Volunteers-led regulatory reform in Taiwan
Ask not why nobody is doing it. You are the nobody.
This quote talks about the motto of g0v: be nobody. As the largest civic tech community in Taiwan, g0v holds hackathons every other month, attracting hundreds of participants to work on civic ideas. It brings together developers, designers, activists, journalists, and civil servants. One of the calls to action that emerged was to “fork the government”, which means to improve government service by helping make it better, for the service providers to merge it back when ready.
In 2014, riding on the era of self-media, the Sunflower movement took place. Students in Taiwan couldn’t bare the MP’s unwillingness to deliberate about a service trade deal with the Beijing Office, so they occupied the parliament for 22 days and conducted a real deliberation inside. The process was live-streamed with the help of the g0v community so that it would be reported as how it was, as in non-violent and peaceful.
This led to the launch of vTaiwan.
After Sunflower movement, the minister of cyberspace in Taiwan participated in one of the g0v hackathons. She proposed to create a platform that engages the entire society in rational discussion. Civic participants in the hackathon took the challenge and built the first version of vTaiwan within two weeks.
vTaiwan started by using hackfoldr, an open-source webpages gathering tool, to organize multiple to-be-reformed regulations for open discussion and progress tracking.
Soon after, a process evolved. It contains four clear stages: proposal stage, opinion stage, reflection stage, and legislation stage.
Proposal stage: any digital related social issue that earns commitment from both vTaiwan volunteers and public sector can enter the process.
Opinion stage: vTaiwan volunteers facilitate and collect online and offline opinions from stakeholders and the society.
Reflection stage: key stakeholder will be invited to face-to-face live-streamed deliberation to draw up specific recommendations.
Legislation stage: draft bills will be send to the parliament to agree or disagree.
vTaiwan is a decentralized community driven by volunteers. The volunteers host weekly open-to-everyone meet-ups and guide people through each deliberation stage using various open-source tools. Those meet-ups are the space and time where most facilitation work, data retrieval, information organization, and open discussion take place.
“In a radical approach to transparency, the entire consultation is continuously summarised, transcribed and published in an open, structured and searchable format.”– Written by Nesta in Six pioneers in Digital Democracy
For more extensive case studies around regulating Uber, visit Pol.is in Taiwan by Colin Megill, Uber responds to vTaiwan’s coherent blended volition by Audrey Tang and How Taiwan solves the Uber problem by Richard D. Bartlett
As an experiment that prototypes an open consultation process that brings together government ministries, elected representatives, scholars, experts, business leaders, civil society organizations, and citizens, vTaiwan is keen to engage more in the discussion. To get involved, visit join.g0v.tw and find channel #vtaiwan