Below we present several interventions of the speakers in Penne (Italy):


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

"IS IT ALREADY A DIGITAL DEMOCRACY?" - ON TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS AND HOW THEY SHAPE DEMOCRACY

 

SUMMARY OF THE INTERVENTIONS 

 

  • SPEAKER: Mr Aldo Di Fabrizio – Project manager of the Municipality of Penne and of the UES/SUE (Unique European Service/Servizio Unico Europeo)

  • SPEAKER: Lawyer Mr Sandro Di Minco professor in the Master in Computer Law at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome

  • SPEAKER: Mrs Nina Celli – Responsible of ProVersi Platform

  • SPEAKER: Prof. Enzo Fimiani – Historian of the University of Studies “Gabriele D’Annunzio” Chieti-Pescara

  • REPORTO OF RETEOTTO TG EDITION 9TH FEBRUARY 2020

 

"IS IT ALREADY A DIGITAL DEMOCRACY?" - ON TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS AND HOW THEY SHAPE DEMOCRACY

 

SUMMARY OF THE INTERVENTION 

 

SPEAKER: Mr ALDO DI FABRIZIO – Project manager of the Municipality of Penne and of the UES/SUE (Unique European Service/Servizio Unico Europeo)


In Europe, incentives for the development and diffusion of technological innovation have led to its use in participatory processes of direct democracy (ASSUNTO).

 

1. The current debate pushes analysts towards three types of political-institutional analysis:

     a. opportunities and risks that characterize the challenge;

     b. algorithms and digital platforms;

     c. Political-philosophical analysis (feeling part of the decision-making processes and problems related to cognitive bias).

2. The violation of the mandate bond (art.67 of the Constitution) in the use of digital voting platforms.

3. The advance of populism in two main aspects:

     a. Communication (using social networks to reflect on complex topics is risky);

   b. Induction (there is behind someone who manipulates or someone we do not know who operates in a non-transparent way), lack of control, lack of security.

 

Does digital help democracy? (RESULT). In the various countries there is a different level of development in the management of the platforms. Proposals are being studied (such as verifying sources in order to avoid fake news and Euroscepticism) and this project intends to develop new ones. Upcoming international meetings like this will help us do this.

In recent times, technology has intervened in the life of each of us in a disruptive ("disruptive") way. This new wind has also influenced the participatory processes of European citizens in democratic life. Political movements have sprung up across Europe that have their way of being and acting in liquidity (they take the shape of the containers they find from time to time). The Pirates Movement was born in Germany. In Italy first the 5 Star Movement and then Volt Italy (in Europe it is called Volt Europe) which recently participated in the regional elections in Emilia Romagna in support of the candidate president Stefano Bonaccini.

The first opportunities arose from the new forms of voting (as Antonello Soro, the Privacy Guarantor reminds us in his book): electronic and online (through platforms and algorithms). Electronic voting is carried out within a place where digital equipment is available (electronic booth); it requires more checks than the traditional ballot box vote (the vote is a sensitive data that can be altered). Online voting, however, can be done from home by accessing digital platforms if you have an account; here the risks are even higher because we do not know who is behind that platform, how the vote is counted, how the voting question is decided. It is therefore not the tool that guarantees the democracy (power of the people) of the voting and decision-making processes. Democracy does not imply everyone's duty to make judgments on everything but to give citizens the opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss and discuss and then delegate the right person and participate in a decision-making process that guarantees governance. As for the discussion, for example, the TED allowed to advance a different rhetoric through a particular format (it is a form of marketing, teaching); the paradigm is reversed and the teachers are put in a less orthodox way (students can get into the chair), less responsive to the traditional canon. It has to do with politics: participation in active life, in the social space (the polis, the agora). The speech is concentrated in 10 minutes.

The Constitution states in article 48 that the vote is personal, free, equal and secret. The technology also poses technical problems related to reliability, data security, anonymity; today there is no protection in all this. For example, the Change platform (2 million users) allowed to vote on an online petition that saved bees from 3 lethal pesticides and simplified the rules relating to the organization of live concerts. The petition allows to exercise popular sovereignty: the people stimulate the politician and sometimes suggest that he is not doing his job at best.

