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The Europe Roundup: MPs Are Now Allowed To Tweet in Parliament

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, October 19 2011

  • UK | MPs Are Now Allowed To Tweet in Parliament 
    With 203 votes in favour (and 63 against), British MPs are now officially allowed to tweet during their activities in the Chamber of Commons.
     The vote resolves a debate on the issue that had started in January when Deputy Speaker of the House Lindsay Hoyle moved to ban it. At the time BBC wrote about on the issue:

    Mr Hoyle's Commons intervention came after Mr Brennan demanded to know why Mr Huppert had tweeted that shadow education secretary Andy Burnham had refused to meet education access advocate Simon Hughes, a Lib Dem. 

    The Deputy Speaker replied: "What I can say is that it is for me to keep order in the chamber.
    "I am glad you have brought it to my attention. I am sure no honourable member will be tweeting from the chamber to let the outside world know what is going on." 

    During this last week's debate some Members of the Parliament argued that the use of Twitter would lower the nature of the parliamentary activity and that MPs could be subject to greater outside influence. Conservative MPs Hughes himself added that members distracted by a device would appear "disconnected" from parliament.

    Many other MPs, expecially from Labour Party, spoke in favour of allowing the use of the microblogging tool, though.
    BBC writes:

    Several MPs, however, argued in passionate support of being allowed to tweet, while others suggested that the freedom to use electronic devices in general to "multi-task" while waiting to speak, or hear a particular debate, could boost the number present during debates. 

    […] Shadow deputy Commons leader Angela Smith said "it would be all too easy" to say MPs should pretend that the world had not changed, but added: "To do that would be to deny reality and to deny the dynamic relationship that now exists between Parliament and the world outside." 

    One of them, MP Claire Perry, made an intervention which she asserted to be 138 characters She said: "Tweeting helps MPs to stay informed, in touch and accountable to their constituents and to ban this would be an inexplicable step back in time."
    (it's actually 143 characters).
    As reported by the Guardian:

    MPs also voted to permit themselves to use electronic devices in the chamber as long as they were set to silent and not disruptive but used with "decorum".
    The Commons procedure committee recommended MPs be allowed to use hand-held electronic devices in the chamber, "provided that they are silent, and used in a way that does not impair decorum". They will not be allowed to use laptops. 

    MPs will now be able to read their Commons speeches from the handhelds, and when sitting in select committee meetings they should be able to use laptops. 

    According to the independent news platform TweetMinster, more than 240 MP s use Twitter to communicate with their constituency (and other followers, of course).

  • Sweden | Stockholm Going Open Data 
    The City of Stockholm is going open data with the launch of an open data portal.
    The capital of Sweden has a very good reputation for its long-term work with e-services and it is now doing another step in order to create forms of collaboration with citizens: back in May the City had released the API for information on public services and public facilities in the city.

    The portal's aim is to share with citizens databases, statistics and raw data that citizens can use and combine.
    In an article published on Swedish newspaper Dagens Samhälle Mayor of Stockholm Sten Nordin announces that the first service provided will be the creation of a database called Jämför Service (Sweden for "Compare services") that will allow citizens to compare public services in education, elderly care, parks and sports facilities.

    Mayor Nordin explains this is part of a wider strategy towards more openness and open data, and that the intention is for Stockholm to be on the forefront of innovation. "The next step is to release the source code for Compare Service in a open and accessible format. This allows other municipalities, businesses and individuals create others [services like Compare Services] and fill with new content. The City will continue to drive the development and sharing so that others will benefit." he says.

    The new site does not contain a lot of data or information at the moment. All the further steps can be traced on the development blog of Stockholm's website that covers all the news about e-gov services.

  • EU | 

    Politicians' speeches are important for shaping the policy debate, but they are too often designed as one-way messages. 

    We want to open up conversations around them, by making speeches commentable phrase by phrase.Where best to start than from the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes?

     There's lot of talking from politicians getting committed to new open data initiatives, so why not starting to “release” their own words and see what happens?
    There must have been the thought of EU tech policy consultants David Osimo and Marcello Verona when they created the site contains the speeches of EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes.

    People can comment by simply clicking on a sentence. Interacting with the speech balloon will also allow you to see other people’s comments, and comment on them.

    Commissioner Kroes seems to like the initiative, too!

  • EU | Come Hack4Transparency - Timeline Extension
    Hack4Transparency, the first hacking event in a European institution, extended its deadline: you can submit your application until next Friday 21st by noon (CET).
    Other changes and updates are presented on Google Open Source blog:

    What’s changed?
    • The application deadline for the Internet Quality track has been extended through noon, CET, Friday October 21st (that's this coming Friday).
     • To diversify the skill-set of interested hackers, we’ve added a data visualization option to the Internet Quality track.
     • We’ve expanded the criteria -- now, eligible hackers from anywhere in the world can apply.
    • And, we’ve increased the prize money. One winning team or individual on each track will now receive €5.000,00.

    The hackathon will take place in the European Parliament in Brussels next November 8th and 9th.