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Al Jazeera | Hacking Madrid
Rebel Geeks: seven part series
Director: Ana De Sousa
Producer: Anson Hartford, Hugh Hartford
September 2016

With services like email and social media, Amazon and Apple Pay, health, diet and even sleep-tracking, technology is pushing ever deeper into our lives. 

But should we just accept the new gadgets and services on offer, or is there a hidden cost to pay? 

This seven-part series profiles the Rebel Geeks challenging power structures and offering a different vision of our technological future.


Can a technological revolution overcome Spain's deeply entrenched political elite?


Pablo Soto, former software developer, activist and recently elected councilor for Participation and Transparency in Madrid's radical new administration, is trying to build the technology for a direct democracy, allowing citizens to propose and elect their own laws.


Together with colleague and fellow democracy activist Miguel Arana, Soto is working on a website that will allow the people of Spain's capital city to suggest, select and vote on new policies directly.


Decide Madrid enables citizens to express their views on whatever issues they feel the government should be addressing and to make new policy proposals. If any idea gets enough public support, through registered by votes on the website, the government will hold a referendum for the whole of the city to decide.


While the website seems the perfect response to calls for more democracy in Spain, it is not without its detractors. Opposition parties are trying to scare people off the idea by warning them of the dangers of empowering technology to dictate government policy.


The developers also have to convince a sceptical older segment of the population who don't trust or understand the technology. Are the people of Madrid ready for people power? And can its creators get enough participation to keep the project alive - and protect it from political opposition and media oblivion?

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We didn't come here to play the game of the parties - we came here to play the game of the people.

Pablo Soto
Councillor for Ahora Madrid
Credit List
Ana De Sousa
Hugh Hartford
Anson Hartford
Series Producer
Dan Davies