Digital Technology and the Resurrection of Trust Contents

Chapter 5: Inclusive debate across society

218.As a Committee, we were keen to explore the full effects of digital technologies on democracy, including the positive effects. In our evidence, we have detected a tension between technology as a democratising force that has enabled citizens to contribute to democratic debate, and as a threat to democracy. We have seen, in recent years, optimism towards technology’s potential for enabling democracy in the wake of events, such as the Arab Spring in 2011, giving way to pessimism and distrust.357

219.This Chapter will set out how technology can better support democracy by encouraging inclusive debate across society. We begin by discussing how technology can support democracy and aid in tackling some of the challenges it faces now and into the future. We then go onto consider how Parliament and government at all levels could better use technology to enhance democracy. The potential exists to build on the Nolan principle of accountability–digital technologies can greatly aid the process of holding authorities accountable regarding the decisions and actions they take. We are optimistic, but realistic, about the positive effect technology can have on democracy in this country, and caution that technology should not be seen as a panacea, nor a cheap and easy way of tackling the structural issues that have in recent years undermined support for representative democracy.

220.Our evidence on this was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lockdown measures across the UK and forced most people to rely on digital technologies far more than usual. This has demonstrated why it is so important that we use digital innovation to enhance democracy at all levels.

The role of technology in tackling the challenges facing democracy

Supporting technological innovation in democracy

221.The argument that democratic processes have not kept up with societal expectations brought about by digital technology has been raised with us repeatedly. This is important because there is a danger that democracy may be considered increasingly outmoded and irrelevant in a digital era.

222.The democratising potential of technology was made clear to us by leading academics. Professor Helen Margetts from the University of Oxford told us that social media “allows new tiny acts of political participation that were not possible before. Politics used to be very lumpy; it was the preserve of an activist elite” and that “we should not lose sight of the fact that social media allows anybody with a mobile phone to fight injustice or campaign for policy change.”358 Dr Martin Moore from King’s College London warned against being either utopian or dystopian about technology, but agreed that we were undergoing a period of “radical transformation” and that the hurdles to participation have reduced, whereby “the gatekeepers, particularly the mainstream media and the main political parties, have essentially lost their monopoly and dominance of the [democratic] process.”359 Research conducted by Professor Cristian Vaccari from Loughborough University has found that social media both deepens and broadens political participation: it deepens participation by increasing the range of activities one can do; and broadens it by bringing in citizens who were previously less likely to participate.360

223.We also heard that UK democracy has not kept pace with advancements in technology. Efforts to aggregate basic information about local elections, candidates and results were being made by small civic technology organisations such as Democracy Club and MySociety, many of whom rely on volunteer efforts to support a small core of paid staff. Democracy Club suggested that people were using technology to find out basic information about the UK’s democratic process. They stated that the most searched for questions on Google around elections include ‘where do I vote’ and ‘who are my candidates’. There is no central source of information about candidates, polling locations and results. Democracy Club run a volunteer scheme to collect and supply this information to the Electoral Commission and several news organisations. However, they were clear that they are not a sustainable long-term source for citizens to get this sort of information which they rely upon.361

224.Joe Mitchell from Democracy Club used the comparator of the way in which technology had transformed transport information. He explained that transport apps on people’s phones that help people travel are made possible by public bodies publishing open data. Mr Mitchell explained that an equivalent app to help engagement with democratic processes is not possible because there is not the same amount of open data.362

225.One of the most widely touted benefits of digital technology for democracy is the democratisation of information. Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the UCL Constitution Unit, has argued for a wide array of information to be available for the public to use.363 He has suggested that this should include basic procedural information, on when, where and how to vote; factual information, about candidates including their biographies; positional information to help voters find out where parties and candidates stand on specific policy issues; and analytical information, assessing the likely effect of manifesto policies from each party. The provision of this information is also important to counter against the misleading alternative sources of information which arise around election time.364

226.Tim Hughes, Director of Involve, a public participation charity, told us that some of the best uses of digital technology so far have made some of the processes of representative democracy easier for people to engage with. He pointed to MySociety’s work on this and to platforms such as TheyWorkForYou, a parliamentary monitoring site, and WhatDoTheyKnow, a site designed to help people make Freedom of Information requests, both of which make it a lot easier for citizens to engage with representative institutions.365 Around elections, projects are set up by small civic technology organisations that enable people to engage with manifestos, with quizzes encouraging people to see which political party best fits their view, with polling station finders and much more.366

227.The COVID-19 pandemic will be the subject of analysis of all types for many years to come. However, it has brought the arguments made by Mr Hughes and Dr Renwick into a new context. Digital tools can be used to expand participation and access to information in situations where both the knowledge and impact are local. Council processes could be opened up for general observation and participation, easing access for both local residents and local journalists. We advocate government support of innovative uses of digital technologies in local government.

