Bribr lets Russian citizens expose corruption, bribery

Bribr is a simple tracker for an everyday problem: it lets Russians log bribes given to government officials. If that sounds strange, consider that according to the Russian think tank Indem, bribes accounted for 20% of Russia’s GDP in 2005.

In a country where government corruption is pervasive, bribes help grease the wheels on everything from court cases to also Kindergarten admissions (who knew?).  Russia’s not alone; in many countries, corruption affects all walks of life, but the problem often goes unexposed. Partially, this is because bribes become an accepted and expected part of daily life – but it’s also because those most affected by it have historically lacked a means to document and expose the problem.

No longer. Though it’s still evolving as an app, Bribr helps digitize data instantly and in real time. Moments after an incident, citizens can report the location and Ruble amount of bribes taken, which get pinned to a map on Bribr.com.

Why I’m curious:

Bribr’s founder hopes that as reporting these incidents becomes more commonplace, the public reaction to bribery and corruption will also evolve. Through giving people affected by corruption a way to track and document it, I’m curious to see if public opinion does evolve. I’m also interested to see how the number of users will grow as/if this is released on more platforms (especially non-smartphone ones).

From Fast Company: While similar crowdsourcing initiatives have thrived in other countries that struggle with corruption, most notably India and Kenya, similar efforts in Russia have always failed. The app, which was released in early October, was downloaded 7,000 times in the first two days, according to The Moscow Times.

Interestingly, Bribr’s app description insists that it’s about data collection and not about drawing political conclusions. To this end, Bribr is totally anonymous (allowing users to log information about the bribes, but not who they bribed). Future releases of Bribr will also allow officials to (anonymously) self-report taking bribes.

It’s now available on the iTunes app store (and yes, it’s free for everyone).

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