Recently we celebrated CivicTech by posting 21 initiatives from across the world on the 26th & 27th of October. They are the most valuable of LegalTech and here’s why.
What is CivicTech?
Steve Balmer wasn’t going to donate to charity. He told his wife he paid enough in taxes. As she explained to him, it doesn’t work that way and to find out how it does work they donated $10 million to create USAFacts.org. A site dedicated to telling everyone how the US government spends tax dollars. The Balmer’s were exercising a basic human right to know the facts. Because without facts, Free Speech is nothing more than Fake News.
Over a 100 countries have established some kind of freedom of information law. Despite having access to all that data it still takes a considerable amount of tech to really get to the truth. The Panama Papers (11.5 million), Paradise Papers (13.5 million) and the little lighter Kennedy Assassination Records (13.000+) prove you need all the help you can get. Here’s a practical definition: CivicTech is whatever technology is developed to protect your civil rights. And most of it starts with knowing what rights we have.
Why is CivicTech so valuable?
Financial numbers tell us that it is. This July, Legalpioneer calculated the average investments per market and CivicTech came out on top but has since slipped to third. Unfortunately, not all have “Mr. Developer” money to invest in the importance of understanding our rights and how they affect our position in society.
But bear in mind, the US opioid crisis unveiled how much ($248 million) is spent to influence these positions. Equally, their presidential elections revealed how little ($46.000) is needed to nudge even the largest democracy. We were brought up to believe our vote and voice matter, the reality is that it can just as easily be bought and bargained. Those who pay for and play with our liberties bank on anarchy to be more profitable then stability and fairness.
If you acknowledge how important funding is for our individual rights, the above-mentioned amplifies how perilous we have become. It’s not just providing power to the people, also to the individual. Cyberbullying and Sexual Harassment are rampant and a real reminder that it isn’t going away with just saying you’re sorry.
Who will defend our civil rights?
When you distill it, it boils down to the following. You need at least $248 million to get your own law approved. About $10 million to find out the truth or defend your privacy in court. Around $40k to misinform a susceptible audience to become the new sheriff of planet Earth. But if you do not have the means and the “report abuse” button does not work. You have just a single vote to oppose injustice. That is if you are eligible and able to register.
There is Access to Justice (#A2J) movement across the world which is addressing a more affordable system. But it still begs the question: why is it so expensive in the first place? Maybe it is a lack of tech-savvy empathic professionals to make it more user-friendly and efficient.
I called them “Fair Defenders” and it is a slightly corny name which belies the immense responsibilities we entrust upon them. Challenges like rising income inequality, massive job displacements, environmental disasters and global disinformation.
These defenders acknowledge that the tech is mightier than the sword. They use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to stop Cyberbullying (video) and protect the LBGT community. Employ Blockchain to preserve citizens rights or simply create a community and start the conversation (TEDTalk). And as this court case proves, they can also stop AI from violating our civil rights.
We hope these examples inspire you to create more civic tech, the worlds needs it.