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e-Democracy update - 31/5/06 - Aussie politican opens debate site, and people to choose third US 2008 prez candidate online

31 May, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

Aussie politician opens debate with new website

A member of the New South Wales Legislative Council has launched a new website to raise the public's voice on government decisions.

NSW Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) Penny Sharpe says in her new blog her site will give people more input into NSW Parliament decisions.

"In NSW, there are 135 politicians… only 27 have websites. There is very little opportunity for feedback or ongoing discussion. I want to change this," Ms Sharpe says.

"I want pennysharpe.com to be a place to float and debate ideas, seek new ways of doing things and build support for progressive causes."

The website features a blog with comments, links to political resources, and a soon-to-be opened online forum.

Visit her website here.

US political party gets net users to choose candidate in 2008

A US political group will allow internet users to choose and champion a third presidential ticket in the 2008 presidential election.

The Unity08 group allows all American voters to select a candidate in the first half of 2008 through a virtual and secure online convention.

The party will campaign a presidential and vice-presidential candidacy ticket on the condition that a) one is Republican and one is Democrat, or b) both are independents.

The group's founders say that typical candidates of the two major parties focus increasingly on issues of narrow interest to voters.

"We want to force them [Democrats and Republicans] to pay attention to the crucial issues," says Jim Jonas, CEO of Unity08.

Doug Bailey, Unity08 Founders Council member and former staffer to ex-president Gerald Ford, says Unity08's online convention will involve the people in the picking of finalists for president.

"For young people, this is their world… We are now into a whole new set of technologies. How can we make them serve our democracy?"

Visit their site here.

US Committee approves Net Neutrality bill

The US House Judiciary Committee will back a new antitrust bill that prevents communication networks from anti-neutrality activity.

The bill amends the US Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) so that broadband providers interconnect and provide their facilities on reasonable, non-discriminatory terms and give users equal access to lawful content, services and applications.

Judiciary chairman James Sensenbrenner (Rep) says the legislation is a necessary step to protect consumers and other Internet users from possible anti-competitive and discriminatory conduct by broadband providers

"The lack of competition in the broadband marketplace presents a clear incentive for providers to leverage dominant market power over the broadband bottleneck to pre-select, favour or prioritise internet content over their networks," Mr Sensenbrenner said.

Representatives from network providers say they are fighting any requirements because there is no threat or instance of consumers being blocked from internet sites or having their service degraded.

"We are optimistic that the majority in Congress will see this legislation as an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist," AT&T representative Tim McKone says.

This follows news from last week that US Senators have introduced a new Internet Freedom Preservation Act to amend the existing US Communications Act (1934).

Egyptian activist blogs from jail

A well-known Egyptian activist has been able to update his blog despite being in prison, according to various blogs.

Blogger Sandmonkey says jailed Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah was able to pass hand-written notes to his friends so that they could post for him.

"He seems in high spirits, and they seem to have left him unharmed so far, so that's good to hear. That means the campaign has been successful so far," Sandmonkey writes.

Egyptian bloggers launched a campaign against Alaa’s arrest several weeks ago. An online petition is also available to sign.

A changing world for Malaysian politicians

The head of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) says politicians need a greater grasp of the new media technologies when dealing with the public.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu says public intellectuals frequently write commentaries on the Internet that now attract younger citizens.

"These cyber-political debates must not be taken lightly as the future generations, especially those in the mid-20s, see this vehicle as their primary source of information," he says.

"Becoming computer-savvy is imperative for modern day politicians."

Samy Vellu has helmed MIC since 1989.

New conference dates

Headstar will host their "Building the Perfect Council Web Site" in London on July 11, 2006 at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The event will draw on seven-years worth of collected wisdom from the annual 'Better Connected' review of all UK council web sites, bringing together experts and practitioners to share tips and warn against pitfalls.

Visit their website.

The e-Governance Academy will host the "Democracy in an information society" conference on June 9, 2006 at the Hotel Viru Conference Centre in Tallinn, Estonia.

Guest lecturers include University of Leeds e-Democracy professor Stephen Coleman and Centre of Excellence for e-democracy director Isobel Harding.

Visit the e-Governance Academy's website.

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