Stanford conference to explore right to information and technology


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Last year, the Icelandic Constitutional Council, made up of 25 citizens, delivered the world’s first crowd-sourced constitution. Finnur Magnusson, the former chief technology officer, will be speaking at the March 11-12 conference on how Iceland's public participated in the drafting the country's new draft constitution via Facebook and Twitter.

A global movement has been underway to use innovative technology platforms to record, store, process, and disseminate public information to advance transparency and accountability. A multitude of actors in government, civil society, and academia have been pioneering innovations to increase citizen engagement and democratic practices worldwide.

On March 11-12, the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is convening a conference to examine these digital tools and their impact on the development of democratic development. Hosted in partnership with U.C. Berkeley’s Data and Democracy Initiative, the two-day conference will bring together academics, practitioners, and policy-makers to examine the theoretical and practical implications of the right to information, transparency, and governance.

Speakers include former Chief Technology Officer of the Icelandic Constitutional Council, Finnur Magnusson, who will share how Iceland’s public participated in the drafting of a new draft constitution through a crowd-sourcing event on Facebook and Twitter. Twenty-five citizens were elected to be part of a council that formulated the draft constitution. Last year, the council delivered the world’s first “crowd-sourced constitution” that included progressive legal reforms for government transparency, human rights, and civic participation.

Representing the City of San Francisco, Deputy Innovation Officer Shannon Spanhake will be discussing the Open Innovation Program. Led by Mayor Edwin M. Lee, the Open Innovation Program enables job creation, citizen engagement, and government efficiency. Last year the program introduced the Improve SF Campaign to encourage the local community to address civic challenges through an online platform. Spanhake will speak about this initiative on a panel devoted to innovations in civic participation with panelists hailing from U.S. and Canadian city governments.

One of the nation’s leading advocates for open government, John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation, will address his work on increasing transparency in the U.S. government, from legislation and accountability in Congress to ethics and information policy in the executive branch. Academic speakers include: Jeremy M. Weinstein, associate professor of political science at Stanford University; Guy Grossman, assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania; Helene Landemore, assistant professor of political science at Yale University; and Daniel Posner, professor of political science at MIT, among others.

Thirty-five speakers will present their papers and initiatives in short plenary sessions and the afternoon will be spent in workshop sessions where participants will have the opportunity to propose a theme of their choice to explore within the right to information theme.

All sessions will be held at Stanford University's Bechtel Conference room in Encina Hall and are free and open to the public. Space is extremely limited so please RSVP here to attend. A complete agenda can be found here

For conference updates via Twitter please visit #RTITECH.