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Iceland Taps Facebook To Rewrite Its Constitution 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-have-a-pending-rights-request dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Iceland is finally overhauling its constitution, and it has turned to the Internet to get input from citizens. More specifically, the 25-member council drafting the new constitution is reaching out to its citizens through Facebook. Two thirds of Iceland's population (approximately 320,000) is on Facebook, so the constitutional council's weekly meetings are broadcast live not only on the council's website, but on the social network as well. 'It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook,' said Berghildur Bernhardsdottir, spokeswoman for the constitutional review project."
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Iceland Taps Facebook To Rewrite Its Constitution

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  • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:22AM (#36459764) Journal

    I guess "reliance on large private corporations for operation of and participation in government" is going to be part of the new constitution? Not that it isn't de facto part of every other modern Western constitution, but now they've announced the overhaul it seems to me the right time to start being open about how the world runs now.

    • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:48AM (#36459874)
      Iceland has set a shining example to the rest of the world on how NOT to be subjected to never-ending corporate control [forbes.com]. An example that other countries citizens are fighting in the streets (literally) to try and follow.
      • 'It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook ,' said Berghildur Bernhardsdottir, spokeswoman for the constitutional review project."

        • by digitig (1056110)
          Yes, and I bet before this people arranged meetings by telephone over systems run by large private corporations, drove to meetings in cars made by large private corporations using fuel supplied by large private corporations and took notes on laptop computers made by large private corporations or on paper made by large private corporations with pens made by large private corporations. So what's new here?
      • by rolfwind (528248)

        That article you linked to was full of shit. The richer EU nations have consistently given money to poorer areas in the EU (although imo it isnt their responsibility). The US bailing out its carmakers is not an example of the govt bailing out economically depressed area (vs companies). Flint, MI is going to stay as poor as ever. And Greece is in trouble largely through its own overspending - ie everyone there wants to be early retiring overpaid underworked bureaucrat there.

        And that was only from the ope

        • by Rei (128717) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @03:52AM (#36460134) Homepage

          Indeed. So many people are perpetuating this false notion about the Icelandic crisis.

          1) Iceland *has* taken austerity measures, and pretty significant ones -- about 40% cuts, 60% revenue.

          2) Iceland *did* pump significant money into their banks -- nearly a year's worth of GDP as loans. However, they did it *after* the banks went into receivership. This let them fully bail out their own citizens while not fully bailing out the citizens of other countries who invested. This is actually the basis for the legal case against them.

          3) This action is the reason that, contrary to popular misconception, the Icelandic crisis is *far* from over. This isn't about banks, the IMF, some shadowy cartel, or whatnot trying to force Iceland to pay back vague "debts". Rather, it's about paying back UK and Dutch citizens for their maximum insurable losses in their Icesave accounts. Individuals, not institutional investors, and the entities seeking the payback are the UK and Dutch governments. Iceland rejected reduced settlements with them in the referendum, so now they're having to fight paying back the *full* cost in the EFTA court system. If they lose, things will go very badly for them. One thing that may help is that the estates of the collapsed banks appear to be larger than expected, so they may be able to pay off most if not all of the overseas accounts just from that.

          4) In a way, this is as much aggravated by old rivalries [wikipedia.org] than anything else, esp. with the UK. It certainly didn't help matters that the UK invoked a provision designed for terrorists against Iceland to sieze Landsbanki assets in the UK. It's so crazy that I sometimes run into British people online talking about how they should sue Iceland for the volcanoes.

          I don't know that Iceland's approach was right or wrong. They definitely got themselves into a lot of trouble with their domestic bailout. But as for taking things to the EFTA, only time will see how that goes. I do find it admirable that they've thrown their legal system not just at the bankers that caused the mess, but the politicians who stood by or were complicit in allowing it to happen. Their real problem is that their banking crisis was so much larger than their economy, so when other nations wanted them to insure against the losses from their banks, well...

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:18AM (#36460608) Homepage

            I have little sympathy for people who invested in Icelandic banks from overseas. They gave very favourable interest rates and returns in exchange for greater risk, and people are now complaining that they never expected that risk to actually materialise. Well, too bad, you took a chance and lost. The system in the UK compensates you up to (IIRC) £35k if you are a private individual but beyond that you are on your own.

            I had an account with an Indian bank for a couple of years to get their high interest rates, but I never expected the same security as from a UK bank.

          • One of the central points made by the research professor in his analysis [forbes.com] was not all or none on austerity measures - but that the taxpayers were very correct in not agreeing to foot the total losses of the private banking sector - to the extent that Iceland would never be able to repay the private sector losses+interest, and so avoid entering national level "debt slavery" that they can never escape from. Besides the overwhelming evidence presented to support his analysis (including the "Brady bonds that res

        • by daem0n1x (748565)

          Needless to say, people/countries that don't pay back debts won't find a lot of investment dollars going their way. That's the price of walking away.

          Who said we want dollars? Are you still living in the 80s?

      • by arisvega (1414195)

        Iceland has set a shining example

        It has, but Greece (mentioned in your linked article) cannot follow Iceland's example without dumping the euro; as long as it is its national currency, Greece does not get to inflate it or tweak any other of its parameters. Plus Greece has next to nothing production and exports, so not much of value there either. Take the euro and the EU credibility away, and there will be nobody willing to invest in Greece.

    • by Kokuyo (549451)

      They use a readily available media where they reach two thirds of their population. At the same time, they operate another portal, so they do not depend on that private organization.

      How could you even ask for more than that? How is this not exactly the right thing to combine independence with available, modern technology?

