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Kumar's op-ed highlights new forms of petty corruption

3/21/2019

Joseph Park, ECE ILLINOIS

Rakesh Kumar
Rakesh Kumar
In an op-ed from The Tribune, ECE ILLINOIS Associate Professor Rakesh Kumar brings up the question: is corruption is actually reduced through evolving technology? A question like this is imperative due to how a technology-driven approach to target graft could be pushing out other anti-corruption programmes and institutions. There is a popular belief that thanks to improved technological solutions have increased transparency, reduced discretion, and eliminated intermediaries, culminating in an overall reduced level of corruption. 

Kumar believes otherwise and specifically highlights petty corruption in which "low-level officials exploit the asymmetry of information and power for extracting payment, favours, or services" according to Kumar's op-ed. Although automation and transparency can help reduce such corruption, the implementation of these technological solutions is flawed and can even lead to new forms of corruption. 

These new forms of petty corruption that do not require in-person interaction include digital bribery, extortion, and blackmail because of how corrupt officials may possess authorized and unauthorized access to digital information. Furthermore, advancements in technology could increase the complexity of the systems and processes, decreasing the possibility of detection. 

In addition, Kumar points out how technology could be even less effective in reducing corruption at the highest levels of the government when corrupt lawmakers create new policies to support existing corruption and enable its new forms. As Kumar puts it, "legal but corrupt activities such as initiating and approving projects to funnel resources to cronies can also go unchecked by technology."

 

Read more from Kumar's op-ed at The Tribune