Commons speaker John Bercow sets committee to review online voting

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Commons speaker John Bercow sets committee to review online voting

Caroline Baldwin

House of commons speaker, John Bercow, has announced a Commission on Digital Democracy to investigate the use of modern technology in parliament.

During a speech in London last night, Bercow said the vision was to create a “Parliament version 2.0”.

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He said the commission may look into online voting, e-dialogue between Parliament and constituents, as well as questioning the digital divide in Britain.

“It has to be universally inclusive of citizens and not simply a geeks' nirvana,” he said.

The special commission will be assembled in the coming weeks and will consist of 30 experts. It will begin in early 2014, with hopes to report in 2015.

Bercow wants to learn from international examples including Estonia, which has been called a “trailblazer in public sector ICT and cyber security” by cabinet office minister Francis Maude. The country is one of the most connected countries in the world, and is an advocate of open source.

Bercow also wants the commission to seek involvement from technology firms such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Microsoft, so Parliament can learn how technology might develop in the future.

The commission will also involve 10 entrepreneurs from Tech City in London, as well as other technology companies across the country, to hear their thoughts on how technology can enhance democracy.

“Like the digital world itself, it will be unpredictable, potentially anarchic,” said Bercow. “It should even be quite fun.”


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