The law must be hacked

I recently read a post about using a time honored IT technique for improving a largely flawed system, namely the legal system. Normally geeks like us would not bother with such boring subjects, but since these subjects routinely bother us and with us, it is perhaps time to take a look at it and try to fix what’s broken and buggy.

The solution that has been put forward by the Brooklyn Law school’s incubator and policy clinic (BLIPin their ‘legal hackathon’ is this:

Instead of hacking computer code, attendees — mostly lawyers, law students, coders, and entrepreneurs — used the hacking ethos to devise technologically sophisticated solutions to legal problems. These included attempts to crowdsource mayoral candidacies in New York City and hacking model privacy policies for ISPs.”

Now, that’s something I’d really cheer for! A versioning control system for laws, along with a requirements spec for each law and a wikipedia like system for citizen participation would be a good start.

It has been a while, but now thanks to technology perhaps democracy will be back at work where it has recently failed most miserably. Laws should be made by people not lobbyists.

And technology will help that process along.