Protesting Parliament Bills in Iceland is Easy

Protesting Parliament Bills in Iceland is Easy

‘Öryggisventill’ is the Icelandic word for a safety valve. You might think that a safety valve in Iceland has something to do with tourists trying to pronounce “Eyjafjallajökull” or geothermal steam. In this case it is related to the second of those two options. With this safety valve the voters will be able “to let off a bit of steam” and also let their politicians know about it.

‘Öryggisventill’ is an open source software tool created by the Icelandic Pirate Party. It provides a simple and secure way for citizens to register their disapproval (or approval) of any bill and motion in the Parliament during the current parliamentary term. Both the population and the politicians will be provided with instant feedback for any controversial action or policy.

Similar attempts have been made in the past by others (e.g. petition software). The difference with ‘Öryggisventill’ is that it guarantees the digital signatures of people commenting on bills through the nation-wide Icekey (Íslykill). The Icekey is an identity verification system provided by the Icelandic government. Having signatures verified by the government, as opposed to just asking for postal codes or e-mail addresses, gives serious weight to the input collected by safety valve. If a citizen wants to protest or support a bill or proposal they simply click on the button ‘Protest’ and confirm their registration with their IceKey.

Screenshot of user interface

CC BY-SA PPIS

The project was originally developed by Pirate Party members Tómas Árni Jónasson, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson (member of Parliament), James Robb and with layout assistance from Svafar Helgason. The project is continuosly maintained and developed by Helgi and James. Currently SafetyValve is in test phase until the Althingi (the Icelandic Parliament) returns in the autumn.

Featured image: Strokkur Geyser in SW Iceland CC BY-SA Composite Pirate Times from PPIS and Daniel