Last night a live debate was hosted by the Guardian and Google on data censorship, foreign aid and international development. Moderated by Data Store editor Simon Rogers, the panel included:

  • Douglas Alexander, Labour MP
  • Rachel Rank, Publish What You Fund
  • Salil Tripathi, Director of policy at the Institute for Human Rights and Business
  • Ian Goldin, Director of Oxford Martin School and former VP of the World Bank

The panel all agreed that access to international aid data can empower useful, reactive change – but they all maintained that more must be done if we’re to see its potential positive impact realised in regimes where censorship and human rights abuses are commonplace.

Rachel Rank explained that access to data on international aid helps government departments, NGO’s and private donors to make better decisions about where to invest much needed funds.

She said that access to this data is significant to a range of different stakeholders, and important for a number of different reasons. Taxpayers have a legitimate right to understand where their money is spent overseas, and recipients have the same right to understand where aid is being spent in their own country.

Rank admitted that “league tables and ranking are a crude tool in many ways.” However, “donors do sit up and take notice of indexing” and can often be pressured into improving their practise when it comes to data transparency.

Watch the full video.