The journalist Barbara Carfagna says that millennials expect to come one day to have a world where they will vote only online or electronically. But will we be hacked (via cyber) in the vote or in the election results? Tel Aviv University (Israel) is wondering about the dilemma: will there be democracy with digital technology? The citizen can be influenced and manipulated invisibly.

 

Philosophers and constitutionalists wonder whether direct democracy does not risk transforming into heterodirect electronic democracy: directed by those who actually exercise control over the technical means aimed at expressing the political will of the demos. In various European countries there are forms of digital voting ranging from electronic voting to the deliberations of the virtual agora. The problem of people's self-government is complex and cannot be solved by a technique in itself but requires mediation, compromises and institutional arrangements. The techniques must be used with a critical sense and historical awareness. Certainly the democracy of the new digital media allows greater participation of marginal subjects. He must not always seek plebiscitary consent but also a critical reflection on the contents. This leads us to reconsider the concept of Digital Humanism (teleworking, big data, open data).

Prof.ssa Stefania Milan (Univ. Of Amsterdam): Facebook's algorithms present the contents that may interest us in our wall; this leads to the idea that everyone thinks like us (dating). He created an FB tracking expose software for a critical approach to data (it makes us understand what happens to us when we are on FB and if they have manipulated us). The network is a disintermediated space and the censorship goes more on the medium (access to the network) than on the content (Umberto Eco: internet gives space to imbeciles). In China the check takes place: by not sending news about the servers; cover negative noises; create positive noises. The digital divide and computer literacy cause a difference in the ability to inquire and vote.

Russeau platform: Until parliamentarians it did not exist. Gianroberto Casaleggio: "direct democracy in a word is that the person no longer delegates the politician, controls the work of a civil servant and is required to respect the mandate in terms of the project, of proposals and not in general political terms. The network will lead over time to a real representation of people in the political world. "

Davide Casaleggio: ”Russeau is a place where our whole community has managed to speak, build, vote for candidates. Propose laws with LEX MEMBERS, protect yourself from external attacks that took place with the shield of the network, propose new ideas for participation in the political life of your city with initiatives. Russeau was born for a participation linked to digital citizenship. "Enrica Sabatini:" Digital citizenship can transform participation and action into a shared process. Smart platforms and grids extend the potential of our actions in a connective and collaborative way through access to data and participation in the network. "

Even in the government contract with the League, voting was made on Russeau. LEX MEMBERS PARLIAMENT and REGION: the citizen votes on the proposed laws, responds to the proposed laws. E-LEARNING is the training by movement parliamentarians who insert online lessons.

Jean Jacques Russeau: "The right to vote is sufficient to impose my duty to educate myself on the matter." An informed citizen is always a free citizen. The SHARING function allows you to share through an open source archive containing laws, interpellations, agendas, queries. The network is not just a series of nodes in which the nodes are citizens but part of a larger whole. The CALL TO ACTION function is the participation (low) of the individual towards the community (high); the community supports him with the strength of the group. The ACTIVISM function is participation from top to bottom: the individual can join collective and collective projects (e.g. march for citizenship income). Casaleggio suggests using the Blockchain also in government decision-making processes.

Thaler: Human nature therefore complicates the picture of the relationship between paternalism and libertarian spirit because it is subject to heavy inertia. Staying anchored to the default choice is one of these inertias. Thaler and Sunstein propose a limited conciliation which they call "libertarian paternalism". The libertarian paternalist is paternalist in that he claims the right to modify the architecture of choice if it is shown that this can improve the quality of decisions. Nudge is a gentle push.

Kahneman: cognitive bias pushes to decide on the basis of their beliefs. induces individuals to prefer information that confirms their hypotheses and to avoid contrary possibilities.

