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World Forum for Democracy: Pasquier, “vital link between citizenship and freedom of expression”. 1,000 participants from 100 countries

(from our correspondent in Strasbourg) “There is a vital link between democracy, citizenship and freedom of expression. Without it, “citizens are actually excluded from the political processes and cannot assert their rights”: this is, in brief, the point made by Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in her opening remarks at the World Forum for Democracy that is taking place over three days in Strasbourg. The main title of the event, “Is democracy in danger in the information age?”, points to the rapid changes in communication and information technology brought about by the rise of the Internet. Until recently, the news was “transmitted” in printed newspapers, via television or radio; “today it is the websites, blogs and social media that have become more popular”, with hundreds of millions of users who are, at the same time, users and protagonists of communication. “But who controls information sources? What languages are used? How much disinformation, deliberate or not, travels across the Internet? Who owns and uses the personal data of Internet users?” – these are all questions that industry experts, politicians and journalists are trying to answer. A thousand participants have come to the Council of Europe to attend the Forum, most of whom – the majority – are young people. Another 3,000 are following the live stream of the event from the five continents. A hundred countries, especially in Europe, Africa and Asia, are represented at the Palais de l’Europe. Accredited journalists are about a hundred.

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