228.There are 650 Westminster parliamentary constituencies in the UK. This essentially means that at a General Election there are 650 local campaigns happening at once. On top of this, at defined points, there are local government elections, elections to the devolved institutions, mayoral elections, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. However, factual data about elections is not aggregated online by an official institution. The Electoral Commission’s website shows upcoming elections based on a given postcode, but this is far from a comprehensive list of how to vote, where to vote and who the candidates are.

229.We currently lean far too heavily on tiny civic organisations, who aggregate information and do a lot of work out of goodwill and a genuine desire to open up the democratic process. Democracy Club suggested that if local authorities were to publish data to certain standards then it could be easily aggregated and shown to people more widely. We agree that local authorities are well placed to publish this information, but local authority capacity is already stretched. Many local authorities already do put out information on their web pages on which elections are taking place. However, this should be comprehensive, machine-readable and uniformly available across all local authorities.

230.The House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement recommended in 2018 that local authorities should improve the way they notify the public about electoral information using open and machine readable formats and that the Government should ensure that across all levels of Government, data for democratic engagement is available in an open digital format. On the former point, the Government responded that it was for local authorities to determine how best to notify citizens. On the latter, the Government pointed towards their ‘Atlas of Democratic Variation’, which consists of visual maps displaying data and trends in democratic engagement across different areas.367 This is a pdf document that was last updated in January 2019.368 It is not sufficiently informative, it is difficult to find, not widely known about and is not kept up to date. It is an underwhelming resource and does not show a particularly engaged commitment to digitising and aggregating democratic information.

231.If debate is to be truly inclusive, it is important that any information published about elections is comprehensive and accessible to people of different education levels; all eligible members of society must be able to access information designed to ease participation, rather than raising the barriers of understanding further.

232.Local authorities should be required to publish open, machine-readable information on elections, including what elections are taking place, who the candidates are and where polling stations are located.

233.Any information about democratic processes published by government at any level should be available in accessible language.

Online voting

234.One of the topics that is often raised when democracy and digital technologies are discussed is the issue of online voting. We heard from Siim Kumpas, an Adviser to the Government Office of Estonia, about Estonia’s extremely popular internet voting system. He said that this worked because “basically everything” was online and so people had become accustomed to digital public services.369 We also note that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the question of online voting to greater prominence; an example would be the 2020 Democratic Wisconsin primary, which took place in the midst of the pandemic, which contributed to the record number of people who voted ‘absentee’ (not in person).370 It is likely that the pandemic will affect how political campaigning, and perhaps even voting itself, is conducted in the coming months and years. We received a small amount of evidence that was in favour of online voting.371 In the round, however, opinion was overwhelmingly against introducing voting online.

235.We heard that online voting might cause people to question the trustworthiness of election results and create fertile ground for conspiracy theories. On the day that we heard from experts on foreign interference and democratic resilience, the news was dominated by the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses, where a three-day delay in reporting results was due, in part, to problems with an app used to report voting totals. Elisabeth Braw from RUSI told us that the perception of interference, rather than proven fact, was a crucial factor. She suggested that the Iowa Democratic caucus was the perfect example of electoral interference–without knowing what happened to the apps, everybody’s assumption would be that they were hacked and while “It could be just that an inept IT company developed it … now we are already worrying about the legitimacy of the outcome of the Democratic nomination in Iowa.”372 Ben Scott added that this type of event provided fertile ground for conspiracy theories, which could easily be spread on social media, and amplified by hostile actors aiming to undermine the democratic process.373 The public need to fundamentally trust the electoral process if they are to have faith in democracy; the electoral process is more difficult to safeguard and vulnerable to attack when it is online.

236.Joe Mitchell from Democracy Club rejected the idea that people do not vote because it is not made available on an app and referred to polling Democracy Club had conducted at the 2019 Election. They found that the people they polled did not vote because they did not have enough information. He also cited security reasons as an argument not to introduce online voting.374 MySociety suggested that online voting posed a security risk and increased barriers to participation.375 Privacy International stated that electronic voting processes were often implemented without sufficient consideration for their privacy and security implications.376 The Open Rights Group pointed to the examples of the Netherlands, who stopped using online voting several years ago, citing security concerns, and Norway, who curtailed trials of online voting after finding that it did not increase turnout amongst under-represented groups.377 We strongly warn against using technology simply for its own sake.