The news should be checked (to limit fake news). There is a difference between Russeau and Cambridge Analytic according to prof. Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè: Russeau represents a vertically integrated industrial populism; there is a manipulation because the choice is made by someone before formulating the question (e.g. do you want with government with the PD? But it does not say that there is also LEU and Italia Viva). There is a programming of the subversion of participatory processes. The questions are neither neutral nor complex. There is a mandate restriction. Cambridge Analytic, on the other hand, is political marketing but then the vote is free.

Denis Roio talks about algorithmic sovereignty: algorithms create incentives and lead us to do something. The sharing economy is an immense economy (billions of euros): AIR BNB, Uber ... Algorithms enter our intimacy, make us share information (sometimes we don't know with whom). There are the Brain Hubs. Behind it are people who rate Google or moderate discussions on FB. There is another industrial scenario (the internet of things; internet of thing), e.g. the refrigerator connected to the supermarket or the Amazon algorithm that tells the courier how many minutes it must take to make that geolocated delivery. In the end, however, it is the intelligence of people that avoids technocracy for the benefit of democracy.

 

SPEAKER: Lawyer Mr Sandro Di Minco - professor in the Master in Computer Law at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome

I would say that there are no rules that are missing but there are many rules that should be given effectiveness. The real problem is therefore not that of having new rules because we have enough of them. We do not sufficiently have the correct and complete implementation of this legislation.

 

There is a problem both an awareness on the part of digital rights holders, which are recognized by very important rules of European and national rank, and on the other hand a tendency in general of the Italian public administration to be somewhat distracted in correct application of these rules.

 

Unfortunately, Italy in the European ranking from the latest data relating to December 2019 is in the fifth last place on the digitization levels in Europe and alas Abruzzo ranks in Italy in the third last place from the point of view of the digitization level while, and at the same time it should be emphasized, the Abruzzo Regione is placed at very high levels in the use of social networks. Here there is obviously a contradiction: there is no attitude of the citizen of refusal in the face of technologies since he/she uses them for social media. It is probably not adequately facilitated in the use of information technologies (IT) for the purpose, however, in accessing to the important public services. It is as we have citizens who know how to use the car but use it or know how to use it only to go on holiday to the beach and then go to work with the mule. It is a paradox of this type because it would be necessary to create the conditions for information technologies (IT) to be used as well as national and European standards provide, for the benefit of citizens to be able to participate in democratic life in a more direct and active way, to be able to exercise control more direct and active than the methods of use of public resources by the Italian public administration and to be able to exercise a whole series of rights both towards public administrations and towards private individuals who manage public services using digital identity, electronic (digital) signatures, tools and standards that the European and national regulatory framework has made available to us for many years.

 

SPEAKER: Mrs Nina Celli – Responsible of ProVersi Platform. 

 

Pro \ Versi, an educational tool for the era of digital democracy

 

The spread of the network and the increasingly widespread use of digital tools have profoundly and irreversibly changed the relationships between people and between them and the institutions, redesigning links and spaces, creating new audience areas of information, communication and debate. This has also significantly influenced political relations, exponentially expanding the traditional places and tools assigned to it. On the other hand, as Stefano Rodotà wrote, "politics has always used the techniques gradually available for communication, organization and control purposes". Thus information and communication technologies are redefining relationships within the system of representative democracy; the space of politics - no longer confined to buildings - becomes potentially infinite. Previously, and not only in politics, there was a vertical type of communication, where the communicator represented the authority and the audience accepted his message passively. Today this picture has changed, communication has become horizontal, equal, equal between the involved subjects, and the need for representatives and mediators is less and less felt.

There is an almost unanimous agreement in considering it necessary to rethink, in the light of the new context briefly outlined, the very concept of democracy and recalculate the mode, depth and extent of participation, in order to adapt it to the new demands of the technological era and to be able to give a response to the growing disaffection of citizens towards politics. Just as - for about twenty years - there has been unanimity in believing that the network is the indispensable tool for creating a form of democracy in step with the times, since it gives the possibility of creating a government from below, offers greater transparency and sharing, promotes collective knowledge, insofar as it is shared, superior and more exact (since subjected to greater verifications) with respect to the knowledge of the individual; popular involvement increases. From this interventions can arise as close as possible to the real needs and interests of citizens, new and wider spaces of political communication; a strengthening of the public debate, an improvement of the decision-making processes and thus filling the democratic deficit perceived above all in the European context. In this context, the concept of digital democracy was born in its various meanings, in particular the "direct" one, in which citizens participate in the legislative process without delegating political representatives, and the "participatory" one, which does not necessarily provide for the reduction of the role of political representatives, but rather the increase in the participation of all citizens in the development and general direction of politics. The citizen, called to participate directly in the political choices, not only in the application phase, but also in the decision-making one, feels empowered and is led to learn more about political issues.

