Mr Roy Jakes – written evidence (DAD0010)


  1. How has digital technology changed the way that democracy works in the UK and has this been a net positive or negative effect?

The parliamentary website and others have made the work done by parliament and MP’s more transparent. Positive

Surveys and information can be obtained directly from individuals and organisations. Positive

Individuals can directly contact MP’s and government directly.  When used with positive intent this is very positive. However it is constantly misused resulting in a reluctance for individuals to take up the opportunity to serve as representatives or even as civil servants. Somehow the correspondence to/from public servants should be mediated (as per a secretary when it was by letter) and racial or threatening correspondence acted upon.

  1. How have the design of algorithms used by social media platforms shaped democratic debate? To what extent should there be greater accountability for the design of these algorithms?

The ability of media platforms to serve up materials based on on-line activity drives people to the extremes, ie they are delivered material, not always or even usually true, based ob their views only confirms those views, not question them. Liberal thinking, ie the listening to alternative views and not sticking to one viewpoint, is be driven out.    In some ways this is the same as newspapers however with newspapers you know what you are buying, with digital media sources are hidden.

The ability of media platforms to target individuals with advertising based on on-line activity is known. If this technology was invested in to seek out violent, extremist and illegal activities, it would reduce the negative impact of the current digital media. There should be legislation to ensure this.


3. What role should every stage of education play in helping to create a healthy, active, digitally literate democracy?

Online campaigning

  1. Would greater transparency in the online spending and campaigning of political groups improve the electoral process in the UK by ensuring accountability, and if so what should this transparency look like?

As a very minimum the source should be made very clear i.e. as per TV ads during the champagne, ‘this is a message from the xxxx party’.

  1. What effect does online-targeted advertising have on the political process, and what effects could it have in the future? Should there be additional regulation of political advertising?

It is difficult to separate someone’s view from advertising. Again some form of source transparency is required i.e. ‘paid for by….’ or the name of the source plus background for editorial items i.e., written by xxx who is editorial editor for ….’

Privacy and anonymity

  1. To what extent does increasing use of encrypted messaging and private groups present a challenge to the democratic process?

Constantly allows a person to bypass the checks and avoid the law when illegal activity takes place. Again interception and monitoring of encrypted messages should be allowed if illegal activity is understood to be taking place (on similar basis as the ability to search a property.

  1. What are the positive or negative effects of anonymity on online democratic discourse?

The only reason for requiring this is to spot reprisals, and it should be minimised. This is as per the other media not revealing sources. We should work towards transparency to enable understanding of who is taking responsibility for a statement.

Democratic debate

  1. To what extent does social media negatively shape public debate, either through encouraging polarisation or through abuse deterring individuals from engaging in public life?

I believe it plays a massive role in both due to the algorithms used by various platforms to deliver what they think you want to hear, to enable people to contact public servants without any responsibility for their words and anonymously. Both should be mediated and if illegal (threats, racist, etc.) either filtered out by the platform and where appropriate, prosecuted

9  To what extent do you think that there are those who are using social media to attempt to undermine trust in the democratic process and in democratic institutions; and what might be the best ways to combat this and strengthen faith in democracy?

I do believe this is happening as per propaganda in Nazi Germany in the 30’s and indeed throughout history. Can you stop it, with difficulty?  MP’s are playing loose and loose with facts need to be called if trust in democracy is to be fully restored. However attributing items to their source would help.


  1. What might be the best ways of reducing the effects of misinformation on social media platforms?

Source transparent (author, source of data, background of author, paid for by…


11. How could the moderation processes of large technology companies be improved to better tackle abuse and misinformation, as well as helping public debate flourish?

If they can target individuals with specific ad’s, they could spend money building algorithms to moderate abuse, misinformation and illegal activity. They, like newspapers, could/should set up specific mediated forums for discussions of specific topics.

Technology and democratic engagement

  1. How could the Government better support the positive work of civil society organisations using technology to facilitate engagement with democratic processes?

More education in schools, and ensuring officials and public servant visit and talk to kids early in life.

  1. How can elected representatives use technology to engage with the public in local and national decision making? What can Parliament and Government do to better use technology to support democratic engagement and ensure the efficacy of the democratic process?

Produce an app for each and every MP to use ensuring consistency and education for them.

Use technology in parliament to save time, modernise process, give transparency and show that parliament in in the 21’st century.

  1. What positive examples are there of technology being used to enhance democracy?

This use of questionnaires for obtaining public vies. However needs improved follow up.

My MP has web site and tweets etc.  Improves visibility.