Last fall, New Zealand opened up the task of writing a new police act legislation to the public through the use of a Wiki site. The following BBC article describes the process. You can also visit the Wiki site by clicking HERE. The site gives a summary of the results of the process, which is now complete, and encourages future input. This initiative is but one of many that illustrates how the internet is a viable means and a valuable tool for implementing participatory and direct democratic processes worldwide. - Editor
NZ Police Let Public Write Laws
The "wiki" will allow the public to suggest the wording of a new police act, as part of a government review of the current law, written in 1958.
Police say they hope to gain a range of views from the public on the new law before presenting it to parliament.
The wiki, one of the first of its kind in the world, is open to any internet user, police say.
The wiki is the latest round of public consultation in the 18-month review of the 50-year-old law.
Launching a wiki version of a statute is a novel move, but one we hope will yield a range of views from people interested in having a direct say on the shape of a new Policing Act
The officer in charge of the review, Supt Hamish McCardle, described the site as "similar to a whiteboard" and said it was open to anyone who wanted to have their say on the new law.
It even includes a "wiki sandbox" that lets nervous newcomers practise their posting.
"Launching a wiki version of a statute is a novel move, but one we hope will yield a range of views from people interested in having a direct say on the shape of a new Policing Act," Supt McCardle said.
Aaron Smith - from the US-based Pew Internet Project, which studies the evolution of internet uses - told the BBC News website that the wiki was a new frontier in online government.
"You see a lot of government sites worldwide allowing for various feedback mechanisms... but in terms of bringing this to the public in the form of writing laws, that's obviously a different thing entirely and something that we certainly haven't seen yet," Mr Smith said.
He said any possible corrupting of the process should be reduced by the "self-policing" nature of wikis.
"It would certainly be difficult for people to put in bogus information... without people recognising that fact and the community of users correcting that before the finished product is completed," he said.
A "wiki" - from the Hawaiian word for "quick" - is a type of website that can be easily edited by anyone. The most well-known wiki is the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.
Visit the Wiki site: http://wiki.policeact.govt.nz/