|Mexican Senator Gabriela Cuevas Barrón highlights need for better planning and ideas on using ICT to address digital divide in Mexico and to enhance parliamentary services. ©Parliament of the Republic of Korea|
Ending the digital divide among and within countries and investing in the necessary infrastructure is essential to the development of democracy, a global conference on e-Parliaments has highlighted.
The World e-Parliament Conference, has shown that whilst a commitment by national parliaments to use e-technology to become more open, transparent and accountable to their citizens is being increasingly implemented, not all parliaments are able to progress in the same way or at the same pace. A lack of technological infrastructure as well as human and financial resources remained the main obstacles.
The three-day conference jointly organized by the South Korean National Assembly and IPU in Seoul concluded on 10th May with a call for a greater level of cooperation between parliaments and support to the legislative bodies to help bridge the divide.
Bringing together MPs and parliamentary staff from 90 countries, the conference nevertheless acknowledged the significant progress made on using new technology, including social media networks, to engage citizens in the work of parliament and to better connect them to their elected representatives.
Initiatives included inter-active communication between citizens and their MPs that abolished barriers of distance and geography, the ability of citizens to propose and comment on draft legislation and a push to make parliamentary data open and accessible online.
Whilst the development of e-parliaments is empowering citizens and parliaments alike and leading to more transparent politics, it is also resulting in new challenges and barriers. MPs in particular highlighted the need for digital privacy and a clearer definition on boundaries between privacy and open data.
Despite the emergence of new trends in digital communications in recent years, participants stressed access to new technologies as a key determinant of a successful e-Parliament and strong, participatory democracy.