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Privilege and social media

Question of privilege regarding use of social media to report on Parliamentary proceedings

The Privileges Committee met on 28 May 2014 to consider how to proceed with its examination of the new question of privilege that stands referred to it.

The committee has been asked to examine the House’s rules in light of new technology. We have established the following terms of reference to guide our inquiry:

1. Should any restrictions, or guidelines, apply to members’ use of hand-held electronic devices in the Chamber and committees, including accessing social media to comment on the proceedings?

2. Do the Parliament’s procedures and rules need modernising to reflect the opportunities and challenges provided by social media, including where the House and committees use social media to disseminate information and facilitate public participation?

3. Are the current rules, that a. reflections on members (including the Speaker or other presiding officers) could amount to a contempt; or b. accusations against the Speaker that reflect on him or her in that capacity could amount to a contempt appropriate? If so, should these rules still apply to reflections or accusations made outside the House or on social media?


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