New project by The GovLab: “With rates of trust in government at historic lows, the legitimacy of traditional representative models of lawmaking — often conducted by professional staff and politicians working behind closed doors and distorted by political party agendas–is called into question. New forms of public participation could help to improve both legitimacy and effectiveness by introducing more data and diverse viewpoints at each stage of the lawmaking process.

CrowdLaw is the practice of using technology to tap the intelligence and expertise of the public in order to improve the quality of lawmaking. Around the world, there are already over two dozen examples of local legislatures and national parliaments turning to the Internet to involve the public in legislative drafting and decision-making. These ambitious crowdlaw initiatives show that the public can, in many cases, go beyond contributing opinions and signing petitions online to playing a more substantive role, including: proposing legislation, drafting bills, monitoring implementation, and supplying missing data. Through such processes, the public becomes collaborators and co-creators in the legislative process to the end of improving the quality of legislative outcomes and the effectiveness of governing.

GovLab is supporting legislative bodies in investigating, designing, implementing, and testing crowdlaw initiatives. Our work includes:

  • Studying and sharing learnings about CrowdLaw practices in use around the world and convening practitioners to share learnings.
  • Synthesizing best practices for the design of CrowdLaw initiatives — including platforms, processes, and policies — through an on-going survey of over 25 public engagement initiatives.
  • Cultivating a thriving network of now more than 90 CrowdLaw and public engagement experts and practitioners.
  • Crafting a model legal framework to accelerate the integration of public input into the legislative process.
  • Advising on the implementation of CrowdLaw practices….(More)”