The report focuses on the key recommendations of the Speaker’s Commission and provides new ideas to help tackle new challenges which have arisen since, such as the rise of fake news.
Download and read the report here.
Publication date: 26 January 2017
The report sets out 6 key recommendations:
- The Government should create a new post called the Digital Democracy Czar. The Czar would have responsibility for advancing a progressive digital democracy agenda and lead on the Government’s response to issues such as fake news and internet trolling.
- The Government should initiate pilots of online voting as a matter of priority for electoral reform. These pilots should take place in 2017 or 2018 with a view to an online voting option being in place for the 2020 General Election.
- The Prime Minister, Secretaries of State, and Ministers should initiate monthly Facebook Live question and answer sessions as part of a Digital PMQs/MQs.
- Parliament’s Restoration and Renewal Programme should publish specific details on how technology could be integrated into its plans to ensure Parliament is fit for the 21st century.
- Political education should be made compulsory across all schools in the UK up to and including GCSE level. The Government should look into introducing this as a distinct subject with a qualified teacher. With regards to tackling the rise of fake news, students should be taught how to critically analyse what they read on the internet and in the media.
- The Electoral Commission should look into developing an official, independent voter advice application ahead of the 2020 General Election. This should be developed in cooperation with political parties, academics and citizens, and coordinated with the publication of election manifestos. This application should then be widely promoted across all media to ensure that as many voters as possible can take advantage of the tool.
The report contains forewords with support from the Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, as well as one of the Commissioners from the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy.
Cat Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, said:
“Our young people are leaving school without a solid understanding of the political system. This can present barriers at elections and referendums, when young people are expected to be engaged and cast an informed vote. Voters also rely too much on information from the third sector, with no official voter advice provided by the state. At a time when we see the rise of ‘fake news’ and internet trolling, it is more important than ever to strengthen our democracy by increased participation.”
Emma Mulqueeny OBE, Digital Democracy Commissioner, said:
“It is great that WebRoots Democracy have taken on the challenge of keeping our collective feet to the fire. I remember when I was asked by Mr Speaker to join the Commission that I said that I would do so on the proviso that it was not going to be a report that ended up on a dusty digital shelf. All of the Commissioners felt the same way and it is critical that the recommendations are not allowed to be ignored. So I am hugely pleased to see this independent report.”
Click here to read a write-up of the discussions which took place at the report launch in Parliament.