Computer-mediated transparency is seen as a powerful tool to attain policy goals and to transform government. This is based on the idea that transparency is something good in itself, which can be attained by using ICTs eventually improving government and citizen relations. This article claims that although transparency of government is necessary, scholars and practitioners tend to overestimate its positive effects and underestimate its negative effects. There is no reason to believe that transparency is always a good thing. Further, ICTs are not necessarily an effective means to increase transparency; there is an increased risk of information overload, cyber propaganda and inadvertent information release. Transparency might even drive citizens away from government as it gives way to a ‘gotcha’ media culture and political cynicism. Moreover, transparency has potential wide scale unforeseen and unintended consequences which eventually may affect society and economy. This is not a plea against transparency, but this article gives several pointers that the risks involved with disclosing information are much more complicated than the literature has yet fully acknowledged. This article concludes that the future of transparency may be twofold: more transparency of quantifiable performance indicators, but increased control of information flows that are at the heart of governments.
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