237.Exercising your democratic vote is an important act that should have some ceremony about it; visiting a polling station, for those for whom this is possible, is an important part of this. We should not seek to substitute or undermine this significant and important act with an online process.

Technology as a tool, but not a panacea for problems facing democracy

238.We heard about the important role that technology can play in engaging people with the democratic process. Academics have been debating democratic decline and deconsolidation in the West for decades; some have posited that harnessing technology might be a solution to confronting that decline. However, we note Dr Martin Moore’s warning against the adoption of extremes, whether uber positive or negative, when discussing ways in which technology may or may not be a useful tool for enhancing democracy.378

239.We were warned about the dangers of using technology badly. MySociety cautioned that in order for engagement to be effective, there should be a closed feedback loop, otherwise the experience “can be likened to shouting into a great void: it may be cathartic, but it is unlikely to achieve anything.”379 In its 2017 Digital Democracy report, NESTA warned against digital engagement for its own sake, explaining that it is important to demonstrate to citizens how their contributions have been considered and to offer tangible outcomes.380 Dr Rebecca Rumbul, Head of Research at MySociety, told us that while people were willing to engage once, there was a danger that if that interaction were negative, it would turn people off from engaging with democracy.381 Tim Hughes from Involve reinforced this view, stating, “Our mantra has always been that bad engagement is worse than no engagement at all.”382

240.The scale and reach benefits of technology were highlighted by Peter Baeck, Co-Head of the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design at NESTA.383 Indeed, technology is often cited as a cheaper way of reaching people at scale in a timely manner. However, Dr Rebecca Rumbul warned against seeing technology as a way of doing deliberative activity “on the cheap” and suggested that using digital tools was not just a solution to a budgeting issue. She stated that: “an awful lot of the time, doing digital democracy seems like a really lazy way of trying to solve a very institutional problem with the education levels of general society in terms of how Parliament and Government work.” She continued:

“Working for a digital organisation, I find myself saying, more often than not, ‘No, don’t do that digitally’ because I want to see only really good-quality digital components being used. A lot of the time, these kinds of digital activities are used as an excuse to do it on the cheap. Doing it digitally is not just a solution to a budgeting issue. If it is not high quality on a digital level, it is not going to be high-quality engagement for anyone .”384

241.Using technology to cut costs is tempting where resources are scarce, as they may often be across all levels of government (but particularly at local level). However, we advise that any use of technology to enhance democratic participation must be thought through rigorously, be appropriate, and not simply a cost-reducing exercise. Such uses should be purpose-led, not technology-led. We have seen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a raft of new digital possibilities emerge as options for communication. It is important to consider and embrace the new possibilities this crisis has facilitated for digital technologies, but equally vital to consider whether technology is always the best solution and recognise that it is one among a number of tools in our hands.

242.Technology can play an important role in engaging people with democratic processes. Parliament and government, at all levels, should not seek to use technology simply to reduce costs, and must ensure that appropriate technology is used to enhance and enrich democratic engagement.

243.There is a risk that policymakers may become overzealous towards technology’s ability to transform democracy. It is reductive, and at worst plain lazy, to regard the use of technology as the only tool for engagement. We do not believe that technology can replace entirely face-to-face engagement, both between representatives and the public, and amongst policymakers. We have seen this in attempts to conduct an entirely virtual Parliament which, although facilitating some processes, has resulted in less in-depth scrutiny of Government.

244.Peter Baeck and Dr Rebecca Rumbul both warned against a mentality of digital exceptionalism. Mr Baeck stated that technology fails when people apply it without thinking about the parallel offline engagement that needs to happen. He gave the examples of positive work undertaken in Paris, Madrid and Taiwan that combined online with offline engagement. 385

245.Professor Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and the University of Westminster, told us that designing public engagement should be problem-led rather than technology-led. He cautioned against digital solutionism, stating, “The number of people who come to me each year with the app that is going to solve everything is frightening”, and suggested that what policymakers are likely to find is that a blended approach is required.386

246.We note that the COVID-19 pandemic throws these comments into a different light and has made engaging digitally just about the only way to engage, however Professor Smith’s argument that designing public engagement should led by the problem and not technology stands. We must learn lessons in engagement from the pandemic, but these should not be simply that technology should replace in-person engagement.