      Jesus, you'd find something to complain about if you could have your cake and eat it, too, methinks.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Yeah because traditional referendums don't rely on corporations to print their ballots, corporations to make the voting booths, corporations to make the buildings the process happens in, the chairs people sit on, the transport people use to get to the polls, etc.
      • Yeah because traditional referendums don't rely on corporations to print their ballots,

        None of your examples are about the citizens needing to make an explicit choice to use a single private business in order to be able to participate fully in constitutional change. The analogy here would be requiring me to buy Dunbal(R) Branded Paper(TM) before I can write down my choice.

        corporations to make the voting booths,

        Is there a standardised voting booth design? Does a single private firm have to build one for every polling station across the country? Do I actually have to walk into the booth before I fill in my ballot paper?

        corporations to make the buildings the process happens in,

        Or public bui

    • They should log the entire country on to Eve Online and debate their constitution there.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      I guess "reliance on large private corporations for operation of and participation in government" is going to be part of the new constitution?

      "Reliance" is an extreme way to view this situation. Iceland is communicating with its citizens where they are.

      Currently, Iceland is my favorite nation on Earth. The fact that as a country they decided to put their people ahead of bankers is simply amazing. I'm surprised we haven't sent bombers over there to bring them into line.

      If we had done the same in 2008 we'd

      • by imroy (755)

        "Reliance" is an extreme way to view this situation. Iceland is communicating with its citizens where they are.

        What about the one third of citizens who aren't there (on Facebook)? Are they now essentially second-class citizens as far as this council is concerned? They're encouraging people to sign up to a foreign, third-party, commercial service in order to participate in their own government. That just isn't right to me.

  • Farcebook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad.YEATSco.uk minus poet> on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:30AM (#36459796) Homepage

    'It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook,' said Berghildur Bernhardsdottir

    Because we thought it would be fun to actively discourage 1/3 of our population from being involved in the discussion...

    • by Grygus (1143095)

      'It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook,' said Berghildur Bernhardsdottir

      Because we thought it would be fun to actively discourage 1/3 of our population from being involved in the discussion...

      If 2/3 of the population is using one platform, couldn't that automatically mean that most of the discussion would take place there, regardless of anyone's wishes? I think you may be seeing an agenda where there is only acceptance of reality.

      • If 2/3 of the population is using one platform, couldn't that automatically mean that most of the discussion would take place there, regardless of anyone's wishes?

        Oh absolutely - the majority of the discussion would be on the (social) platform that people largely use.

        However:

        I think you may be seeing an agenda where there is only acceptance of reality.

        The reality of the matter is that while 2/3rds of Iceland's population may have a facebook account, the Icelandic government is still, will, a government.

        And

    • Hey, the politicians and all their friends use facebook, which means everyone uses facebook. Besides, disenfranchising the lower 1/3 of society is OK, they never have anything interesting to say. Bunch of fucking rednecks (yes, Iceland has their analogue).
      • by dargaud (518470)

        Hey, the politicians and all their friends use facebook, which means everyone uses facebook. Besides, disenfranchising the lower 1/3 of society is OK, they never have anything interesting to say. Bunch of fucking rednecks (yes, Iceland has their analogue).

        I don't know about Iceland, but in Italy every bum on the street has a cell phone, given to them by the various non-profits that follow them. So the 1/3 who is not connected either doesn't speak the language, is older than combustion engines, hasn't yet mastered the use of its sphincter or is fucking retarded. No loss there.

      • Bunch of fucking rednecks (yes, Iceland has their analogue).

        Well, to be fair, *every* country has its analogue.

    • I just hope, they don't vote about it with clicking "Like".

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      As opposed to most places that actively discourage 90% of the population from being involved in the discussion.

      If they can show that people's opinions and ideas actually count it would be a major step forward for democracy, as important as the universal vote IMHO.

      • At least the 10% who participate in the old ways would know what protections they have about free speech. And they will be sure no private company would be able to data mine, who influenced whom and find the real source of ideas that shift the power to the people instead of vested interests and "take care of them".
  • Iceland taps Facebook

    Sorry, but my first thought was a puerile one. Quite fitting, since I think Facebook is fucking over a lot of people everyday, it was just their turn to get "tapped".

  • courtesy of one of its more successful businesses:

    "No one shall engage in unprovoked ganks in Empire highsec, on pain of being CONCORDOKKEN'd [youtube.com]."

    /still checking through early drafts, looking for the page where they inserted the phrase "HARDEN THE F**K UP"

  • Big deal...

    Here is a plausible scheme

    930 [Country] Taps Free Men To Rewrite Its Constitution
    1900 [Country] Taps Newspapers To Rewrite Its Constitution
    1920 [Country] Taps The Radio Show To Rewrite Its Constitution
    1940 [Country] Taps Telephone Company To Rewrite Its Constitution
    1960 [Country] Taps The TV Show To Rewrite Its Constitution
    2010 [Country] Taps Internet Site To Rewrite Its Constitution

    So, where is the relevant news?

  • The claim that 2/3rds of the Icelandic population is on facebook, based on the number of facebook accounts listed in Iceland? That seems sketchy to me. I would be hesitant to accept every one of those accounts as actually belonging to a real person, actually living in Iceland. Back when I used ICQ, I used to say I was in Uzbekistan, but I don't think the ICQ guys were silly enough to count me as an Uzbek citizen.
  • The hand that giveth is above the hand that receiveth. If the government gets its money from the bank, then the bank is in control. Iceland's constitution should ensure that only the government has the right to issue the Icelandic currency and that currency must be debt free! If Iceland does that, and they keep the amount of currency under control so that there is no deflation or inflation, then everyone will flock to their currency and they will be rich.

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond

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