Digital solutions to fight corruption

Experts have discussed ways to develop effective legal, organizational and digital anti-corruption mechanisms was during the session Does Digitalization of Law Mean a Society without Corruption? at the 11th Gaidar Forum at the Russian Presidential Academy.

Corruption is one of the present-day global problems, largely hindering the socioeconomic and political development of any country. Having reached a transnational scale, it poses a threat to the entire world community, not just individual countries.

The capabilities of digital tools in the fight against corruption are of particular importance in the context of President Vladimir Putin’s Address to the Federal Assembly on January 15. Among the most important initiatives proposed is to provide Russians free access to socially significant online resources. According to the President, accessibility of the internet should become Russia’s competitive advantage.

The discussion participants focused on the most relevant aspects of the anticorruption agenda: the global law enforcement practices and ways to fight corruption at the regional level, the mission of the “regulatory guillotine” and artificial intelligence capabilities in fighting corruption, as well as the current trends in anticorruption education. The moderator, Professor of RANEPA Institute of Law and National Security Yekaterina Dogadailo, opened the session: “Over the past two decades, we have seen an important change in the use of legal mechanisms, a transition from “legal fetishism” (we will adopt a law and things will improve) to flexible mechanisms, and this fully applies the acute problem such as corruption.”

Artyom Tsirin, Executive Secretary, Interdisciplinary Council for Coordination of Scientific and Methodological Anti-Corruption Support, reviewed global experience dealing with corruption. “Initially, anticorruption efforts focused on intimidation. China’s anti-corruption strategy of “beating the tigers” and “catching the foxes” (major offenders who keep their assets at home and smaller ones trying to export them) was a classic example of intimidation,” he explained.

But punitive measures, according to the expert, “work to a certain point, and the current trend is to transition from punitive models to ethical models,” which implies the moralization of law. As an example, the expert cited France, where a Code of ethics for public officials has been developed. “Another good option is the approach practices in Singapore, where corruption was completely eradicated in 30 years. But there too, it took a lot of time to do so,” the expert emphasized. “In my opinion, Russia should opt for a preventive strategy focusing on eliminating the causes of corruption, and here digitalization can play a key role, as it helps work with Big Data and track financial flows.”

Irina Rukavishnikova, member of the Federation Council, said Russia has success stories about digitalization in the field of law. In particular, she cited the experience of the Rostov Region, where a pilot online legal assistance project was launched a year ago. Users register online from their gadgets and make a virtual appointment with a government agency they need to contact. On the appointed date, they go to their local public service center for a videoconference, along with other citizens who have similar requests, and receive answers from relevant officials. “The Prosecutor's Office of the Rostov Region has already joined this project, and provides weekly consultations for residents,” the senator added. “This optimizes the traffic and the government officials’ time. What’s more, the project required no government financing whatsoever,” she said.

Acting Deputy Minister of Justice Denis Novak supported the idea to improve access to legal information: “The Ministry of Justice is working on the implementation of the Unified Legal Awareness Portal. Although it is not specifically about fighting corruption, it will include anti-corruption topics. ” According to the deputy minister, the resource will provide free access to regulatory legal acts, consultations, and information on how to behave particular life situations. It will also be “a kind of marketplace for providers of legal assistance to the population,” said Mr. Novak.

Andrei Gabov, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Deputy Director of the Government Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law, focused on the “legal futurology” – the long-term consequences of digitalization. “Artificial intelligence, robotics, face recognition systems, Big Data – all these innovations are already being used to various extents. But the most important thing, in my opinion, is that the role of interpersonal contact is decreasing. This means an end to the corruption we know and the beginning of new processes that we still do not yet understand, where the beneficiaries of large platforms and aggregators would probably be involved,” the expert warned.

Head of RANEPA Anti-Corruption Center Sergei Vorontsov spoke about current trends in the field of anti-corruption education. In his opinion, both the regulatory guillotine and the introduction of digital tools contribute to reducing corruption by increasing the transparency of government agencies – and the results are quite obvious. “We need to change the concepts and general cultural attitudes, increasing social intolerance for corruption, and train highly qualified personnel to work in a new reality.”

The discussion was also attended by: Iliia Dimitrov, Founder and Executive Director, Seldon Group; Irina Popova, deputy director of the Department of State Policy in the field of state and municipal services, and anti-corruption of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection; Alexander Savenkov, Director of the Institute of State and Law, the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Ilya Kucherov, Deputy Director of the Government Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law.

 

11th Gaidar Forum Organizers:

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA);
The Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute);
The Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

Forum partners:

General partners: Gazprom, Gazprombank. Strategic partners: Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Russian Railways, Pharmstandard group, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Novartis Group, MSD, ACIG Group, EF Education First. Partners: Prosveshcheniye Group, EY, Huawei, RVC, Russian Agricultural Bank.

General information partners: Rossiya 24 TV Chanel, TASS, RBC, Business FM; strategic information partners: Kommersant Publishing House, Interfax, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Invest Foresight online business magazine, RIA FederalPress; main information partners: Anews.com, Gazeta.ru, Lenta.ru, News.ru, Profile; international partners: RT, Thomson Reuters, Sputnik, EFE, Cision, Pan Pacific Agency; information partners: Snob media project, PRIME economic news agency, RNS, Expert magazine, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, Polit.ru, Radio Ekho Moskvy, PRO Business TV channel, FINAM.RU agency, Davydov.Index, Strategia magazine, Ekonomika i Zhizn newspaper, ECONS.ONLINE website, Gosudarstvennaya Sluzhba magazine, TV BRICS.