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A call for a White Paper on ‘Democracy, politics and the Internet’

“The Internet must not be allowed to become a gigantic prying mechanism, operating beyond all democratic control, a no-go area dominated by hidden powers in which no responsibility can be clearly assigned to anyone,” said Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ALDE) today, presenting her report on Internet and politics: the impact of new information and communication technology on democracy, to the PACE Committee on Culture, meeting in Paris.

"Recent revelations about the operations of secret services which go beyond any legal framework by ordering systematic intrusions into private life must lead us to reflect seriously on the price we are prepared to pay for our security and on the precautions which we must take to avoid annihilating the space for freedom on the Internet,” warned Ms Brasseur.

"States must take concerted action and adopt common rules to protect the Internet as an area of freedom, throughout the world, especially in countries where democracy has been weakened, threatened or abolished, while ensuring that the supervisory mechanisms themselves do not threaten fundamental freedoms,” she said.

"While it is impossible to replace the universal suffrage mode of political representation with any sort of model based primarily on processes of direct democracy through electronic channels, the debate on democracy and the possible renewal of the democratic system in the Internet age is extremely important, both at national and European level,” she concluded. Adopting her report unanimously, the Committee recommended the drafting of a Council of Europe White Paper on “Democracy, politics and the Internet” in order to build up an environment conducive to a mode of Internet development consistent with a common European vision based on the protection of fundamental rights and private life. This report will be debated by the PACE at its session to be held in Strasbourg, (27- 31 January 2014).