247.A positive, UK-based example of engagement blending digital and face-to-face participation are the various citizens’ assemblies that have taken place in recent years. The Government’s Innovation in Democracy programme was a one-year programme that aimed to trial models of deliberative democracy and involve citizens in local decision-making. Three citizens assemblies were set up at borough council-level to tackle issues such as regenerating the town centre, reducing congestion and improving public transport. Tim Hughes of Involve, who helped to run the assemblies, told us that the programme’s use of digital allowed residents and other stakeholders to feed into a more traditional offline citizens’ assembly process.387 Professor Graham Smith explained that digital citizens’ assembly participants had to be much more focused than their offline equivalents as people would not stay in front of a screen for five days.388 Dr Rebecca Rumbul from MySociety told us that it was possible to build appropriate platforms for engagement on specific issues, but that this required considerable thought and planning.389 There was unanimous agreement that citizens’ assemblies and similar deliberative initiatives required a face-to-face element, but that these experiments with participatory democracy should be actively encouraged.

248.A notable development in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was that the Climate Assembly UK moved online at the end of March 2020. Climate Assembly UK is the first UK-wide citizens’ assembly on climate change. It was commissioned by six House of Commons committees to look at how the UK should meet its target of net-zero emissions. This was the first UK citizens’ assembly to take place entirely online. At the end of the process, when assembly members had experienced the assembly in person and online, 51 per cent of respondents said that a mixture of in-person and online was ideal for a citizens’ assembly; 46 per cent said that entirely in-person was ideal and only three per cent said that entirely online was preferred.390

249.The opportunities for scale and reach that digital provides should be harnessed to enable a greater number of citizens to engage with democratic processes but must not be used as an excuse to abandon non-digital engagement. When asked what his one recommendation would be to Government, Professor Graham Smith chose to recommend a programme to look at blending face to face and digital engagement which focused on solving problems rather than using tools for their own sake.391

250.Technology is a tool to aid, rather than replace, democratic decision making. Technological democratic engagement may be appropriate for some forms of engagement, but not for others, and it is often most effective when it is combined with offline engagement. Online and offline engagement are not mutually exclusive.

251.It is imperative that voters have access to unbiased and trusted sources of information. Dr Alan Renwick told us about his findings on the different types of information that it is important for voters to have access to in order to participate fully in democracy. Dr Renwick found that high-quality information has multiple features, but there are four primary characteristics: accuracy; relevance; accessibility and balance.392 Voters need to be able to trust the information that they are searching for, something which is more difficult to achieve when information arises from multiple sources.

252.Peter Baeck from NESTA called for more research in this area and suggested that there was a need for a national evidence centre that captures knowledge on what works in this sphere, in order to better understand how technology affects different kinds of conversations.393 This could be used to advise local government regarding the sort of tools they could be using and what the evidence base is for different types of intervention. Mr Baeck also cautioned that attempts to promote democratic engagement can fail when they are aligned with a political agenda, rather than simply part of a public service reform agenda. Such efforts needed to be institutionalised, rather than made into a political project for a particular party.

253.Joe Mitchell further suggested that there was a gap in democratic digital services that cannot be filled by an existing institution. He pointed out that democracy goes beyond merely what happens in Parliament and is therefore not just the responsibility of the Parliamentary Digital Service and the parliamentary authorities. Moreover, local authorities may not have the resources to design democratic digital services. Rachel Coldicutt, then from Doteveryone, told us that the BBC was underused and underpowered and might have a role to play.394 However, in further evidence submitted to us, Joe Mitchell, Dr Alan Renwick and Michela Palese suggested that the BBC may not be suitable because the content needed is not ‘journalistic’. They also pointed out that the Electoral Commission would not be suitable because it is primarily a regulatory body not designed to take on a large, innovative role in information provision; the Electoral Commission has also repeatedly stated its opposition to an expanded remit in this area.395 We leave open the question of who should fill the gap in democratic digital services, but note than the value of public service broadcasters to inform has been shown through their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A democratic information hub

254.To tackle this deficiency, Dr Alan Renwick, Joe Mitchell and Michela Palese recommended the establishment of a ‘democratic information hub’. The hub would establish a coordinated brand that voters could trust, with ready pathways to different forms of information so that they can easily find what they need. The hub’s work would be overseen by a board of directors and a representative panel of citizens. It would be publicly funded and, the authors suggest, cost-neutral, as it could divert funding from the delivery of polling station addresses. The authors made the point that public funding to support information is widespread in other democracies, including Ireland, Germany and Canada.396 The hub would coordinate the aggregation and creation of information content that voters require. This could include making information produced by others more accessible, with information published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Office for Budget Responsibility cited as examples.

