"THE TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION FOR THE LIBERAL REVOLUTION" by Marco Cappato


The Congress of the Transnational Radical Party

Considering that:
- the technological revolution, especially in the field of digital technologies, does not in itself form a guarantee that the instruments of freedom and of democracy will be strengthened, but does provide instruments that can be used both to increase the capacity for oppression and control of citizens and to restore powers taken from them arbitrarily and rights recognised only on paper;
- the digital revolution, in fact, multiplies the individual's possibilities of communication and interaction in exponential fashion, making possible the relaunch of the liberal democratic myth - that of the individual at the centre of the "res publica", with the institutions and the powers organised at his service - as opposed to the planned, bureaucratised and corporatist organisation of political, economic and social life;

Believes that the TRP should include among its priorities the need to persuade politicians and the institutions, at all levels, of the urgent need to create the legislative and infrastructural conditions to strengthen and expand - through new technologies and the primary commodity of information - the individual rights and liberties, at the same time eliminating practices and risks of repressive, statist and violent uses;
In particular, identifies the following fronts for initiative:
- anti-technocratic and anti-prohibitionist front: against the use of technology by the State to censor, to control citizens unlawfully, or to violate their fundamental liberties in any other way;
- e-democracy front: technology used to restore power and information to citizens, facilitating the exercise of civil and political rights;
- cyber-nonviolence front: technology used for political initiatives, including nonviolent opposition to violence or to the abuse of power;
- "conversion of military expenditure" front: technology for the conversion of military expenditure and facilities into civil expenditure and facilities;


The "anti-technocratic and anti-prohibitionist" front

The Congress of the TRP:

Considering that:

- the freedom of expression, the right to secrecy of correspondence and the right to the protection of one's personal data are fundamental rights of the person;
- systematic censorship and widespread surveillance of Internet users is practised in dictatorial regimes, also through the physical persecution of Net surfers and on-line activists, and the forced closure of cyber-cafés, websites and search engines;
- even in countries considered to be democratic, e-communication is subject to systematic censorship, surveillance and repression, often carried out indirectly through bureaucratic and fiscal restrictions;
- after September 11, the role of control by public authorities, especially control over electronic communication, has been widened, despite the fact that analysts and experts in the sector sustain almost unanimously that the inability to prevent terrorist attacks was not due to a lack of information, but to a failure to analyse the information gathered;
- the widespread interception, collection and analysis of personal data across the population therefore threatens to make the fight against crime less effective, as well as to increase the risk of the abuse of data;
- the systems of mass control over e-communication not only constitute a danger for the individual liberties, but also violate the principles of free-market economic competition through widespread activities of industrial espionage, using national security and the fight against crime as a cover, as the case of the surveillance system known as "Echelon" has shown;

The Congress of the TRP

- Believes that the closure of websites and the surveillance and persecution of surfers and on-line activists on the part of a State constitute a serious violation of the fundamental liberties and rights, and as such oblige the international community to take immediate measures (such as the implementation of the mechanisms of interpellation, denunciation and suspension of the State concerned when such action is provided for in international treaties and conventions);
- Believes that access by the State to the personal data of citizens must only take place with the consent of the citizens themselves, apart from exceptions that are strictly necessary, limited in time, proportionate in a democratic society, and established by laws that have been voted democratically and made known to the general public; such exceptions cannot imply widespread access to personal data, but must be realised through procedures authorised case by case by the judicial authorities;


"E-democracy" front

Considering that:

- democracy is genuinely such when the citizen has at his disposal instruments of knowledge, communication and choice;
- the technological revolution makes available instruments of communication, access and interaction, also for individual use, at limited cost; and that the same technology allows the storage of an almost unlimited amount of audio-visual and textual information and the possibility to access such information directly and in real time or to recover it later from any part of the territory;
- the application of digital technologies to the democratic process can promote participation and the exercise of the political and civil rights of citizens;
- even in countries in which the laws require the publicity of parliamentary proceedings and of the sessions and acts of state organs and public bodies, such publicity is in reality non-existent or entrusted prevalently to the mediation, and too often the distortion, of the mass media;
- the right of participation in the political sphere is hindered by complicated procedures and by anachronistic bureaucratic restrictions, which increase the costs for both citizens and public administrations;
- there is a need to simplify voting methods and make them easy for the electors to understand, and to reduce the possibility of error and invalidation:

The Congress of the TRP requires the executive organs of the party to propose that:
- the right of every citizen to have access at any time via the Internet to the various public events of the life of the institutions and to the meetings of the elective and jurisdictional organs, as well as to obtain copies via the Internet of any public document of the Public Administration, should be recognised by law, or promoted according to respective competences; information must be presented not only in graphic form but also in textual form, to allow it to be used by persons with impaired senses; it should be possible to access all information also through open documented standards that everyone has the right to implement, standards whose use is not restricted by parents or otherwise.
- it should be possible to exercise civil and political rights on-line, in full respect of the requirements of security and of the protection of privacy, in particular of the secrecy of the vote; the suitability for the requirements of secrecy and security of all the programmes used must be certifiable and verifiable also through public access to the codes of the programmes themselves;

