Committee of experts on protection of journalism and safety of journalists (MSI-JO)

Activities
STANDARD-SETTING
  Steering Committee (CDMSI)
  Bureau of the Committee (CDMSI-BU)
  Former Steering Committee (CDMC)
  Former Bureau of the Committee (CDMC-BU)
  Committee of Experts on Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists (MSI-JO)
  Committee of Experts on cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT)  
CONVENTIONS
  Transfrontier Television
  Conditional Access
COOPERATION
  Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building
FORMER GROUPS OF SPECIALISTS
  Rights of Internet Users
  Information Society
  New Media
  Public Service Media Governance
  Cross-border Internet
  Protection Neighbouring Rights of Broadcasting Organisations
  Media Diversity
  Public service Media
 
Events
  Conference Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age - Opportunities, Rights, Responsibilities, Belgrade, 7-8/11/2013
  Conference "The Hate factor in political speech - Where do responsibilities lie?", Warsaw18-19 September 2013
  Conference of Ministers, Reykjavik - Iceland, 28-29 May 2009
  European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)
 
Documentation
  Conventions
  Committee of Ministers texts
  Parliamentary Assembly texts
  Ministerial Conferences
  Publications
  Translations
 
Useful links

Strasbourg, 23 April 2002

MM-S-OD(2001)017rev3

 
 

GROUP OF SPECIALISTS ON ON-LINE SERVICES AND DEMOCRACY

(MM-S-OD)

______

Replies to the questionnaire on the democratic potential of the new communication and information services

______

Secretariat memorandum
prepared by the
Directorate General of Human Rights

_____

Introduction

This document reproduces the replies submitted by members of the MM-S-OD to the questionnaire on the democratic potential of the new communication and information services.

Questionnaire

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?
Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?
Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, housebuyers etc.)?

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referanda or popular votes)?

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

* * *

BULGARIA

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?
Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?
Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

Two main documents define the scope of e-government and e-democracy are the strategy and national programme for the development of the Information Society (IS) and the Telecommunication sector policy.

The Strategy and national programme for the development of the Information Society (IS) have been elaborated with the following objectives and tasks:

- develop and enforce an overall legislative framework, rules and procedures, that are harmonised with the European Union legislation, for service provision, for living and working in the Information Society;

- provide all citizens with equal access to modern, efficient and high quality telecommunications and information services, as well as equal opportunities to acquire appropriate skills for their use;

- create a new living and working environment through the wide use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) in the public, political, economic and cultural areas.

The present challenges of building an e-government and e-democracy and providing a variety of Internet based services imply important requirements for the telecommunications.

- digital infrastructure with high transmission and exchange capacity;
- very good international connectivity;
- uniform development at the national and regional levels.

The telecommunications policy reflects the above requirements. The Council for the co-ordination of the activities of integrated administrative services is responsible for the implementation of the National Programme for administrative services. It has developed and adopted a general Action Plan for e-government and e-democracy. The adopted Legal framework ensures Information Society development, and in particular e-government:

- Telecommunications Law (1998);
- Law on Radio and Television (1998);
- Law on National Standardisation (1999);
- Law on Access to Public Information;
- Law on copyright and neighbouring rights;
- Law on Statistics (1999);
- Law on Small and Medium Enterprises (1999);

A Law on electronic documents and electronic signature was adopted in March 2001. It sets a framework for the use of electronic documents and electronic signature, as well as the procedure and conditions for providing certification services.

Some of the main projects promoting e-government:

- A highly reliable high-speed network, based on ATM technologies is established for the exchange of information between the administrations in view of the e-Government project. At present, the network includes 96 computer networks of ministries and other bodies of the state administration.

- In June 2001, a Center for Promotion of the IS was opened in the Central Post Office in Sofia with the objective of contributing to general awareness-raising through public information services, education and training as well as assistance for the participation in IS projects.

- A system for issuing e-signature certificates, which is the basis for e-government, was established by “Information system” Inc. and presented on 4 September 2001;

- The work on the DISNY project, managed by the Ministry of Finance, has already resulted in a number of government “front offices” providing the citizens in large and small towns in the country with services which traditionally originate from either the central or municipal administrations.

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)
Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)
Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail? Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc.)?

All ministries and State agencies have their own web-sites with analogic structure:

- the structure of the office;
- e-mail for communication with the information office;
- enforced laws;
- law projects;
- some of the offices maintain on-line discussion forums for the activities of the office; the answers are issued in a period of time that depends on the characteristics of the opinion or question;
- information for specific activities of the office.

