Web Democracy through mySociety

To convince you of the power of Web Democracy here’s what I have been able to do in the last three hours. I lamented the state pf UK politics and that I was unable to get a reply from my MEP on Net Neutrality. I wrote to the BBC and got a reply:

Thank you for sending your email to the Broadcasting House programme on BBC Radio Four. This is an automated reply to confirm that your message has reached us and will be drawn to the attention of the programme’s presenter and producers.

If you are asking for specific information, we’ll do our best to supply it. Please bear with us, because we receive a great many emails and our priority must be to maintain our on-air service. We may not be able to meet complicated requests.

If you are making a complaint or comment which requires a personal response, please forward your email to bhfeedback@bbc.co.uk

This is exactly what I needed clear and courteous. Now if I had got that from my MEP I would have been happy. As I was, however, I got a reply from a mySociety volunteer (anonymised as Anon)

Thanks for the nice feedback for the site [mySociety].

Neither MPs nor MEPs are covered by the Freedom of Information Act,
and are under no obligation to reply to any letters from their
constituents either, although most do.

For more information on what you can do if you haven’t received a
reply please see:

You can also write to your MEP via this site.

Again, exactly what I had hoped for. In retrospect I should have poked around the mySociety site and found it for myself. But this is Web Democracy where everyone contributes and Anon has done exactly that.

WriteToThem does exactly what it says on the tin. Let’s take you through it (I’m posting this with screenshots as I can now do this in ICE!).


graphics2So I now get a list of my MEPs.

I hadn’t thought of writing to all of them. I’ll do that.

Read this before writing your message

Please be polite, concise and to the point; if you abuse your MEPs you devalue the service for all users.

Use your own words (new window); we block copy and pasted identical messages.

Its a waste of time (new window) writing to MEPs other than your own; your message will be ignored.

MEPs can help you on proposed European directives (laws), and questions on the European Parliament, Commission, or Union. However, once passed, EU laws become the responsibility of the UK to implement, so you may wish to go back and contact your MP about them in that case. Similarly if your letter is about a local or national issue, please go back and contact a regional or national representative, as your MEP will be unable to help you in that case.

Note that MEPs cannot help raise an issue with the European Court of Human Rights. The Convention is incorporated into UK law, so any challenge must start in the UK legal system.

Exactly what I want. Now for the list of MEPs


This is presented very clearly. So I’ll write

I’m writing on the issue of Net Neutrality on Europe which I consider to be a fundamental democratic right and also a likely competitive advantage in wealth generation. This is particularly important for the Cambridge area with a large number of knowledge economy companies which, if we are to achieve the vision of the Lisbon protocol, will be essential.

I wrote to Andrew Duff before the vote on Net Neutrality earlier this month but received no reply. I would like the following:

  • An acknowledgement of this mail, even if automatic. There is nothing more destructive of the democratic process than the impression that one’ elected representatives do not care

  • A summary of the current position on Net Neutrality in Europe after the vote. My colleagues tell me that freedom has not been assured and that big business can still expect to control access to the Net.

Peter Murray-Rust

For the record my previous letter is on my blog at http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=1742 (Dear MEP, Please save Our Internet);

I fill in my name and address and submit the letter. WTT asks me to wait while they process my letter…

and I get:

All done Well send your message now

If, for some reason, we couldnt send your message to your representative, we will email you to tell you. Otherwise, you can sit back and relax your message is on its way.

Get email from your MP in the future

and have a chance to discuss what they say in a public forum

Your email:

Great. Now let’s see whether I get any reply.

And many thanks to mySociety. It’s changing our democratic process by the day. Look at it, and see if there are services you can responsibly use.

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2 Responses to Web Democracy through mySociety

  1. Mat Todd says:

    Wonderful site, isn’t it? Also recently found http://www.fixmystreet.com/. (Would have been useful when I used to dodge pot holes on my bike in Cambridge) I just marvel at the transparency, and democritising power. Wish we had these in Australia.

  2. Pingback: Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics, Cambridge - Net Neutrality: can you help me and my MP? « petermr’s blog

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