Events GovLab Blog Smarter Governance

A growing community of global #CrowdLaw practitioners

Co-authored by Julia Root
On September 24th, The GovLab held its third online global conference on #CrowdLaw. Practitioners from 16 countries discussed the challenges and lessons learned when crowdsourcing legislation and constitutions. The session including lightning talks by practitioners with projects from Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, United States, Morocco, Libya and Spain and then a broader group discussion on three themes:

  • Outreach strategies
  • Designing to overcome barriers; and
  • Measuring impact.

The goal of the conference was to deepen our collective understanding of what works, what doesn’t, how to assess impact, and accelerate the implementation of more effective and legitimate participatory lawmaking practices. 
The full video is available here.
Featured speakers and projects included:

  • PODEMOS, SPAIN – Victoria Alsina, visiting researcher at Harvard, is working with 5 leading politicians of the Spanish political party Podemos to research how they are using technology to increase citizen participation in politics from voting every four years to a more day to day basis. She discussed two tools: the Plaza Podemos, that is based on Reddit and is a place of contact and debate for their followers, organized by thematic and territorial circles. It is used regularly by 15,000 people. They also use Appgree for massive brainstorm sessions and doing quick surveys and for approving proposals. They have had up to 60,000 participants voting on Appgree.
  • NEOS, AUSTRIA – Josef Lentsch, Managing Director of Neos Lab and Karl-Arthur Arlamovsky from Austrian political party NEOS discussed the tools they are using to implement their vision of making politics more open and participatory. Thematic groups at a local, regional and national level composed by thousand of volunteer policy advisors draft policy proposals on “Policy Forge”, a customized collaborative drafting platform. Neos has a cockpit composed of tools such as a calendar, customer relation management system, wiki, meeting software, among others.
  • FINLAND OPEN MINISTRY – Joonas Pekkanen, Founder of Avoin Ministeriö – presented the Finnish civil society organization Open Ministry. Since 2012 it is a constitutional right for citizens to propose legislation and the Open Ministry project provides assistance to citizens or civil society organizations that want to crowdsource these proposals. They have been testing out different ad-hoc tools for crowdsourcing the law proposals. 13 proposals have reached the 50,000 threshold of support to merit a process in parliament and Open Ministry has been involved in six of them. Only one initiative has been approved by congress.
  • LEGISLATION LAB – Tarik Nesh-Nash, co-founder of GovRight, discussed LegislationLab, a platform for citizen participation in the legislative process that was initially used in Morocco in 2011 to crowdsource the draft constitution. They received 10,000 comments and 40% of them are reflected in the new constitution. The platform now supports 9 languages and is being used in Chile and in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
  • LIBYAN CONSTITUTIONAL CROWDSOURCING – Sean Deely, Senior Planning Advisor for the Syria Crisis Response with the UN in Amman – and formerly a Senior Recovery Advisor for the United Nations in Libya –  presented a series of civic engagement initiatives and an e-participation platform (Icon Libya) used during Libya’s constitutional reform and leading up to the 2014 election constitutional reform. Icon Libya was designed in consultation with GovRight’s Legislation Lab.
  • CHILEAN CONSTITUTIONAL CROWDSOURCING – Daniela Hirsch, lawyer from Chile presented La Constitución de Todos (Everyone’s Constitution), a volunteer run project that through the Legislation Lab Platform is enabling the crowd to participate in a public debate about reforming Chile’s constitution. The organization’s goals for the three-month-old project are to generate a space for the public to participate in reforming the constitution; and to offer civic education through the platform to strengthen citizens’ understanding of the political process.
  • NYC PARTICIPATORY LAWMAKING – Ben Kallos, 5th District Councilmember for the City of New York, is leading the way in New York City on government 2.0: interacting with citizens using tech and social media and employing tools such as Drupal, Madison, LegislationLab, calendar and scheduling apps to enable constituents to contribute, comment and engage with him in addition to traditional government 1.0 events, such as in-person meetings, town halls and open houses.
  • E-DEMOCRACIA, BRAZIL – Cristiano Ferri Faria, head of the Labhacker of the Brazilian House of Representatives which functions as a hybrid body that engages primarily with public officials but also CSOs, discussed the e-Democracia Project. The platform and mobile phone app offer collaboration, crowdsourcing and video tools for members of congress to lead and listen to online conversations. The platform also uses live chat during hearings to crowdsource opinions and facts during a legislative hearing process. A wiki tool for crowdsourcing legislation was successfully used for an internet regulations law where specific contributions from the crowd were written into the final bill.
  • PLATAFORMA BRASIL – Ronaldo Lemos, Director of the Institute for Technology & Society of Rio de Janeiro discussed Plataforma Brasil, a platform for multistakeholder policymaking. It was first put to use over 7 years ago for the “Marco Civil” or Constitution for the Internet. Now with a refined set of tools and methodology, the Institute deployed a pilot to discuss political reform in Brazil with the goal of breaking down a complex subject into piecemeal parts. With the crowd’s input and over 35,000 votes on the topic of polical reform in Brazil, 5 topics were then framed for deeper exploration. The platform then transformed these 5 topics into questions for further engagement with citizens. A second pilot on Public Safety will commence in October 2015.