However, if we have been talking about the great aspirations linked to the expansion of the use of the network in the political exercise for some decades, with all the excellent purposes described above, it cannot be said that these have been fulfilled, neither at national level nor European. As we read in the study of the year 2018 The perspectives of digital democracy in Europe, “Compared to a decade ago, the high expectations and optimism of considering the Internet as a panacea/remedy for political disenchantment and as a way to create new transnational spaces for political communication 'from below' have waned ”. There is still a lot to do, especially by the world of politics. The study also reads: “One criticism commonly addressed to EU-wide digital participation practices is that they are a successful civic tool, but not a convincing political tool. The theme that seems to reappear is that projects that involve digital participation could bring personal added value to the participants and could favor the strengthening of the community's capacities, but they are lacking in terms of direct or even indirect political impact ".

In more general terms, there are several critical issues affecting digital democracy, the resolution of which would benefit its affirmation both from a social and political point of view. There is, at least in Italy, a widespread mistrust of information systems, for their possible vulnerability, which could result in the manipulation of votes, the violation of the right to secrecy of the vote and user privacy. Some argue the inadequacy of these tools for making complex decisions, both for the lack of competence that some may have on certain areas and for the lengthening of times. Furthermore, it is probable that not all citizens can devote yourself the necessary time and commitment and this would risk the efficiency and adequacy of the legislative measures that could result.

Among the critical issues, the so-called digital divide persists, which is not only structural and of the access, but above all cultural and digital literacy, for which there would be a segment of population more vulnerable to manipulation and control processes and the exercise of power by small groups. Freedom and manipulation in this area are extremely close. It is difficult to identify systems that can protect the network from these pitfalls. Alongside technical interventions to guarantee the efficiency and security of IT systems, therefore, it becomes necessary to promote a critical approach to the network. The choices made in the context of direct democracy can have consequences for an entire community, therefore it is absolutely necessary that citizens are properly informed, but this represents another problematic aspect: in most cases there is no guarantee regarding the quality of the on-line information, since anyone can insert unverified content, avoiding the principle of responsibility. In addition, we are all exposed to the risk of manipulation, since the application of censorship or filtering by those who manage the information can have wide effects in shaping opinions. The same abundance of data and the consequent difficulty of discerning and selecting sources, in terms of reliability and credibility, represents a risk not secondary to that of manipulation of information and participation systems. Precisely from the awareness of these critical issues in the world of digital information, the ProVersi web site (the platform) was born in the year 2015.

 

Pro \ Versi, comparing opinions

The infinite availability of information on the web has produced progress and accelerations in many areas, but has also opened the doors and given visibility to opinions and theories not always characterized by rationality and truthfulness, facilitating the phenomenon of fake news and post-truths. Knowledge has lost its filters of relevance, accreditation and authoritativeness. Before the web, knowledge was less "democratic", the availability of information and knowledge was more limited and selective, but there were scales, sometimes implicit, that assigned value to theories and opinions born from academies, institutions, research environments. In the era of horizontal communication, these scales of values have jumped, the traditional judgment parameters have dissolved, the references have taken on a secondary value. On the web it is possible to find confirmation to any opinion, even the most extreme, even if "suspended" and not very referenced. Thus, if on the one hand the network has proved to be a powerful incentive/leverage for democratization and cultural growth, on the other hand a sort of "tribalization" of knowledge is underway, no longer certified or organized, which tends more to flatter the expectations of the user, its assumptions and values, which send it to reflection and discernment, keeping it away from confrontation with contrary opinions, in a sort of intellectual comfort zone.

