Metrics and rankings through indexes have influenced thinking at many levels of governance. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report, for example, which ranks countries based on ten sub-indicators, has long been credited for driving several reforms in a number of countries. in the countries. Countries sometimes openly declare their intention to make reforms precisely to reach a certain place in the rankings they seek. In fact, the perceived capacity of these reports to shape and encourage reforms even led to clashes between the World Bank and some relatively poorly ranked states wishing to see rankings weakened.
These are just a few examples of international actors who have come to believe that global performance indicators (GPIs) not only result in strategic changes in relation to the international policy board, but also the possibility of obtaining new lines of financing, loans , Investments and business partnerships. The trend of using systematic state assessments – numbers, rankings, rankings and categories – discloses various aspects of the performance of your governance and hence its flaws, shortcomings and needs. Private bodies, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, editors, intergovernmental organizations and states are to some extent part of the true frenzy of performance evaluations.
A strategic collection of classification, disclosure, and even marketing of this information about the performance of each state is something potentially important in the 21st century. These indices should also be thought of as a form of global governance, since they involve and support the creation of rules and the exercise of soft power on a global scale. Some countries, such as Rwanda, have even appointed bureaucrats to observe their performance on several GPIs.
This social bias has implications for governance around the world and reflects the diversity of actors and institutions that attempt to implement policies of influence in all states. After all, what are the effects of monitoring and classifying states in various ways? Do rankings influence governance policies and practices? What makes an Influential Indicator? Were GPIs merely a perpetuation of existing power structures?
What if these externally generated GPIs serve to fuel a developmentalist rhetoric, fostering digital accessibility and inclusion in the Global South? To appropriate such discourses is also a way of giving greater scope for their effects, in the hope of laying the groundwork for the future of more equitable global internet governance.
What are and should be the global performance indicators
Global performance indicators (GPIs) can be defined as a series of public, comparative and transnational parameters that reflect certain characteristics of governmental, intergovernmental and private actors. Their objectives vary by use and creation, however they are often used to draw attention to the relative performance of countries in a particular area of international politics and economics. GPIs are generally understood to be a source of information on matters of greater importance, a “picture” than what is actually measured or becomes perceptible as a trend or phenomenon.
In other words, the concept of indicators goes beyond the mere use of data, since, in addition to classifying a wide range of entities, regions, institutions and populations, they also assess phenomena, policies, qualities and trends. The evaluation and comparison practices between different actors, as long as they effectively consider their individual contexts and realities, can provide important subsidies for development policies, public transparency, legislative changes, improvement of social practices, fight against corruption, among other objectives. This leads us to the inevitable question: how should global performance indicators be? After all, reflecting on its current nature and impact is, therefore, also thinking about its future and potentiality.
For a global performance indicator to have international relevance, it must be publicly and easily available. This would exclude, for example, private indicators such as those from policy analysis formulated by risk agencies to assist investors. Indicators should also be inclusive, with the primary goal of full inclusion within a region, or around the world, which increases their relevance. It is observed that it is difficult to monitor and compare certain regions and states, due to their scope, diversity and the need to standardize evaluation criteria.
Regularity is also important for this type of evaluation, since they provide temporal evaluation of performance and evolution of its objects of analysis, as well as the possibility of constant improvements and improvements. Sporadic and occasional indices have less impact, reduce social pressure and hinder the anticipation of results. In addition, it is also important that there is transparency in the use of comparative criteria and methodologies, by means of numerical assignments, or clear and as objective labels as possible, in order to reveal to the readers the measurement parameters used. There is not necessarily a clearer methodology than another. However, transparency regarding the criteria used allows the reader to draw their conclusions on the subject. The importance of parameters such as scientific authority, impartiality, consistency and efficiency in the elaboration of these indicators is also highlighted.
Mechanisms of national and international influence
Indicators can be especially persuasive forms of induction towards good governance practices. In the context of state internal policy, global performance indicators can influence local decision makers, as issues such as human rights and environmental protection mobilize domestic policies and sensitize public opinion, especially through the activities of non-governmental organizations and economic actors. These actors pressure decision makers to make effective legislative changes.
Although there is an improvement in the capacity of civil society to hold governments accountable, through the support of globally elaborated international performance indices, it is also necessary to reflect on their methodologies, possible biases and misuses. Economic holdings, external sanctions and the fear of economic repercussions for business and investment can also be strong grounds for persuasion, which is not always a good thing for countries of the so-called “Global South”.
Mobilization can strengthen domestic political coalitions inspired or outraged by the rankings, in order to demand official attention to certain demands. Anticipation of negative publicity and negative reactions in the domestic sphere could induce real political revision in government, headed not always by democratic entities, or whose primary interest is the common good of the population at large.
