Digital Development: An Interpretive Policy Analysis of Privacy and Social Inclusion in World Bank Technology Projects
Despite the growing priority to leverage information and communications technology as a tool of development (ICT4D), governments and multilateral institutions have yet to arrive at a global consensus on adequate digital user protection standards. As a result, ICT investments have often yielded data breaches, created digital divides, and unanticipated socioeconomic impacts that limit positive impact to consumers. The World Bank, a leading development institution since 1944, has played an influential role in the conversation on user protection standards, both as an active ICT4D investor and consultant for countries drafting technology legislation. Noting the institution’s influence in shaping global ICT user protection standards, the World Bank’s leadership on implementing and developing its own policies for ICT projects can serve as a model for effective ICT4D governance. This thesis uses Dvora Yanow’s interpretive policy analysis (2000) to capture the discourse on ICT4D policy frameworks between three World Bank policy-relevant publics: managers, designers, and implementers. Specifically, this thesis examines the ways World Bank actors frame the policy issues of ‘privacy’ and ‘social inclusion’ in ICT; interpret and apply the institution-wide ICT4D policy; and relate their framing of policy for future international user protection standards governing ICT4D. This thesis argues that, while World Bank actors do not uniformly apply privacy and social inclusion to their projects, they do share the values of ‘innovation’ and ‘provision’ in technology projects. Each policy-relevant public independently balanced social inclusion and privacy against innovation and provision to accomplish their shared goal of sustainability in a project. This thesis recommends that, for the current World Bank framework to be more effective and uniformly applicable for World Bank stakeholders, it should frame privacy and social inclusion within the context of shared goals of innovation and provision. Specifically, a revised policy should acknowledge that ‘privacy’ and ‘social inclusion’ contribute to the goal of sustainability and allow for the widespread provision and innovation of technology. This World Bank case study lends further insight into the challenge of finding global consensus in ICT regulation, and contributes one layer of shared values in community discourse to inform the international discussion on user protection in ICT4D.
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