Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, Recommendation 2033 (2014) - Internet and politics: the impact of new information and communication technology on democracy - (Rapporteur: Ms. Anne Brasseur Doc. 13386, Reply from the Committee of Ministers in July 2014)
The Internet now lies at the heart of democratic society, according to the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media. It has enabled citizen groups to mobilise and hold governments and politicians accountable as never before, expanding public participation in democratic processes. Social media, in particular, can reconnect citizens with their democratic institutions, whether parliaments or political parties, in new and dynamic ways. On the other hand, fragmented web-based decision-making is not necessarily suited to complex policy-making, the committee points out. Replacing representative democracy with some form of “direct democracy” via Internet voting would bring the risk that small groups with greater resources could dictate final decisions without being known or required to account for them, wielding illegitimate power. The web can also facilitate abuse: it hosts intolerance and hatred, allows organised crime syndicates, terrorists and dictators to flourish, and enables the insidious monitoring of private life, not least – as recently revealed – unacceptable intrusion by State secret services.The Internet belongs to everyone, and ways must be found to preserve its openness and neutrality while preventing it from becoming a gigantic prying mechanism, beyond all democratic control. Web-users and operators must be encouraged to regulate themselves, while parliaments should lead the way in ending the digital divide and setting new norms in areas such as “semantic polling”, data-gathering, evaluating search algorithms and curbing Internet trolling. The ultimate aim will be to be finding a model of Internet governance which ensures web freedom and guarantees online safety while respecting human rights, especially in countries where these are most under threat. To this end, the committee proposes that the Council of Europe begins work on a White Paper on “Democracy, politics and the Internet.
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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) (PACE)
Internet and politics: the impact of new information and communication technology on democracy (PACE)