The tax agency organises on-line consultations in real-time for questions about the amount of taxes and the way to fill a tax declaration. The whole information, enumerated above, is also accessible through an integrated government portal http://portal.government.bg. Although the practice to communication via e-mails is widespread, there are still no established guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail. Information for cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers) is handled by private portals, for instance: www.dir.bg, www.bol.bg, etc.

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)
How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

The Parliament also maintains its own web-page, www.parliament.bg, containing information on its legal programme, its legal projects, and the work of its different offices. Opinions on the legal projects are also received through e-mail. Their acceptance depends on their aim and on the political decisions of the national representatives.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

The main political parties have their own web-pages, which offer opportunities for interactive dialogues.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referanda or popular votes)?

There are still no plans for public polls, because the Internet penetration is 6%. Such plans will be included in the development of the e-government Action Plan.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

The Internet media organise daily polls concerning different political events, decisions for the government, every-day matters, etc. and publish the results of the vote on-line. These results still do not reflect public opinion fully and accurately since Internet users represent only 6% of the population.

ESTONIA

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

Yes, a governmental programme called “Tiger Leap” was introduced in 1996. Over and above its educational role, one of targets of this programme was to build public internet access points in public libraries, schools, community houses, etc.

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

No

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

A special web site for open discussions and public debates about new legislation, ideas for (change of existing laws or for new) legislation, opinions on draft laws, etc has been created www.tom.riik.ee. No real activities so far. Information about these services is available on governmental web sites, printed information bulletins available in municipal places, articles in printed press and news stories on radio and TV.

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

There are independent web sites for Parliament www.riigikogu.ee, the government www.riik/et/valitsus, the Prime Minister and the President. All Ministries have their own sites. Central information is gathered on the following portal www.riik.ee.

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

No

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, housebuyers etc.)?

They are more for governmental services and follow the administrative structures, but municipal sites www.tallinn.ee for example provide helpful information and on-line assistance concerning practical questions.

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

A special web site called “Today I Decide” was launched to give the public the possibility of influencing the decision-making process and introducing new ideas. Special polls and fora are held. The team of the web site moderates the fora. Its basic role is to select the best ideas, “clean from crap” formulate results and present them to the parties involved (is there subject for law etc.)
www.tom.riik.ee
www.riigikogu.ee

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

All parties have their home pages. Most of them allow Q&A, fora and other forms of on-line communication.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referanda or popular votes)?

Yes, the governmental sites www.riik.ee and www.tom.riik.ee are good examples of existing activities. All ministries have also their web-sites with on-line discussion functionalities.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

Internet portals such as www.everyday.com and www.delfi.ee are the most popular places for comments, public discussions, polls etc. Daily newspapers have also web-sites supporting on-line discussions (see www.postimees.ee, www.epl.ee) but these activities are considered to be less important to them. Unfortunately, public service broadcasters and private broadcasters do not use Internet as a tool for open discussions.

FINLAND

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

The Finnish Government objective is to promote competition on communications market and construction of communications infrastructure on a commercial basis which enables affordable prices for consumers. Traditional universal service obligations do not apply to new services. By regulation and, where necessary, by participation in development activities, the Government aims at ensuring the development of alternative technologies on the markets. The Government pays particular attention to regional distribution of broadband data-transfer services. The Government is committed to the promotion of digital television which is regarded as a kind of super high way of information.

The Finnish Government has also taken several actions aiming at the prevention of alienation.

- A cross-administrative alienation work group studies risks of citizen alienation in the Information Society.
- The availability of and access to network connections has been studied.
- Almost all the municipal libraries have Internet connections.
- Attention has been paid to special groups of citizens (e.g. www sites of public administration)

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

A decision on electronic transactions was made by the Government in 1998.

There is an Information Society Advisory Board which considers e-Government and e-democracy policies. The Board ensures that the authorities offer more possibilities for enterprise activity, inter alia in the social and health care sectors and in the support services of public administration, with the aim of increasing the efficiency and versatility of the whole sale production. It is also important to reduce the administrative costs of enterprises and to facilitate the management of statutory employer and other corresponding tasks in small and starting enterprises.

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

Implemented legislative amendments:

- Act on electronic communications in administration (January 2000)
- Identification Card Act (December 1999)
- Certification services of electronic communication, amendments to the Act on Registration Administration and the Population Information Act
- Act on testing the Seamless Service Chain of Social and Health Care and the Social security Card

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

All the e-mail addresses may be found easily in the Internet. Since last spring, there have been once a month open web discussions on actual themes with the relevant minister participating in the discussion.

