Citizen Lawmaking and Technology: What’s New and What’s Ahead?

Exciting developments in citizen lawmaking and technology have enlivened the last several weeks. These efforts suggest that in the coming year, more and more of the Web’s democratic promise may come to fruition:

Respecting ePetition and eConsultation:

All of these programs require eParticipation technologies capable of addressing difficult problems of online communication, document and user authentication, security, and privacy. These programs are also likely to borrow from or integrate to some extent existing innovative platforms, such as and the European e-Justice Portal. They may also integrate new technologies being developed through endeavors such as the EU project IMPACT: Integrated Method for Policy Making Using Argument Modelling and Computer Assisted Text Analysis. The IMPACT team is creating a suite of innovative tools for enabling automated processing of comments that citizens contribute on eConsultation platforms.

In the area of eRulemaking, the coming year may see substantial activity, on three fronts in particular:

Online voting pilot projects — testing technologies that could be implemented in states that permit citizen lawmaking — are likely to be launched in the U.S. in the coming months, pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Dr. Joseph Hall of Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley has written a persuasive commentary on these efforts.

Two other innovative U.S. state-level projects concern voter guides, the information resources on which many citizens base their direct-democracy lawmaking decisions:

These examples demonstrate that, all around the world, there is a wealth of technological and policy innovation and insightful research currently underway in the area of citizen lawmaking. This activity involves creative partnerships among programmers, policymakers, technology administrators, scholars and their universities, government funding agencies, philanthropic organizations, for-profit firms, and the nonprofit community. Through cooperative efforts like these, the promise of technology-enabled citizen empowerment is becoming a reality.


  1. RT @mpeers possibility of an open parliament initiative in Canada, see: #legalinformatics

  2. A really good, helpful summary of various projects.

  3. The Economist (Oct. 29, 2011) discusses crowdsourced legislation services citing @LexPopOrg & @intellitics #egov #gov20 #epart #edem HT @TSannicandro