Democracy and technology
Digital transformation touches all aspects of life and is accelerating at great speed, fuelled by progress in computing power, connectivity and the increased availability of data and capacities to process it. Digital transformation promises to improve efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and openness of governance, to promote sustainability and to increase accountability and civil participation. At the same time, digital technologies pose risks to democracy and governance, in particular with regards to privacy, data protection and undue surveillance to name a few.
The CDDG provides guidance to member States, at all levels of government, to reap the benefits of digital transformation while minimising its risks, thus strengthening trust in public institutions. At the moment, the CDDG is working on the following areas:
The Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on electronic democracy (e-democracy) sets out the key principles with regards to e-democracy. The CDDG has developed a Handbook to help all the stakeholders of the democratic process to make the best use digital technologies to strengthen democracy and governance.
The impact of digital transformation on democracy and governance
In 2020-2021, the CDDG prepared a study on the impact of the digital transformation, including artificial intelligence and automated decision-making, on democracy and good governance. While doing so, the CDDG also contributed to the activities of the Ad hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI).
In its study, the CDDG examined the potentials and risks of digital transformation for democracy and governance. In particular, it looked at the impact of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and automated decision making, on the formation of democratic institutions, on public decision-making and democratic oversight. With regards to governance, the study explored how the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance were impacted by the use of digital technologies, including AI, in the public sector.
New technologies in the electoral process
In 2020-2021, the CDDG will be developing standards on new technologies and the different stages of the electoral process (including voter registration, transmission and tabulation of results, etc.) in the form of a Committee of Minsters’ recommendation or guidelines. This task is a follow-up to the Secretary General’s reports on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law and takes into account the outcome of the 129th Session of the Committee of Ministers in Helsinki as well as the work of the Venice Commission in this area.
In addition, in 2019, the CDDG held a review meeting on the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on standards for e-voting. The CDDG highlighted that Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)5 on e-voting was very useful for countries that were considering introducing it and for those which had e-voting already in place. The CDDG concluded that there was a need for constantly reviewing the implementation of the Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)5 and that it would hold another review meeting in 2021.