Public authorities have a responsibility to make information available on the legislation being drafted and on other pending projects of general importance e.g. by means of a project register. Registers and usually even draft acts may also be found on the Internet during the consultation period.

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

In Finland, there is an Act on the openness of government activities according under which the authorities have an obligation to promote the openness of their activities by disseminating information on the latter and by producing relevant information material. The authorities have to ensure that documents central to their activity are easily available. The authorities themselves must actively produce information on their activities and social conditions. This information includes e.g. publications describing the activities of the authority, statistics and a register of the decisions made. The Act also requires that the authorities ensure the availability of this information by making it available e.g. in libraries and data networks.

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

Yes. The same rules apply to both e-mails and “traditional” mails.

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc.)?

Finland is building its national portal on public sector information and its services. A pilot of the portal was built first and experiences of the users were collected. The portal will be opened in spring 2002. At this moment the Citizen's Guide offers public administration information on the Internet.

The Ministry of Finance, Public Management Department, has published the Citizen's Guide in order to present public administration services from the citizen's viewpoint. It was first published in a book form, but with the development of information society, it was natural that the Guide should appear on the Internet. The on-line version of the Guide was developed on the basis of the book and it was published on the Internet in summer 1997. Since then, the Guide has only been on the Internet, both in Finnish and Swedish and partly in English, too.

The Citizen's Guide includes essential information that citizens need in different life situations. The guide also provides a list of governmental organisations with their web-addresses. The Guide has had about 5000 hits a day in spring 2001.

However, Finland has not a comprehensive web-service of all public sector organisations with their services. The Act on the Openness of Government Activities (http://www.om.fi/3470.htm) and eEurope action plan (http://europa.eu.int/information_society/eeurope/action_plan/index_en.htm) set targets for the availability of public sector information. All governmental organisations and their services should be found on the same web address.

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

The calendar and agendas of the plenary sessions and committee meetings are publicly available in the Internet. Even the e-mail addresses of members of Parliament may be found on the Internet.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

All the political parties have their own Internet sites with a possibility for chat discussion and a lot of information on their activities.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referanda or popular votes)?

Public authorities have a responsibility to make information available on the legislation being drafted and on other pending projects of general importance, e.g. by means of a project register. Registers and normally even draft acts may be found also on the Internet during the consultation period.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

Most newspapers and media companies have their own Internet sites, some of them with a possibility for chat discussion.

FRANCE

A. General policy on e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

An overview of steps taken is provided by the decisions which the Interministerial Committee on the Information Society (CISI) [which reports to the Prime Minister] took on 10 July 2000. They are available at the following addresses:

* French version: http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/cisi100700.htm;
* English version (html and pdf format):
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/cisi100700/GB.HTM;
* German version (html format)
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/cisi100700/ALL.HTM
* Spanish version (html format):
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/cisi100700/ESP.HTM

The measures, intended to reduce the “digital divide”, aim to:

- enable everyone to master the tools of the information society by developing public digital-technology facilities:

- the plan is to open over 7,000 public locations offering Internet access by 2003 [the facilities will be located in local employment offices, local government-department offices, public libraries, youth information centres and so on], and these will include 2,500 so-called “new digital public facilities” governed by a charter; 4,000 additional youth employment jobs of multi-media instructor to be created; a secondary-school Internet and multi-media diploma to be introduced, etc;

- a Prime Minister’s circular laying down the arrangements for establishing public digital facilities was published on 24 August 2001; the circular introduced a digital public facilities (EPN) quality mark (applications for it submittable on-line); by mid-November 2001 some hundred applications for the quality mark had reached the Interministerial Office for Public Access to the Internet (MAPI) and over 60 access facilities had been awarded the mark; fuller information is available on: http://www.internet.gouv.fr/accespublic;

- facilitate access to the Internet (Internet access in every student room; firms and administrative services to provide computer equipment free to staff and voluntary organisations, etc);

- ensure balanced development countrywide (incentives to continue the rapid development of high-speed regional networks, in particular for research);

- combat the North-South digital divide (this is a priority in French co-operation policy [23 million francs allocated in 2001 to the fund for the development of information highways in French-speaking countries]);

- prepare for the future:

- by boosting numbers in the information-technology professions [establishment of an advanced school of Internet studies near Marseille, 45 computer science and multimedia vocational degree courses set up since September 2000 (meaning another 1,200 future professionals in the information and communication technologies sector), a 50% increase over five years in graduate numbers from telecommunications schools, and a forecast of over 30,000 higher-education graduates with qualifications in information and communication technologies];

- developing the state-sponsored R&D effort (allocation of an additional billion francs to R&D in the ICT sector; launch of RENATER 3, boosting the entire research and education Internet network to a speed of 2.5 gigabits/sec by 2002, 16 times faster the present speed).

