Brazil has developed what is being called an “e-democracy” tool which allows anyone in the public to edit legislative texts and add suggestions.
The tool, called WikiLegis is an initiative by the House of Representatives and the creator is LabHacker which states
“to articulate a network among parliamentarians, hackers and civil society that contributes to the culture of transparency and social participation through the management of public data.”
Currently it’s use is limited to two laws: the Access to Information Law (which is Brazil’s version of the Freedom of Information Act) and the Rules of Instruments for Public Efficiency.
This tool is an initiative to use new and emerging technologies in order to create a better democracy. Previously if citizens wanted to change a law they would have to contact their representative of Parliament who will then pass this onto Parliament. But this method wasn’t always the best. Sometimes the representatives held opinions that did not represent their constituency. This tool aims to completely bypass representatives and allow anyone in Brazil to communicate and edit laws.
However, laws have to still be debated. Citizens couldn’t simply all want the name of Brazil to change to “meme machine” (4Chan, I’m looking at you) and have it be done. Suggestions are voted on in Parliament.
Suggestions can also be upvoted and downvoted, much like Reddit posts. People can comment on each suggestion to crowdsource and improve the suggestions to legislations, this has proven to work well with the National Union of Students (UK).
Although giving users the power to upvote and downvote might seem like a good idea at first, this sound’s like a 4Chan raid waiting to happen. To counter this, each person voting and suggesting new ideas to legislation have to have an account and presumably have to have Brazilian citizenship.
There’s a seperate platform for the public to suggest legislation as well as this platform to edit legislation.
Wikilegis also has a Trello board where they keep a list of all their suggestions / features they are working on, found here.
To date one of the most popular citizen participation documents on the website is on Personal Data Protection (452 suggestions)