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e-Democracy update - 7/6/06 - Google's net neutrality battle, Luxembourg blogging and mystery blogger criticises judge

07 June, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

Google president meets with US lawmakers

Google's co-founder and president has met with US lawmakers to discuss legislation omitting net neutrality protection.

Google president Sergey Brin says the current telecommunications reform bill, due for voting in the House of Representatives, does not go far enough in terms of net neutrality.

"The thesis is that some content providers will pay for premium service. Why are they paying? Just because they feel charitable toward the telcos and ISPs? I assume they are paying because otherwise they would have worse performance, or maybe it won't really work," Mr Brin says.

Mr Brin met with Republican Senator John McCain yesterday and says he "[does] not know where McCain will come out on the issue."

The bill will allow US Federal Communications Commission to enforce the September 2005 broadband policy statement that entitles consumers to access the content and applications of their choice but without regard to net neutrality.

Luxembourg government's new blog

Luxembourg's government has created a new blog site where citizens can participate in debates on the shape and direction of Europe's future.

Luxembourg Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Schmit says he launched the blog site "L√ętzebuerg an Europa - Parlons Europe" on Europe Day (May 9, 2006).
He also says the project needs the support of its citizenry.

"We must launch a major democratic debate about Europe, which offers such immense potential, if we hope to move beyond today's growing public apathy," he says.

Mr Schmit says the site intends to encourage an informal exchange of views between policy-makers and Luxembourg's citizens on the larger issues facing Europe, rather than promote official government positions.

Porcupine stirs pot in Delaware

A US judge has swept his chambers for electronic bugs after constant criticism and leaking of personal information from a mysterious online critic known as "Peter Porcupine".

Delaware County President Judge Kenneth A. Clouse says he is not pleased with the anonymous owner of blogging site CommonSense.

"There was sensitive personnel information and all kinds of things that were leaked out. They were either leaked or the phones were tapped," Clouse says.

"Do I think that some of this is the work of people who take every opportunity to make me look bad? Yes."

Clouse says the two FBI agents investigating security in his chambers could not find any electronic bugs.

The pseudonym "Peter Porcupine" is a reference to 18-century US politician William Cobbett who wrote controversial articles under the same name.

Candidate websites lack feedback options

A US political academic says political candidate websites need options for constituents to talk back to campaigners.

Iowa State University political science professor Dianne Bystrom says the web has a huge potential and candidates are not using it to its full potential.

"Certainly, for those of us who study political communication, this is the new thing to study and not only with the fundraising and the community building, but also getting out the vote," she says.

Her comments were in reference to political candidate websites running for governor in Iowa.

BBC launches Coffeehouse Challenge

The British Broadcasting Corporation has created a forum for planned discussions in the UK as part of their e-democracy Action Network.

The website claims to "[bring] people together to discuss problems in their area and come up with solutions to tackle anything from street crime to environmental issues".

The project is a co-development between the BBC and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA).

Visit the Coffeehouse Challenge website here.

New Democrats blog in New Jersey

US Democrats are announcing a new feedback blog for the Middletown, New Jersey area.

Middletown Democratic Chairman Joe Caliendo says he hopes the blog will educate people before they head to polls.

"People don't give a damn anymore. They vote the same no matter what happens in town, even through all of the corruption stuff," Mr Caliendo says.

"This county has been pretty much Republican for the past 25 years. They've been here so long, in the county and in Middletown. I just want people to know more about what the Democrats are doing in town, because I think it's important."

Middletown Democratic Chairman Joe Caliendo says he created the blog for his party after taking notice of blogs from local Republicans.

"It's only been up for one month, but I have received positive feedback so far," he says.

Visit the blog here.

Visit the Middletown Democrats website here.

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