Additional measures in support of the ICT sector were introduced throughout 2001 and will be found at: http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/frame-actualite.html#pierret231001.

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

The government action plan for the information society (PAGSI) is set out in detail at:
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/pagsi.htm (versions downloadable in French, English, German and Spanish).

It comprises six priority development areas in which implementation measures will gradually be introduced:

- ICT in education;
- an ambitious cultural policy for the new networks (digitalisation of audiovisual and arts archives, etc);
- ICT modernisation of the public services (Internet access to administrative services, networking of services, etc);
- ICT as a prime tool for industry;
- meeting the challenge of industrial and technological innovation;
- helping bring about effective regulation of and a protective framework for the new information networks.

Other discussion and research on the subject are available under the general heading “La France dans la société de l’information” (1999) at the following Internet sites:

http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/fsi99/accueil.htm
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/cisi190199/lettre.htm containing:
- CISI decisions of 19 January 1999;
- government newsletter, February 1999 – special issue on France in the information society – also available:
* in English: http://www.internet.gouv.fr/english/textesref/letter.htm;
* in German:http://www.internet.gouv.fr/deutsch/textesref/brief.htm;
* in Spanish: http://www.internet.gouv.fr/espanol/textesref/carta.htm.

Updated information (government reforms concerning, in particular, electronic administration) is also available at:
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/frame-actualite.html#cire01

Has any legislation been adopted in this connection or is any legislation planned?

Public consultation about adopting framework legislation on the information society was conducted in 1999 at Internet site http://www.finances.gouv.fr/société_information (outlines of the draft framework legislation are also available in English and Spanish). The draft legislation has not yet been enacted.

A list of the main French information-society legislation and regulations since 1998 or due to go before Parliament will be found at:
http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/pagsi2/accueil.htm

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (for example, do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

a) National level

There are numerous discussion groups on specific subjects - the sites of most ministries or public bodies have them (see, for instance, the PAGSI site http://www.internet.gouv.fr or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs site http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr).

A number of official French sites have had discussion groups/chatrooms as input to debate on Europe and its prospects (see, for example, the discussion groups over a number of months at http://www.elysee.fr [this forum has been in progress since 9 May 2001], http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.fr, http://www.assembleenatinale.fr and http://www.senat.fr, and real-time conversations on 9 October and 14 November 2001 from 12 noon to 12.40 with the European affairs minister, Pierre Moscovici, on http://www.dipolmatie.gouv.fr/avenir/index.html.

For the first time the French Government also held a public consultation, from 25 July to 15 September 2000, on the draft decree on electronic signatures transposing the European directive on the subject. At 5 October 2000 almost 20,000 Internet users had consulted the electronic page concerned. A summary of comments received, plus the hundred or so written contributions sent in by Internet users, can now be consulted on-line (http://www.internet.gouv.fr/francais/textesref/pagsi2/signelect-projdecret/sommaire.htm).

b) Local level

The town of Issy-les-Moulineaux (Hauts-de-Seine district, Ile-de-France region) has a site http://www.issy.com which demonstrates that on-line participation in some town council discussions is perfectly feasible (in this case via the site’s “Internet citoyen” heading, giving access free of charge to an interactive television system, e-T2i, which the Television Council [CSA] gave clearance for in December 1998). Members of the public can “attend” debates via the Internet (or on cable) and put questions, which the meeting takes a break to look at and answers when it resumes. The site also provides speedy access to the Council’s discussion papers and reports of Council meetings.

The Issy-les-Moulineaux site (launched 1995, 26,000 pages consulted per month, a hundred or so e-mails received weekly by the mayor, who has his staff answer each e-mail the day it is received) seems to be acquiring emulators, such as Amiens (http://www.amiens.com) and some quite small municipalities like Parthenay, whose site (http://www.district-parthenay.fr) contains over 4,000 pages of information on municipal life, local associations and local events; all major projects are covered, with details of financing, companies awarded contracts, etc.

