Advances in technology are helping the fight against corruption, by prompting governments and the private sector to improve transparency and citizens to demand more accountability.
Potential whistle-blowers, for example, have more channels of reporting, including through encrypted messages. Information about assets, travel, and procurement is now easier to access.
But as misinformation becomes more pronounced particularly through social media, a new challenge emerges: how to certify the veracity of the shared information.
“While technological advances can be useful in the fight against corruption, it must be considered that the information obtained and provided through the web may not always be reliable,” said Marta Herrera, Chair of the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group (ACTWG), which coordinates the implementation of anti-corruption initiatives across the Asia-Pacific region.
The fast-adapting nature of today’s technology also enables new ways of corruption to “(evolve) faster than law enforcement agencies can identify,” said Herrera, who also serves as Director of the Anti-Corruption Specialized Unit in the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Chile, host economy of APEC 2019.
Fraud has become more sophisticated by utilizing new technologies, including online payment systems, secure transaction records, or blockchain, and crypto currencies – innovations that require considerable resources when preparing a response.
“The big amount of data and the necessary time to process it also appears as an important challenge,” Herrera explained.
Collaboration encourages officials in APEC economies to update its knowledge of technology, such as advances in digital data capture and automated transactional analysis that can help identify money laundering and other illegal transactions.
Since January, Transparency International has received over 1,500 reports of corruption and other irregularities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.