The ProVersi site was born precisely as a response to this need to give credibility and authority to information on the net. It is a tool aimed at stimulating the dialectical confrontation and the user's critical spirit, invited not only to correct information, but also to actively contribute to the improvement, enhancement and research materials. In this way, we would like to restore value to dialogic and collective research, because we believe that opinions thus gained can allow better decisions closer to the public interest. So we hope to contribute to giving strength to an obsolete value: critical capacity, and to make the web the tool that will allow us to catch the enormous potential of collective knowledge construction.

In ProVersi we only deal with particularly controversial public interest topics, on which there are favorable and opposite positions. The reader finds the most authoritative opinions on the topic debated, with a mirror comparison between the pros and cons. There is no winner, there is no opinion that prevails over another. We provide a sort of mapping of the topic, so that the user can get a personal idea, starting from the subjective and rational processing of the information acquired, all referenced and accompanied by sources. Our web site also offers a calm and rational space in which authors with public or scientific representativeness, or their reviewers, can intervene directly and improve the quality, precision and depth of the dialectical comparison that our editorial team reconstructs for each theme. In fact, our texts are not static: after publication, third-party authors can intervene with new contributions and additions. These interventions aim to improve, update and further articulate the debates exposed, enriching them with new points of view.

 

Pro \ Versi: the debate written at school

The call for a critical approach to information technologies, research, dialogue and correct and referenced information, to stimulate selective and discerning skills is all the more important when we talk about young people. From this inclination towards discussion, debate, and thanks to the many requests received from the teachers, who are a substantial part of our readers, the idea arose to promote education projects for debate in schools.

 

Thus was born the Pro \ Versi project: the debate written at school. The heart of this new section of the site is a declination of the debate methodology in line with our nature: the written argumentative debate, a form of debate that is not a substitute, but a complementary one and if we want to be preparatory to the oral one. This teaching method is capable of encouraging access to knowledge among young people, the acquisition of a greater awareness of civil responsibilities, active participation in democratic processes, usually welcomed with enthusiasm by students because of its playful-competitive key.

 

The argumentative debate written between schools is a comparison between written texts presented by two different teams that express themselves on a specific theme, one team supporting the Pro arguments and the other the Cons arguments, with the help of the software offered by the Pro \ Versi web site . We believe that the use of this technological tool is an added value of the project, since it allows you to exploit a dimension more suited to the habits of young people and at the same time helps them to approach critically to information and communication technologies. The project invites students to make a different use of digital writing (usually linked to social interactions), making it a regulated literary form, which stems from research, from the selection of literary and iconographic sources, from interpretations and reworkings, in a collaborative way.

 

Thus they develop the ability to argue and counter-argue within a project that has primarily a didactic-formative value. It is, for the students, a precious opportunity for democratic confrontation, in which one competes in full compliance with the rules, expressing their own ideas without overriding those of others; creativity and the ability to work in a team are developed. We believe that promoting young people debates on topics of public interest, but also on issues such as citizenship, equality, tolerance, respect, increases the capacity for democratic participation, the spirit of initiative and of enterprise, which among other things are objectives to be pursued in all disciplinary areas, as recalled in some European documents, such as the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of the year 2006, relating to key competences. The need to introduce similar projects in schools arises from multiple considerations, ranging from strengthening students' skills to creating a strong link between civic issues and school curricula. This can stimulate interest in issues concerning the community, preparing young people to take an active role in decision-making processes and, why not, in future politics, finally equipped with dialectical tools suitable for constructive confrontation. In the certainty that this would benefit immensely the impact and effectiveness of digital democracy in the decade that has just begun.

