Internet Representation

Firstly, a warning; this post is not about astronomy and even touches on politics so stop reading if that is likely to annoy (or bore) you.

I write this post after having followed the UK's Digital Economy Bill as it raced through several steps of the parliamentary process with very little engagement by Members of Parliament. Only around 30 MPs (of 646) bothered to take part in discussions about it on Tuesday night and the proponents of the Bill didn't really seem to understand these things we call the Internet and the world-wide web (kudos to the few MPs who did show that they understand the issues or had concerns about the rushed way the legislation was enacted with little time for sanity checking). My MP failed to show any interest in the Bill just as he showed little interest in my concerns over STFC. Anyway, all this got me thinking about representation in the digital age.

MPs represent a constituency in Parliament. Constituencies each contain roughly 68,500 voters. Traditionally a constituency is a specific geographical area but what if Parliament were to create an Internet constituency? Perhaps 68,500 UK voters could agree to be taken off the electoral role of their geographical constituency and added to a non-geographic constituency. The elected MP for this non-geographical constituency would be just like any other but would be representing people who live in an online world.

There are plenty of problems with such an idea. Who would organise and run the voting process? The Electoral Commission might be suitable for that job. Voting would have to be secure, full of safeguards to prevent fraud, and keep anonymity in the voting process. Getting your new Internet MP to do something about your local school/hospital etc would also be difficult (your local school isn't their local school) but then local councillors should probably be doing that sort of thing anyway. Would the population of the non-geographical constituency fluctuate too much for it to be viable? Would one such constituency be enough? Getting in touch with your MP won't be any harder and might even be easier given that they are likely to know how to use email and Twitter. There are likely to be many issues with such an idea but, given how useless my MP has been over the past few years, I'd be willing to give it a try for one term of Parliament.

Of course, this idea may just seem neat because it is past 4am and I can't get to sleep.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 08th Apr 2010 (04:35 BST) | Permalink
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