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Reconnecting democratic institutions and citizens via the internet

“We must seize this opportunity to reconnect democratic institutions, via the Internet, with citizens who have moved away from them, and develop, particularly in our parliaments, the capacities and competences required for exploiting this positive potential provided by the Internet,” the Assembly said today at the end of a debate on ‘The Internet and politics’.

Parliamentarians called for an increase in the capacity of political – and in particular parliamentary – institutions to use the new information and communication technologies “to improve the transparency of the decision-making process and dialogue with the citizens”.

The adopted resolution, based on a report by Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ADLE), warns that the Internet increases the risks of abuses and aberrations liable to jeopardise human rights, the rule of law and democracy. “We must prevent the web from becoming a de facto no-go area, a sphere dominated by hidden powers in which no responsibility can be clearly assigned to anyone.”

According to parliamentarians, self-regulation is vital here to guarantee Internet neutrality and should be encouraged; it would not, however, appear to be sufficient. They proposed a series of measures such as devising coherent regulations and/or incentives for self-regulation concerning the accountability of the major Internet operators, and to support the preparation of a Council of Europe White Paper on “Democracy, politics and the Internet”.