The spread of the internet and new social media throughout the world has considerably transformed social practices. Political participation by citizens and social activism have also changed significantly (examples are net-based mobilisation during the Arab spring, political protests in Russia and Belarus, ‘hacktivist’ practices, Wikileaks, anti-globalist e-mobilisations).
With the high speed dissemination of information via new communication technologies, diffusion of any knowledge, including data useful for democratic transparency, but also rumours or disinformation, is amplified in an unprecedented way producing political effects.
Politicians also see changes in their everyday professional practices: the need to react immediately and electronic means of political campaigning and communication with voters have become major new phenomena that parliamentarians and governments have to address.
What are the tangible effects of the internet and new social media on democracy? Are they a risk or an opportunity? How can parliamentarians take up this new challenge or use new resources in a constructive way in order to enrich democracy?
Recalling its Resolution 1877 (2012) on the protection of freedom of expression and information on the internet and online media; Resolution 1843 (2011) on the protection of privacy and personal data on the internet and online media; Resolution 1729 (2010) on the protection of ‘whistle-blowers’; Recommendation 1906 (2010) on rethinking creative rights for the internet age and Recommendation 1670 (2004) on Internet and the law,
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine the structural effects of the unprecedented spread of the internet and ICT on democracy.