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Govt unveils plans for eDemocracy

Just 'elastoplast for sickly politics'

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The Government is looking at ways it can use technology to reform the way people influence the running of the country.

Publishing a consultation paper today, the Government hopes it will "invigorate debate" and "enhance citizens' involvement" in the democratic process.

The document In the service of democracy examines two areas for Government action - the way people can interact with Government using technology, and e-voting.

Said Robin Cook, Leader of the House of Commons: "Our strategy for e-Democracy offers new ways of participating and seeks to complement rather than replace existing structures.

"The paper sets out our aim of using new technologies to promote, strengthen and enhance our democratic structures," he said.

However, the think-tank iSociety claims the Government hasn't been bold enough and has called on it to be more radical in the way technology can be used to enhance the democratic process.

Said iSociety spokesperson James Crabtree said: "This paper is an important step-forward, and puts Britain in pole position to capitalise on opportunities to use new technology to improve the workings of democracy. However, the Government now needs to think even bigger.

"eDemocracy needs to be more than an elastoplast for sickly politics. Without genuine new thinking and changing the way that politics is run, technology will not help to improve participation.

"Basically, if people don’t want to vote, and aren’t interested in participating, the fact that they could do it online will make no difference at all," he said.

The Government's consultation paper is available at www.edemocracy.gov.uk.

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