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e-Democracy update - 4/10/06 - MySpace's voter registration drive, Coonan cites YouTube, and Bahrain e-voting dropped

04 October, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

MySpace launches voter registration drive in US

Social networking site MySpace.com has launched a voter-registration drive in the US to engage more young people in the political process.

The project is a co-development between MySpace and non-partisan group Declare Yourself.

MySpace is running ads on its pages and providing tools for members to promote their registration on personal profile pages.

MySpace senior vice president for public affairs Jeff Berman says young people in the US are really engaged in what's happening in their community and want to make a difference.

"The key is to make it easy for them to get engaged. By putting these tools on MySpace and putting it in front of their eyes, you make it far more likely they will use them," he says.

Mr Beman also says the company hopes users will use such tools to encourage friends to register.

The drive comes a month before the mid-term US House and Senate elections on November 7.

Visit the MySpace Declare Yourself page.

Coonan cites YouTube as cross-media justification

Communications Minister Helen Coonan is justifying proposed cross-media laws using internet communication technology as alternatives to mainstream media market.

Senator Coonan says the popularity of YouTube and Google Video proves the need for cross-media reform because new players are finding their own space in a changing media market.

"Media players are now facing even more competition from amateur content."

"These days, young people are more interested in creating their own content and showing it on forums such as YouTube than just taking what is on offer on traditional television," she says.

She also says those who dismiss blogs and online communities as merely a source of diversity are missing the point.

"Their illegitimacy is their strength. The mass-market media is changing and the cost of not adapting will mean a generation lost to the internet."

Opposition communications spokesman Stephen Conroy says Ms Coonan is out of touch with reality for saying the rise of YouTube justifies media ownership reform.

"Very few Australians turn to YouTube for news and information, as opposed to entertainment," Senator Conroy says.

"When Australians use the internet to access news, they overwhelmingly go to the websites owned by the traditional media players."

Bahrain e-voting plans dropped amid secret rigging concerns

The Bahrain government has dropped plans for electronic voting in the upcoming parliamentary elections after allegations of vote-rigging plans.

A recent unofficial report from a British government consultant says a secret organisation, funded with BHD$1million (AUS$3.58million) from a senior government official, has been working to influence the outcome of the 2006 election.

The report also claims a group of officials in charge of e-voting are a part of this secret organisation.

Bahrain Central Informatics Organisation (CIO) Shaikh Ahmad Bin Atiyatallah Al Khalifa says the voting process in the 2006 elections will be the same as that of 2002 using ballot boxes.

"For the sake of national interest, we have asked the executive director of the elections not to implement electronic voting in the 2006 elections and to implement the mechanism used in 2002," he says.

Political advocacy groups have praised the decision and call for further action.

Bahrain Transparency Society president Dr Jasem Al Ajmi says the Bahrain government must take further steps to ensure people become more familiar with e-voting to avoid a repeat of this confusion in the 2010 elections.

"The annulment of the e-voting is a positive indication from the country's leadership because it builds new measures of confidence and consolidates the tendency towards having transparent elections."

e-Democracy 06 in London

UK e-Democracy organisation Headstar will host their second annual e-Democracy conference in London next month.

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