255.The Cairncross Review of the future of journalism proposed establishing an Institute for Public Interest News to coordinate efforts between publishers, broadcasters and online platforms to ensure a future for quality reporting. While this proposal was meant to amplify efforts to ensure the future sustainability of public-interest news, the set up would not be too dissimilar to the proposed democratic information hub. The Review proposed that this Institute would become a centre of excellence and good practice, carrying out or commissioning research, building partnerships with universities and developing the intellectual basis for measures to improve the accessibility and readership of quality news online.397 The Government rejected this proposal on the grounds that it was not its place to lead on this issue, or decide what qualifies as ‘public interest’ news and that “even an arm’s length relationship risks perceptions of inappropriate government interference with the press.”398 We acknowledge the difficulties any Government faces in deciding what qualifies as public interest news. However, we hope that the Government recognises that there is a need to inform the public better about the core aspects of UK democracy and that investing in democracy is essential to its wellbeing.

256.We consider the proposal for a democratic information hub to be thoroughly sensible and believe that a new source is required to centralise and make information about democracy available to voters. This source must be independent and politically neutral.

257.The hub would have two purposes: the first and most important would be to inform the public. The hub could provide ‘basic’ information about democracy, including how to vote, where to vote and who the local candidates are for all levels of elections. It could then build its services up gradually once it had gained some brand recognition and achieved a trusted status. The second purpose would be to bring together and inform policymakers, government of all levels and civil society organisations. For this audience, the hub would act as a centre for innovation, research and promotion for what works in digital engagement. The hub could connect policymakers to access and better understand the successful digital innovations taking place in civil society.

258.The Government should establish an independent democratic information hub. This would be both a public-facing hub that provides information about democracy, starting with basic information about democratic procedures, and a means of sharing best practice in digital democracy between policymakers and civil society organisations.

How Government and Parliament could better use digital tools

259.To a large extent, Government, and especially Parliament, use analogue systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused both to innovate at great speed. Parliament’s proceedings usually rely on Members being physically present in debates and passing through division lobbies in person. The COVID-19 pandemic and attempts at a ‘virtual parliament’ have revealed areas where greater use of digital technologies could enhance and improve parliamentary work.

260.Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira from the University of Leeds told us that there was not a systematic, integrated approach to the use of technology by Parliament.399 Professor Leston-Bandeira and Joe Mitchell both raised the issue that public representatives in institutions such as Parliament should be thinking about how technology can help them to listen better to the public.400 Peter Baeck told us that it was important for technological expertise to be embedded into existing institutions as another tool to enable them to do their job well.401

261.We were told that how Parliament communicates and the ways in which it presents information could also be improved. Dr Rebecca Rumbul argued that much of what MySociety does on the TheyWorkForYou website should be done by Parliament itself.402

262.Parliament and Government have in the past been perceived as slow-moving when it comes to adopting digital. We heard from Professor Leston-Bandeira that public institutions are not as developed in the use of digital as the private sector and that there was a need for these institutions to bring in more skills to make improvements in this area. This problem could perhaps be explained by issues in resourcing. Tony Close, then from Ofcom; albeit a regulator, not a governmental body, told us that while they struggle to compete with the private sector because they could not attract people with generous salary packages, they could attract people whose values align with Ofcom’s.403

263.There has been some innovation undertaken by the devolved institutions and a greater willingness to adopt digital practices. Professor Leston-Bandeira told us that the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments have many good examples of how to use technology for engagement purposes. We are also aware that some local authorities have experimented with tools such as participatory budgeting. However, we do believe that more could be done, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, which showed that business could be conducted virtually for many public bodies.

264.This is not to say that Parliament or Government could fulfil the functions performed by actors operating in the civic technology space. Firstly, Parliament, like all large and historic institutions, is inherently bureaucratic and change is cumbersome. For example, Professor Graham Smith argued that MySociety is a nimbler organisation and that Parliament and local authorities can be a dead hand on creativity and innovation.404 Many of the civic tech organisations are staffed by small numbers of highly-skilled volunteers; the start-up nature of these organisations is perhaps precisely what allows them to build projects so quickly in response to perceived need.