 

Info: nina.celli@proversi.it   https://www.proversi.it

SPEAKER: PROF. ENZO FIMIANI – Historian of the University of Studies “Gabriele D’Annunzio” Chieti-Pescara


In today's meeting in Penne on Digital Democracy, I tried to say two or three discussions that seem simple to me but very often not frequent. The first is that we can understand Europe today only if we look at the long times of history. It is true that the idea of Europe and of the European Union (EU) was born 50-60-70 years ago up to the current lines but in the long times of history this is nothing. The Europeans in their long millennial history have divided themselves in various ways: wars, political tears, differences of various kinds. Bringing these different European identities together to make one bigger is such a bold challenge that it is impossible to expect not to meet exactly the difficulties we are facing. Those who are disappointed today with the idea of the Europe are wrong because they don't have the eyes of the history. Secondly, there is a direct, very close, inextricable interrelation between the idea of Europe and the idea of the Democracy; that is, there is no idea of the Europe without an idea of the democracy. Democracy is also a fairly recent outcome of human history (just over two centuries) and all the problems of democracy are discharged on the idea of the Europe that we have understood and I believe this is an element of difficulty in the process of the European integration. Europe and democracy must be observed with the times of the history: there is neither perfect Europe nor perfect democracy but we must strive to achieve the best possible idea because this is certainly a bet that will allows us to live in a much better world than it has been in the past. So, since we spoke in Penne, a periphery of this European identity, we said that the periphery that closes in itself (also applies to the States that closes in themselves) in a sovereign way erected by anachronistic ends they are destined to get lost in history. The world is now interconnected, global and open. You need to know how to enter your local identities, whether they are peripheral, whether national (like Italy), in a larger dimension. Only in this way will we enhance them.

 

REPORTO OF RETEOTTO TG EDITION 9TH FEBRUARY 2020

 

When the funds of the European Commission reward. This is the case of a project and of an initiative that Manuela Susi talks about. Let's go to Penne.

Journalist Mrs Manuela Susi: Thanks to digital democracy, citizens have a greater chance of intervening in the decision-making processes that affect their Europe. This was the theme of the kick-off meeting of the project "Supporting Democratic Union and Active Citizenship in a Digital Era" which was held in the board room of the Municipality of Penne, where partners from 14 member countries took part, including the same Municipality of Penne (the only Italian partner of the group).

Mr Aldo Di Fabrizio: It is a project that had a good response at European level, ranking second. Digital has been promoted through the European Agenda, e-Government and other official documents. There have been real incentives by the European Commission to develop and use digital technology which had recently a disruptive  effect even in processes involving democracy.

Journalist Mrs Manuela Susi: The work was born in response to the call for proposal under the "Europe for Citizens" program and was ranked second in a list of only 18 funded projects. It received a sum of around 148,000 euros for its construction. The goal of the "Europe for Citizens" program is to support initiatives aimed at improving European knowledge about the history of their countries and increasing participation in direct democracy processes; priorities not to be overlooked considering the drop in turnout in the last European elections.

What is the identity of Europe, how was it built and at what level are we?

Prof. Enzo Fimiani: Today we talked about European identity in one of the European peripheries because Europe is also made above all from its peripheral places. The European Union is closely linked to the idea of the democracy. There is no idea of the Europe and of the European Union without the idea and the practice of democracy. The idea of the European Union is so ambitious that it could not fail to meet the difficulties it is facing because Europeans come from a thousand-year history in which they have beautifully killed each other.

Avv. Sandro Di Minco: Unfortunately, Abruzzo is in third place in a national ranking on digitization in a country that is in fifth place in the European ranking. It is not a good position, despite the European regulatory framework that provides us with a series of rights that citizens struggle to exercise.

Journalist Mrs Manuela Susi:  The meeting was the first of six stages (meetings) to be held in some of the partner countries to stimulate public opinion and improve democratic union in the digital age.

Project Manager Mrs Malgorzata Wochowska: The entire program (the all of this package) of the project aims to build understanding and help politicians and civil organizations to navigate better. Certainly if they could address the various recipients of civil society more efficiently for us this would be an excellent result.

 
 
 
 
 

Presentation by the President of the FMM, Guillermo Hita Téllez, in Spanish and English, as the opening act of the International Event held in Penne (Italy)

Presentation by the General Manager of the FMM, Cristina Moreno, in Spanish and English, as the opening act of the internacional Event held in Penne (Italy)