnerships like Open Government Partnership (OGP) and International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), can help to hold governments accountable to their citizens through transparency reforms. Both state and non-state actors have sought to undermine democracy and poison online discussions and social-media platforms through sophisticated deception and disinformation.72

Authoritarian regimes use digital technology to monitor, harass, and threaten ethnic and religious minorities and individuals and organizations that seek transparency and accountability or challenge a government’s narrative.

Support human-rights organizations and independent media through access to secure data and communications platforms, digital-literacy programs, equipment, and state-of-the-art technical assistance in protecting themselves, their families, and their work from cyber attacks and disinformation.
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE Digital data sources, such as social media73 and mobile phone records74 can be a valuable source of real-time information as a crisis unfolds. In humanitarian crises, mobile money transfers can sometimes be faster, more secure, and more transparent than distributing cash.75 Humanitarian agencies in Yemen used biometric registration of aid recipients to support monitoring and accountability. However, disagreements over data control and ownership led to a suspension of food aid to more than 12 million people.76 Explore innovative methods to target and deliver humanitarian assistance more effectively and responsibly using digital tools. Promote responsible use of social media and outreach to affected communities and diaspora.

Promote discussion with international stakeholders on how to best protect the privacy and identity of vulnerable populations, including internally displaced people and refugees.

NATIONAL SECURITY Deployment of digital infrastructure that prioritizes national security, while also promoting U.S. values of an open, secure, reliable, and interoperable Internet, free expression, and free markets, will determine economic growth and security at home and for our partners and allies.77 Cybersecurity breaches can destabilize critical networks and sectors, disrupting a country’s Journey to Self-Reliance. Violent extremists have employed digital applications— from social media and filesharing to cryptocurrencies— to radicalize and recruit, as well as to promote, coordinate, and fund acts of terror.78 Strengthen the capacity of partner governments to secure their data systems against attacks and make informed policy and infrastructure choices.

Work with the private sector in key industries (e.g., finance, energy, health) to improve capacity to strengthen cybersecurity and preserve trust in digitally-enabled services and counter cyber-related threats to economic growth.

PRIVATE SECTOR AND TRADE Digitally-enabled trade, such as through e-commerce platforms or more-efficient customs processes, is one of the fastest-growing areas in the global economy.79 Digital technology can reduce the cost and time needed for common business operations. Many governments choose to adopt protectionist digital trade policies (e.g., data-localization, forced transfer of technology, the use of standards that favor domestic industry, and failure to enforce intellectual-property rights). These policies, when combined with inefficient cross-border trade processes and paper-based systems, impair trade that contributes to economic growth. Build private-sector capacity to adopt digital-first business models and comply with globally recognized standards for the conduct of cross-border trade through e-commerce.

Work with governments to apply digital tools to streamline regulations and processes that facilitate trade.

Strengthen partners’ capacities to participate in the development of international regulation related to the digital economy, and to comply with future commitments.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION Digital technologies can increase access to information in a way that can wield powerful insights for citizens and government stakeholders alike. Digital technology can create echo chambers in which dissenting views are marginalized, as well as perpetuate rumors or other unintentional falsehoods. Build capacity of local media to provide fact-based reporting online and counter disinformation efforts. Build the digital literacy of all communities.

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