David Miliband Says Technology Makes Governments More Open

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Former foreign secretary discusses the impact of tech on government and the conditions for startups

Former British foreign secretary David Miliband has said he believes increased adoption of technology in society will encourage governments to become more open.

Speaking at the FT Telefonica Millennials Summit in London earlier this week, Miliband said that technology was both of benefit and a threat to governments, but the “balance was positive.”

Technology was breaking down the divide between the public and private spheres, encouraging politicians to act as they are always under scrutiny, said Miliband.

David Miliband speaks

David Miliband“The cardinal sin in politics today is to say something in public and do the opposite in private,” he said. “Secret societies become corrupt but technology is a massive force for openness.  It doesn’t make corruption impossible, but it makes it much harder.”

He added that because of technology, the only real closed society was North Korea, with others having varying “degrees of openness.”

“We’re living in the rise of a techno society but also an open society,” he concluded, before discussing the issue of startups and the conditions necessary for them to thrive.

Startup conditions

He said that national governments could be “incredibly suffocating” and the best thing to have was an entrepreneurial city mayor to make things happen, offering the UK as an example of a government that was too centralised.

In the next twenty years sub-national and city level political players will grow in power, he predicted: “The countries that succeed are going to be the ones that empower the sub-national level.”

He did not however single out Mayor of London Boris Johnson for any particular praise. Johnson has been a vocal supporter of Tech City in East London and was recently present at the signing of the deal which will see the former Olympic Broadcast and Press Centres become a £1 billion tech hub.

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