Next week, we will share summaries of the take-aways and learnings of the conference.
Relive the twitter discussion during the conference on Storify.
More resources on CrowdLaw:

  • The GovLab’s videos and summaries of the two prior meetings held on June 2 and June 16, 2014, with representatives from 11 countries.
  • The GovLab’s publicly accessible crowdlaw Zotero folder, featuring research resources on the subject.
  • @TheGovLab’s #Crowdlaw Twitter List to follow and learn about CrowdLaw developments from practitioners and leaders online.
CrowdSourcing Events GovLab Blog

September 24th Global Online Conference on #CrowdLaw

On Thursday, September 24th from 9:30am – 11:30am EDT, The GovLab will host its third online gathering of CrowdLaw practitioners from around the world. This third installment in an ongoing series on the evolution of CrowdLaw — crowdsourced legislative and regulatory lawmaking — aims to enable participants to share their experiences and learn from one another.
With several #CrowdLaw experiments already well underway and celebrating their first or even second anniversaries, the goal of this session is to deepen our collective understanding of what works, what doesn’t, how to assess impact, and accelerate the implementation of more effective and legitimate participatory lawmaking practices.
Confirmed participants include:

How to Participate? The session will be held online, September 24, 9:30 – 11:30 am EDT.
How Do I Log In? Clic on this link or join by phone: +1 415 762 9988 (US Toll) using the meeting ID: 943 543 497. International numbers available here.
Conference Format? The discussion will begin with a series of lightning talks by practitioners from eight countries about their experiences. Presentations will be 5 minutes and will focus on key learnings about what works and what doesn’t. Following the presentations, we will have a moderated conversation about: 

  • Design: What makes for successful Crowdlaw projects: what works, what doesn’t
  • Incentives: How to encourage people to participate?
  • Impediments: What are the legal, cultural, technological and other obstacles?
  • Metrics: How to measure what works and demonstrate both legitimacy and effectiveness?

We invite you to tune into the event on Thursday and submit any and all questions you have to the event chat or to @TheGovLab on Twitter or using the hashtag #crowdlaw.
If you’d like more resources on CrowdLaw, please see:

  • The GovLab’s summaries and videos of the two prior meetings held on June 2 and June 16, 2014, with representatives from 11 countries.
  • The GovLab’s publicly accessible crowdlaw Zotero folder, featuring research resources and material on the subject.
  • @TheGovLab’s #Crowdlaw Twitter List to follow and learn about CrowdLaw developments from practitioners and leaders online.
Events GovLab Blog Internet Governance

Event Recap and Key Takeaways: The Conference on Internet Governance and Cyber-Security #SIPACyber

Last week, the GovLab participated in the Conference on Internet Governance and Cyber-Security, held at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in collaboration with The Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG). The event spanned two days and covered several pressing topics in Internet governance, including privacy, freedom of expression, cross-border data flows, and cyber-risks in critical infrastructure. The conference brought together representatives from academia, industry, government, the technical community, and civil society, stating that “only by convening these diverse interests is it likely that effective policy frameworks can be developed over time.”
During the first and second plenaries, panelists discussed the future of the Internet and multi-stakeholder Internet governance. Some key narratives from these panels include:

  • There is a need to preserve the global reach and integrity of the Internet, and the “Universal Internet” isn’t a function of a particular set of technologies but of choices we make
  • The network is becoming fragmented, and we must answer questions such as “if there is a move for increased regulation, will it enable innovation?” and “where should governments and different actors place themselves?”
  • The conversation should shift from data security to data integrity, which includes security but also reliability and authenticity
  • Kathy Brown of the Internet Society called for a “collaborative model” as decisions cannot be made in a vacuum
  • Fadi Chehade, CEO of ICANN, stated that the logical infrastructure of the Internet is safe and resilient, and that the real issue will now be what is happening on the Internet, not the logical layer, as expressed in the President Ilves report

In face of these challenges in governance, Beth Noveck, the director of the GovLab, discussed how the Internet is allowing us to transform the ways in which we govern. According to Noveck, we have new tools that allow us to reach out and pinpoint people based on desired characteristics, such as level of expertise or representation or status. Through these tools, there is potential to evolve multistakeholderism from a dated concept into something that allows us to be more legitimate and effective. In emphasizing the need to become informed about who is involved in the space, she asked participants to check out the NETmundial Solutions Map, a tool the GovLab is working on to aid greater collaboration in the field of Internet governance.
The second day focused on issues specifically related to cybersecurity, including the cyber-risks of critical infrastructure and the new threats posed by the Internet of Things. Some key messages include:

  • Michael Chertoff, GCIG Commissioner, stated that it is not clear to identify those behind cyberattacks, and thus responsibility lies with enterprises themselves
  • It is not enough to be secure, but organizations also have to effectively communicate to the market that they are secure
  • Some of the big challenges with the Internet of Things, according to GCIG Commissioner Tobby Simon are 1) security of the device itself, 2) the platform the device is built on and its vulnerabilities, and 3) how and where the device is used
  • One of the main threats presented by the Internet of Things lies in the fact that any given device is connected to the rest of your network; as Rima Qureshi of Ericsson explained, the device is a backdoor into the larger system

