The evolution of digital technologies over the past twenty years has had a considerable impact on local and regional authorities, whether in terms of the "smart" transformation of cities and regions or the spread of hate speech and fake news. During its 43rd Session on 25 October 2022, in Strasbourg, France, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted two reports on prospects and challenges for local and regional governance.
“Smart” cities and regions cover multiple facets: applications, sensors, software, algorithms, platforms or cameras. In the report prepared by Tony Buchanan (United Kingdom) and Jan Markink (Netherlands, ILDG), the Congress recommends deploying these technologies within the framework of proactive policies to optimise the administration and management of public affairs by developing inclusive initiatives for sustainable and human-centred cities and regions. This requires ensuring the compliance of new technologies and artificial intelligence tools with human rights, democracy and the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular the focus should be on reducing the digital divide, protecting personal data and improving cybersecurity. In addition, the national authorities must provide local authorities with the necessary support for their implementation.
While new technologies can contribute to the quality of territorial democracy, they sometimes have a deleterious effect on public life, particularly via social networks. Prepared by co-rapporteurs Wilma Delissen Van Tongerlo (Netherlands, ILDG) and Kristoffer Tamsons (Sweden, EPP/CCE), the report on hate speech and fake news highlights the toxic impact of these phenomena, online and offline, on the working conditions of local and regional elected representatives and on democracy. Furthermore, the report helps with identifying the right tools and strategies to tackle hate speech and fake news. In particular the Congress calls inter alia for guidance, training and support to local politicians as well as for adequate communication, transparency and openness. It recommends the implementation at the national level of a comprehensive strategy containing legal remedies and preventive measures, involving the relevant stakeholders. There should be no impunity for online and offline threats and attacks against local and regional politicians.
Debate on smart cities and regions:
Video of the debate on Smart cities and regions - prospects for a human rights-based governance approach
Mediabox interview with Tony Buchanan and Jan Markink
Debate on hate speech and fake news:
Speech by Wilma Delissen Van Tongerlo
Video of the debate on Hate speech and fake news: the impact on working conditions of local and regional elected representatives
Mediabox interview with Kristoffer Tamsons
Agenda – Web file – Multimedia (Live webcasts, interviews, videos and photo)