Reports of town council meetings are available on-line and there are discussion groups on local issues. The town also produces an electronic newsletter, InTown-Gazette. All this information is available via an Internet connection which the town has been providing to local people free of charge since 1996. Associations in Parthenay, ADSL connections, etc have greatly developed as a result.

c) In most cases, both at national and local level, consultation of this kind is advertised on the Internet, cable and satellite channels (for example, on the parliamentary channels, the political discussion programmes on LCI [the TF1 group’s cable channel], the cultural and social-comment slots on Paris-Première [e.g. the Rive droite-Rive gauche programme), the e-news and Europa slots on the Euronews channel, etc).

However, the information is also available by subscription or by electronic newsletter on public sites, in the press (in specialist articles or regular Internet columns in main national dailies like Le Monde, Le Figaro and Libération), on radio, etc.

Usually, there is a moderator or facilitator who plays a key role in the on-line consultation or discussion group, in real time or over a longer period. He or she can issue:

- the subjects on which the public is asked to comment, and the time limits for doing so;

- a summary of the replies, which can then be published on the site (a preliminary summary of comments mailed to site http://www.elysee.fr is being prepared for the debate on Europe);

- or, in some cases, for the attention of the relevant public authorities, the replies plus a summary of them (examples: the opinion poll site http://www.expressionpublique.com managed by former staff of the SOFRES and IFOP polling agencies, and the summary of comments mailed to the http://www.elysee.fr site in the Europe debate, which will be sent to the group of leading figures chaired by Conseil d’Etat member Guy Braibant and to the Ministry of European Affairs, which is co-ordinating debate in France in the run up to the Brussels-Laeken European Council on 14 and 15 December 2001).

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? For example, is there a single government or a state portal, and are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

The official French administrative-services portal is accessible at http://www.service-public.fr. It contains both various practical information and key organisational details about central-government, local and international services (the international ones being embassies, consulates, etc).

The government printing press (http://www.ladocfrancaise.gouv.fr) annually publishes (and supplies – price 7 Euros) a guide to official Internet sites which has details of over 3,200 French government services, agencies and outlying departments and local authorities (the local authorities include almost 1,700 municipalities). There are also details of a hundred or so sites of European institutions, a selection of sites of European Union member countries and the sites of the main international organisations, in alphabetical order within each category. Since 1997, therefore, French electronic administrative services have greatly developed: in little over three years, 2 600 official sites (central-government services and local authorities) have started up, plus almost 150 “gouv.fr” sites (ministries, prefectures and outlying departments).

Except in matters of digital formatting that have to be observed if an Internet site is to function properly, each administrative service is free to decide how much information it makes available and how the information is presented and structured.

Each service nonetheless has its own internal control procedures for checking the accuracy and non-confidentiality, for outside consumption purposes, of the information to appear on the site (internal material on questions thought to be too sensitive cannot appear, for instance), and the customary administrative information rules apply.

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

French public servants are required to show the same professional conscientiousness (promptness and attention to quality) in dealing with electronic mail as in handling conventional correspondence.

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-oriented in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example, special sites for students, parents, housebuyers, etc)?

Most ministries and other state administrative services in fact have Internet sites with a great deal of information that serves several purposes (both reflecting administrative structure and being consumer-oriented, either at separate locations or within the one location). This covers:

- various practical matters (at least the telephone numbers, fax numbers and names of relevant staff in each ministry or public service in the official French administrative-services portal http://www.service-public.fr);

- routine business which members of the public can conduct in various areas: for example, specialist headings are built into the portal http://www.service-public.fr (on-screen transactions and the most commonly needed administrative forms [600 are available, including forms for on-screen VAT declarations, social insurance declarations, collective agreements, etc]) and the finance ministry site http://www.minefi.gouv.fr/pratique/ir2001/index.htm, which has electronic forms for income tax returns and provides automatic calculation of the amount payable). There are also local sites (eg http://www.issy.com, the Issy-les-Moulineaux site) providing administrative forms in pdf format;

- various institutions and public bodies of national importance in charge of policy implementation in various sectors (training for administrative careers: http://www.ena.fr [Ecole Nationale d’Administration]); scientific and academic research: http://www.cnrs.fr [Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique]); information society: http://www.internet.gouv.fr, etc);

- library of official administrative reports: http://www.service-public.fr (the French administrative-services general portal], http://www.ladocfrancaise.gouv.fr (the government printing press’s site);

- various papers and discussions of an administrative or political nature (http://www.asmp.fr [the site of the Academy of Ethical and Political Sciences]);
- structure of the French public services, competitive exams in the administrative sector and plans for reform of French administration: http://fonction-publique.gouv.fr;

- structure of the court system. A great deal of information is also available:

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (for example, do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period?; how is such consultation organised?; is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

Remarks on Parliament action allowing the public to influence decision-making by means of the new communications services are very similar mutatis mutandis to those on administrative action (and the discussion groups on Europe and its prospects).