265.Professor Smith suggested that there should be a mix, with institutions acting for themselves as well as paying for services from others who are in a better position to innovate. We concur. It is necessary for Parliament and Government both to show that they are adapting to the digital world, and to support organisations that can do this better, faster and in a more sophisticated manner. These civic technology organisations do need financial help, which could be provided by Government. Such partnerships would be mutually beneficial to both the institutions and civic technology organisations. A proposed source of funding could be the money raised by the incoming Digital Services Tax, which will be levied on a group’s businesses that provide a social media, search engine or online marketplace to UK users. Those businesses will be liable to the tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from those digital activities are more than £500 million and more than £25 million of these revenues are derived from UK users. This should not be confused with the traditional form of outsourcing.

266.The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a rapid response from parliaments across the world, including those in the UK. We argue for a sensible optimisation of the use of digital technologies based on the lessons learned during the pandemic.

267.Parliament, and national, devolved and local government must acquire and develop greater digital capacity and skills to facilitate digital democratic engagement. This should be a mix of inhouse development and the funding of specialist external organisations as appropriate.

357 Hans Kundnani, The Future of Democracy in Europe: Technology and the Evolution of Representation (March 2020) p 11: [accessed 18 April 2020]

358 Q 46 (Professor Helen Margetts)

359 Q 46 (Dr Martin Moore)

360 Q 46 (Professor Cristian Vaccari)

361 Written evidence from Democracy Club (DAD0045)

362 Q 259 (Joe Mitchell)

363 Dr Alan Renwick and Michela Palese, ‘Doing Democracy Better: How can information and discourse in election and referendum campaigns in the UK be improved?’, March 2019: [accessed 18 April 2020]

364 ‘Tactical voting website criticised for ‘bogus’ advice’ The Guardian (30 October 2019) [accessed 24 April 2020]

365 268 (Tim Hughes)

366 Newspeak House, ‘GE2019 Election Tech Handbook’: [accessed 13 May 2020]

367 Housing, Communities and Local Government, Response to the Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, Cm 9629, June 2018, p 24:–001_Government%20Response%20to%20House%20of%20Lords%20Select%20Committee%20on%20Citizenship_Text_PRINT.pdf

368 Cabinet Office, The Atlas of Democratic Variation (January 2019): [accessed 5 June 2020]

369 Q 181 (Siim Kumpas)

370 FiveThirtyEight, ‘What Went Down in the Wisconsin Primary’ (13 April 2020): [accessed 26 May 2020]

371 Written evidence from Scytl Secure Electronic Voting (DAD0030) and Sparkster Labs Ltd (DAD0064)

372 Q 113 (Elisabeth Braw)

373 Q 115 (Ben Scott)

374 Q 262 (Joe Mitchell)

375 Written evidence from MySociety (DAD0051)

376 Written evidence from Privacy International (DAD0041)

377 Written evidence from Open Rights Group (DAD0079)

378 Q 46 (Dr Martin Moore)

379 Written evidence from MySociety (DAD0051)

380 NESTA, Digital Democracy: The tools transforming political engagement (February 2017): [accessed 18 April 2020]

381 Q 275 (Dr Rebecca Rumbul)

382 Q 275 (Tim Hughes)

383 Q 259 (Peter Baeck)

384 Q 269 (Dr Rebecca Rumbul)

385 Q 259 (Peter Baeck)

386 Q 269 (Professor Graham Smith)

387 Q 271 (Tim Hughes)

388 Q 272 (Professor Graham Smith)

389 Q 273 (Dr Rebecca Rumbul)

390 Involve Blog, ‘Online or offline? A view from assembly members’ (20 May 2020): [accessed 26 May 2020]

391 Q 279 (Professor Graham Smith)

392 Q 260 (Dr Alan Renwick) and Dr Alan Renwick and Michela Palese, Doing Democracy Better: How can information and discourse in election and referendum campaigns in the UK be improved?, (March 2019): [accessed 18 April 2020]

393 Q 262 (Peter Baeck)

394 Q 41 (Rachel Coldicutt)

395 Written evidence from Dr Alan Renwick, Joe Mitchell and Michaela Palese (DAD0099)

396 Written evidence from Dr Alan Renwick, Joe Mitchell and Michela Palese (DAD0099)

397 The Cairncross Review, A Sustainable Future for Journalism (February 2019) p 11: [accessed 9 April 2020]

398 DCMS, Government response to the Cairncross Review: a sustainable future for journalism (January 2020): [accessed 13 May 2020]

399 Q 259 (Professor Cristina Leston Bandeira)

400 Q 259 (Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Joe Mitchell)

401 Q 266 (Peter Baeck)

402 Q 277 (Dr Rebecca Rumbul)

403 Q 282 (Tony Close)

404 Q 277 (Professor Graham Smith)

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