In addition, indicators can also affect policy by activating cross-border pressures. Most indicators have the ability to influence market expectations and get economic agents to respond to them. Credit rating agencies are one of the most effective examples of how there is state concern regarding the international ranking of governments perceived corruption, among other criteria.
The information in these indices also corroborates the application of additional pressures, through other actors of the international community, on specific aspects of the governance of a State. It is a multiplier effect, which increases the perceived risk of the target that undesirable behavior can have political consequences, reputation in international politics, or material losses. In this context, it is important that each index be directed to the community that can effectively exert this influence among other actors. Even when coupled with the material power of the evaluator, the added value of social pressure through indicators lies in its ability to signal the dislike of the community to the target and to stimulate a political response.
It is also important to recognize that positive evaluations can stimulate actions aimed at maintaining a status, or efforts to maintain good ratings. The fact that classifications are cited, discussed, and sometimes criticized, indicate their power to draw attention and to define the terms of political debate. Distinguishing domestic and transnational processes helps us to organize our own mechanisms, take ownership of them, and better utilize them.
What index should we consider? The governance of the internet in numbers
In Brazil, the main parameters of analysis about the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) – especially the access and use patterns of computers, the Internet and mobile devices – are provided by the TIC Domiciles, carried out by the Regional Center for Studies For the Development of the Information Society (Cetic.br). Cetic.br is a department of the Information and Coordination Center of Ponto BR (Nic.br), which implements the decisions and projects of the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil (Cgi.br).
For years, the TIC Domicílios studies have pointed, for example, to a true “digital shadow” of accessibility in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil, substantial disparities in the digital inclusion indexes of less favored socioeconomic classes, as well as the concentration of internet access through devices Mobile devices, to the detriment of devices such as personal computers.
In the country, some research is also developed by Teleco, the main telecommunications portal in Brazil. Headquartered in São José dos Campos, Teleco has four main areas of activity: public information portals, consulting, training and strategic outsourcing. White papers on the use of broadband in the country, lectures, workshops, information on the mobile market by local area (DDD), among others, are also offered. The main of its portals is the Panorama of the Telecommunications Sector, which subsidizes the analysis of Brazilian data in the ICT sector, including research and elaboration of foreign indexes, such as Freedom on the Net Report.
Freedom on the Net Report is an annual study on freedom of expression online, written by Freedom House. It subsidizes much of the analysis of international popular advocacy and training of scholars in the field of journalism, international law, freedom of expression and political science and international relations, among others.
Its ranking of freedom of expression can be seen in tables and graphs comparative between states, as well as through the details of each country analyzed. Repression, censorship, legislative deficiencies, human rights violations, and other indicators that may support the activities of activists, governments, academics, journalists and private entities in search of effective changes can be seen.
Internet Society also develops global performance indicators in the area of Internet security, public policy, technology and development, the Global Internet Report. Its objectives are to provide subsidies to “convince governments to make decisions that are more right for their citizens and the future of each nation through sustainable internet development available to all.”
The organization also aims to promote public policies for open access to the Internet and online information, facilitate the development of standards, protocols, administration and technical infrastructure of the Internet, organize events, workshops and programs for the multiplication of knowledge in As well as grant fellowships for humanitarian, educational and social initiatives in the context of connectivity.
Like these indicators, several studies and rankings demonstrate the diversity and possible multiplicity of analysis cuts in internet governance studies. The international relevance of the theme has inspired more focused studies, such as the Geneva Internet Governance Index, developed by the Geneva Internet Platform; And the Global Cybersecurity Index of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The global information age invites us to think about new forms of influence and power. The objective of this preliminary study is to focus, in particular, on the expansion of social power concepts in international relations, especially regarding the use of global performance indices in the domain of internet governance. In addition to the traditional rhetoric of justification for military and economic coercion, it is also necessary to consider the forms and ways in which the informational environment also influences States and other international actors in the adoption of specific political measures and behaviors.
The exercise of power through this type of social pressure has great potential in international relations, especially when exploited not to constrain and coerce, but to define, understand and measure state policies in order to gain attention, social acceptance and effective transformation. When appropriated by Global South, and properly contextualized according to their limitations of infrastructure, technology and economic capacity, these GPIs can be part of the contemporary response to the mapping of demands, subsidizing public policies to expand digital accessibility and mitigation of “connection shadows”.
In addition to the sumptuous meeting rooms of the UN and G20, these are mechanisms that subsidize lobbying activities through popular politics, mobilization, transnational constraints, private sector awareness, international advocacy, among others. It is worthwhile to consider the effect of this recent proliferation of indicators, including with respect to internet governance indices, since they can drive transformations and attract attention to issues of greater urgency. By observing minimum parameters of regularity, availability and transparency, it is possible to develop measures of success and examine their possible effectiveness through case studies, quantitative methods and an international agenda of greater influence on global norms and standards.