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e-Democracy update - 5/4/06 - Crackdown on fake QLD petitioners and LA protests planned with MySpace

05 April, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

Queensland cracks down on fake e-petition participants

Queensland parliament will examine allegations of fake names on their online petition service in response to an independent member’s claims.

Independent MP Peter Wellington first raised the allegations when participants had not included their personal details on e-petitions.

Mr Wellington says the investigation will test the governing of electronic petitions.

"This is the first time there's been a question about compliance in relation to the e-petitions," he says.

"It will be a landmark decision because the committee will probably have to consider things like the policing of petitions, what standard of checking is required and should there be better checking of the names."

Parliament Speaker Tony McGrady will refer the matter to the Members' Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee for investigation.

Students plan protests through MySpace

Students in the US have used online networking site MySpace to organise various protests against a controversial immigration bill.

Reports estimated almost 15,000 students in Los Angeles schools staged walk-outs after learning about organised protests from MySpace.

Other Californian counties attracted protests of around 1,500 students through MySpace.

Orange County student Melissa Lopez says she organised a 1,500 people protest for her county using MySpace.

"MySpace was huge in organizing this protest," Ms Lopez says.

"Most of the people I know at school have a MySpace (account) and we're pretty much able to get in touch through the site."

More student protests were also planned in other parts of the US against federal bill 4437, which if passed as law by the US Senate would make illegal immigration a felony.

MySpace was launched in 2003 as a social networking site that links members to personal blogs, videos and photos of other members.

Politics in the US: Online or TV?

More US politicians are embracing online politics because the impact of television is becoming less influential, according to media analysts.

Media consultant Mark McKinnon says television advertising has become less influential in influencing voters over the last two years.

His comments are echoed by political consultant Justin Germany who says fewer people are watching regular TV.

"They're watching TV in a time-shifted environment… and yet there is a hunger for this and that's where web video comes into play," Mr Germany says.

Some analysts say more US candidates are embracing online political advertising in time for the 2006 congressional election.

Online advertising expert Evan Tracey says spending on political advertising will most likely increase.

"I wouldn't be surprised at all if Web advertising goes up to 20 to 50 million [US dollars] by 2006 and even greater by 2008," Mr Tracey says.

International e-participation conference planned

A major international e-participation conference is planned for Hungary and the USA.

The International e-Participation and Local Democracy Symposium will include guest speakers such as Leeds University professor Stephen Coleman, European Commission Head of e-Inclusion Paul Timmers, and UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs director Guido Bertucci.

"The [symposium] presents an ideal opportunity to take the discussion on e-participation and e-government forward," said a spokesperson for Mr Bertucci.

Organisers have scheduled the Symposium for Budapest, Hungary on July 26-28, 2006 at Hotel Intercontinental and for Baltimore, Maryland, USA on August 2-4, 2006 at Inner Harbour Sheraton Hotel.

Sign up for the conference here.

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