To read or watch more about the event, check out the transcripts and session videos here.
To stay informed about developments in the Internet governance space please check out our weekly SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net Governance. Also check out our recent curation of Internet governance calendars to stay informed about upcoming events and conferences in this space.
Finally, if you are interested and want to find out more about how to contribute to the NETmundial Solutions Map, please contact Stefaan Verhulst (stefaan at

Events GovLab Blog Internet Governance

Where can you find out what is happening on Internet Governance? A curation of eight calendars

The world of Internet Governance is complex and dynamic. To help navigate the Internet Governance ecosystem, the NETmundial Solutions Map seeks to provide a platform to exchange and document what responses exist to what issues and who is involved in the space.
The design of the map was informed by a set of user interviews. During these interviews, we heard over and over again the additional need to be able to identify and navigate the profusion of events in this space. Below, we have curated and compared a list of calendars covering global events you can use to become smarter about upcoming events and conferences in this field.

Calendar Hosting Organization Description Searchable Filters Option to Subscribe (Email or RSS Feed)

Calendar of Events

Association for Computing Machinery, “the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society” Events of a more technical nature Yes No Yes
imgresUpcoming Events The Diplo Internet Governance Community, an open “community of IG and ICT policy professionals from around the world” A wide range of Internet governance events Yes Has tags Yes
imgres  Events calendar The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a “nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world” Digital rights events No No Yes
twittergip_0Events calendar Geneva Internet Platform, “an observatory, a capacity building centre (online and in situ), and a centre for discussion” and “an initiative of the Swiss authorities operated by DiploFoundation” A wide range of global Internet governance events Yes No No
1280750336icann_logoICANN Calendar ICANN, “a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable” A wide range of global Internet governance events including ICANN meetings Yes Yes Yes
igf-logo-s_0Meetings Internet Governance Forum (IGF), “serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the Internet” A list of regional, national and international IGFs and other Internet governance events Yes Yes No
imgres-1Events Calendar Internet Society, “a global cause-driven organization governed by a diverse Board of Trustees that is dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open, transparent and defined by you” A list of upcoming and past Internet governance events Yes Yes No
The NETmundial Initiative, “seeks to carry forward the cooperative spirit of São Paulo by enabling opportunities for collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders” A wide range of global Internet governance events No Yes Yes

You can also read more about recent developments in this space in the GovLab SCAN, a weekly curated selection of articles on Internet governance.
Please let us know by emailing samantha at if there are additional sources to be included in the above table, or an upcoming event you think we should include in the GovLab SCAN!

Events GovLab Blog

Event Today: Internet Governance and Citizen Engagement – Why think of them together?

Today at 4:30 pm, GovLab Founder and Director Beth Noveck will lead a discussion about how citizen engagement can lead to more effective and legitimate Internet governance. Professor Noveck will be joined by Ronald Lemos, Director of the Institute for Technology and Society. The event will take place at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in Room 802.
Citizen Engagement and IG event flyer

Events GovLab Blog Internet Governance

Event: Will the "Internet of Things" Set Us Free or Lock Us Up?

Howard jacket mech.indd
Date: Monday, April 20, 2015, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Location: The Institute for Public Knowledge
Address: 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003
Click here to RSVP to this event.
The Institute for Public Knowledge and The Governance Lab (GovLab) invite you to join us for a conversation with Philip Howard and Clive Thompson on Howard’s new book Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up. 

Should we fear or welcome the internet’s evolution? The latest smart televisions now watch us, and report on our behavior to their manufacturers.  If you don’t pay the bills on your car loan, the bank may shut down your car while you are hiking in a park.  The latest pacemaker may save your life, but the data on your heartbeats doesn’t belong to you or your doctor.  Recently, a refrigerator was caught sending spam.  The “internet of things” is made up of device networks—connected eyeglasses, cows, thermostats—with sensors and internet addresses. Soon we will be fully immersed in a pervasive yet invisible network of everyday objects that communicate with one another. There is lots of evidence that the internet of things will be used to repress and control people. The privacy threats are enormous, as is the potential for social control and political manipulation. Yet we should also imagine a future of global stability built upon device networks with immense potential for empowering citizens, making government transparent, and broadening information access. If we can actively engage with the governments and businesses building the internet of things, we have a chance to build a new kind of internet—and a more open society.
Philip N. Howard is a professor of technology and international affairs at the University of Washington and Central European University. He is the author of eight books, including The Managed Citizen, the Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, and now Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up. He is a frequent commentator on technology and politics for the national and international media. He blogs at and tweets from @pnhoward.
Clive Thompson is a journalist and the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. He specializes in writing not merely on the inventors of technologies, but about how everyday people use them—often quite unpredictably. In addition to the New York Times Magazine and Wired, he writes for Mother Jones and Smithsonian. He is one of the longest-running bloggers, having launched his science-and-tech blog Collision Detection since 2002. In his spare time he’s also a musician, performing in The Delorean Sisters and writing original music as part of the duo Cove.