Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

Summary: Iceland is using Facebook to rewrite its constitution: citizens can use the social network to make their own suggestions, engage in online debates, or follow the proceedings in real-time.

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Iceland is finally overhauling its constitution, and it has turned to the Internet to get input from citizens. More specifically, the 25-member council drafting the new constitution is reaching out to its citizens through Facebook (although Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr are also being used).

Two thirds of Iceland's population (approximately 320,000) is on Facebook, so the constitutional council's weekly meetings are broadcast live not only on the council's website, but on the social network as well. "It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook," Berghildur Bernhardsdottir, spokeswoman for the constitutional review project, told the Associated Press. "The sort of argumentative and negative discussion that has been common on Icelandic blogs and news sites, especially since the economic collapse, has been almost entirely absent."

When the North Atlantic island nation gained independence from Denmark in 1944, it simply took the Danish constitution and made a few minor adjustments, such as substituting the word "president" for "king." A thorough review of the constitution has been expected ever since, but action hasn't taken place until recently. The crisis in 2008, when Iceland's main commercial banks collapsed within a week, the krona currency plummeted, and protests toppled the government, has finally put an end to the wait.

The comprehensive review of the constitution is being carried out with the direct participation of the Icelandic people. The Internet component is the most direct route for most Icelanders to have their say: members of the public must provide their names and addresses, and can then submit online recommendations, which are approved by local staff to avoid Internet heckling. The ideas are then passed on to the council, and are open for discussion online.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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12 comments
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  • RE: Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

    Nobody said Icelander's are brilliant.
    Raid6
  • A tiny island

    And they cannot get together an assembly. This is doomed to fail.
    People
    • RE: Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

      @People The constitutional assembly! http://www.stjornlagarad.is/english/

      Before that there was the National Assembly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Assembly_(Iceland)
      http://thjodfundur2009.is/english/
      einsiol
  • Message has been deleted.

    croberts
    • RE: Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

      @croberts

      Imperialist Swine!
      goingbust
    • Um... following your logic... the USA would be a colony/territory of China

      @croberts <br><br>2008 wasn't <i>that</i> long ago... you already forgot?

      (Not that we aren't already there... China could bankrupt this country tomorrow if they dumped their bonds/T-bills on any given day)
      UrNotPayingAttention
    • Be careful what you wish on others...

      @croberts
      ...it may come back to haunt you.
      John L. Ries
  • RE: Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

    This is an incredibly valuable historic event to pay attention to. I was lucky enough to be around in person for a number of the constitutional meetings and I promise the closer you look into what they are doing the more inspiring it becomes. If you want to read more about my first hand experience and the film that is coming out of that I have put it all here:
    http://wilmaswish.blogspot.com/
    Thank you for writing an article on this.
    ejerrett
  • Online Law-making

    I guess it's time for this. I've been building a system to discuss and propose laws online for the last couple months - http://lawdelta.org. Iceland is not the first experiment, by the way. They did similar thing in New Zealand and Canada.
    Malikov
  • RE: Iceland taps Facebook to rewrite its constitution

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