How legislatures could best use the web

By Brian Lapping

Governments and parliaments should jointly use the web to engage informed citizens with current policy decisions. In short, a policy document being put through the legislature should be offered, through the web, to all citizens who have knowledge relevant to the project or are liable to be affected by it. This could avoid the tendency of referenda to over-simplify.

Instead the web could be used to find those knowledgeable or affected citizens whose input could be valuable. Each responding citizen should, first, be required to complete a questionnaire that proves her/his knowledge of/interest in the policy being developed.

Once that is done, they should:

  • be sent the document(s) online;
  • be invited to send their comments online;
  • and, if those comments are relevant, be invited to a meeting with others who have responded and the policy-makers and legislators.

Thus the web could help reduce the current mistrust of legislatures and governments; and by engaging relevant citizens, it could help improve decision-taking.

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