The Congress supports:
- the bills presented by Radicali italiani on on-line institutions and on e-voting;
- the proposal for the constitution of an e-parliament ("e-parliament" initiative), launched at international level by a group of figures from the spheres of politics, academia and associations with the aim of facilitating interaction between parliamentarians all over the world;
- the draft resolution on e-democracy and European e-citizenship presented on the initiative of the TRP by 62 MEPS, which:
1. states that European citizenship should imply "the right of on-line access" to all documents and public meetings;
2. calls for the Treaties to be amended in order that:
- all the public meetings of the institutions of the European Union and their organs be broadcast live and stored on-line;
- every citizen can fully enjoy his rights of European citizenship on-line (with regard, for example, to the election of the European Parliament, complaints to the European Ombudsman and to the Court of Justice, petitions to the EP), in accordance with the systems of identification laid down by the legislation of the Community;
3. calls on the institutions of the EU and on the Member States to promote e-voting, and in particular a project for voting in "controlled e-voting stations" for the European elections of 2004.
The Congress charges the executive organs to promote these political objectives and to determine the corresponding objectives regarding the conversion of public budgets.


III nonviolence front

Considering that:

- it is a political priority of the TRP to promote and invent a nonviolent use of the new technologies to realise new on-line forms of demonstration and civil disobedience against unjust laws, thus reinforcing the forms of the Radical "satyagraha" and making concrete and effective alternatives to violence available to individuals, movements and peoples;
- legislations at all levels tend to follow technological progress by producing increasingly specific, detailed and diversified laws - comprehensible only to narrow circles of experts - often reflecting corporative interests and a prohibitionist approach - and continually surpassed by new developments;
- it is necessary to ensure that international laws and conventions do not alter the fundamental principles of justice and do not penalise individual behaviours only due to the use of new technologies; this legislative approach would also allow a clear distinction between forms of on-line political demonstration, civil disobedience, and demonstrative actions on one hand, and violent actions causing harm to property, and also to people, on the other;
- there are countless examples of on-line nonviolence; in particular it is worth recalling the systems used to elude censorship in dictatorial regimes and to ensure the confidentiality of information.
- it is worth recalling in particular the concept of Electronic Civil Disobedience coined by the Critical Art Ensemble, the reflection and instruments (especially against censorship and filters on the Internet) made available by innumerable organisations and sites (Thehacktivist.com, for example), as well as Stefan Wray's guidelines for digital demonstrations:
* transparency
* linking virtual and street actions
* non-violence
* open source code
* simple tools
and those of Maximilian Dornseif to slow down a server through a demonstration:
* avoid hurting others
* keep bandwidth consumption low
* don't hurt other users of a virtual server
* show obvious modification of server behaviour
* try to maintain a linear relation between participants and effect
* be accountable

The Congress of the TRP:

commits the TRP:
- in favour of legislations based on the classical liberal model, defining only a few rules that should be easily comprehensible for all citizens and as neutral as possible with respect to the technologies involved;
- against specific, detailed legislations that aim continually to define and restrain technological progress;
- against indiscriminate demonising of non-violent behaviours involving information systems;
- commits the executive organs to promote, support and use new non-violent technologies against censorship and all forms of prohibitionism, both on-line and off-line;


IV "Conversion of military expenditure and facilities" front

Considering that:

- although the use of force can be legitimate and necessary to stop violence, the recourse to weapons that lead to destruction and death ultimately also damages those who use them, because even counter-violence that is successful proves in the long term to be a demonstration and a justification of the existence of "good violence" and "bad violence";
- the construction of non-violent weapons that are able as effectively or more effectively to halt those who use violence (and those who become their accomplices in the pacifist equidistance between victims of aggression and aggressors) would make interventions "armed" in this way in the defence of peace, democracy and freedom even more effective and lasting;
- it is necessary to mobilise resources to build democracy and legality in places where they do not exist, to organise full-fledged non-violent counter-information "attacks" in support of dissidents, oppressed peoples, and freedom fighters, both on-line and off-line.
- the need to spread knowledge and information among peoples oppressed by dictatorial regimes currently absorbs only a tiny fraction of the military and diplomatic and foreign policy spending of the democratic States;
- a general rethink of military strategies and the relative investments is in progress all over the world, and in particular in the United States of America;
- most of the current military facilities and expenditure are not adequate precisely with respect to the mission to promote democracy and the Rule of Law around the world, and are increasingly less adequate in guaranteeing security for the citizens of the democratic countries;
- the United States - although it has the most firmly established and articulate system of broadcasts for the promotion and co-ordination of flows of information that reach all parts of the world, especially places where the political and social situation makes the survival and development of free and independent (or at least not hostile) information more difficult - reaches 100 million people a week, with a total expenditure in the year 2000 of 241 million dollars (compared to the total 2001 budget of the US Department of Defence of around 379 billion dollars); for 2003 around 500 million dollars have been earmarked for this purpose;

The Congress of the TRP:
- commits the executive organs to set up a campaign for the conversion by the democratic countries of military expenditure and facilities into civil expenditure and facilities, identifying as soon as possible medium-term objectives and the relevant time-frame,
- also commits the executive organs to identify the highest number of national parliaments where proposals for an immediate conversion of military expenditure could be put forward, by resorting to the wealth of already existing studies and projects that have been shelved as a result of militaristic choices dictated by the pressure of the military industry.
- civil expenditure and facilities must:
* be managed only under strict parliamentary control;
* centre on the weapon of information, the construction of a full-fledged "global media belt" of the new "Radio London" stations that will bring knowledge to oppressed peoples, through information based as far as possible on full, unedited documentation and models of interactive communication.