Examples of public access, via the Internet:

- general background (historical and political) to decisions: http://www.assemblee nationale.fr, http://www.senat.fr, which in each case describe the parliamentary function of the institution, its history, the mode of functioning of its various bodies, etc);
- programmes, agenda and events for the two chambers: same two sites;
- external relations (in particular at European level): same two sites;
- key provisions of the legislation which set them up: same two sites;
- main legal codes (civil, criminal, criminal procedure, commercial, etc), main legislative, regulatory and case-law output: http://www.assembleenationale.fr, http://www.senat.fr, together with links to the following more specialised sites relevant to Parliament’s work: http://www.conseil-constitutionel.fr, http://www.conseil-etat.fr, http://www.ccomptes.fr (the site of the Cour des Comptes/Auditor-General’s Department), http://www.mediateur-de-la-republique.fr, http://www.journal-officiel.gouv.fr, http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr (site covering French legislation).

The, in most cases, merely consultative nature of the data to which the public has access in connection with Parliament’s work is indicative that the practice of offering on-going or planned legislation for public consultation, Internet comment on Parliamentary debates and live Internet coverage of debate with an interactive dimension remain limited. Some municipal councils (e.g., again, Issy-les-Moulineaux - see under Part B, The Administration”) are exceptions here, but there has been another notable one in connection with the French Senate.

From October to December 1999, the Senate held a first ever Internet forum (all users admitted) on a private member’s bill on bringing the Internet and free softwares into general administrative use. One hundred and two thousand consultations were recorded and 1,404 comments were received on http://www.senat.fr/consult/loglibre/index.htm. Constructively, visitors to the site can compare the original bill with the bill as amended in the light of comments received. From May to December 1998, the Senate Cultural Affairs Committee held a consultation of specialists on a private member’s bill protecting the geological heritage. The arrangements and results (a summary of comments received and the text of the bill as amended post-consultation) are available at http://www.senat.fr/consult/geologie; a similar exercise can be consulted concerning protection of the moveable heritage (http://www.senat.fr/consult/mobilier.html). In a specific case (in the first quarter of 1999) a consultation, confined to specialists, was even held on a government bill (on innovation and research: see http://www.senat.fr/consult/recherche.html). Lastly, the Senate is increasingly holding consultations of specialists prior to legislative drafting (eg senator Hubert Haenel’s discussion group on the concept of a European constitution [52 sets of comments can be read at http://www.senat.fr/consult/constitution_europeenne.html]) and also after the legislative process (discussion group on youth and employment, organised by the Social Affairs Committee working group chaired by senator Alain Gournac for its stocktaking on the performance of the youth employment scheme [646 sets of comments are available at http://www.senat.fr/consult/emploisjeunes.html]).

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

a. Examples of public Internet access to politicians and elected representatives:

Some sites give biographical details of public figures, sometimes including financial details (the Senate site also gives details of allowances): see http://www.senat.fr, http://www.elysee.fr, http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.fr, http://www.assembleenationale.fr.

French politicians are increasingly using the new communication technologies to reach the public, involve it in interactive dialogue and encourage it to participate actively.

The examples we have given - the discussion groups organised by the European affairs ministry and the experiments in direct democracy at Issy-les-Moulineaux - show that use is gradually developing.

b. Political parties’ activities and the Internet

Most French political parties have an Internet site with electronic mailbox and built-in discussion groups. Some of them (http://www.rpr.fr [the Gaullist Rassemblement pour la République], http://www/parti-socialiste.fr, etc) use the possibilities opened up by electronic convergence (special presentation effects, television pictures accessible from the site if the user downloads RealPlayer, etc) to bring the audience certain aspects of national political life (interviews with or speeches by leading political figures, live parliamentary sittings, etc).

c. For information on French politics generally, or for speedy location of sites relating to election candidates, parties or institutions, the following are among the sites offering a free general citizen-information service:

- Nationally:

- http://www.professionpolitique.com, which gives full details of Internet sites of French political parties and political institutions;

- http://www.politiquementnet.fr, portal of the political weekly, Hémicycle;

- http://www.lapolitique.com, offering up-to-date political information in five main areas (elected representatives, citizens, current affairs, interviews, document base);

- http://www.carrefourlocal.org, offering general information on the structure of local French administration, the European institutions’ regional approach, local democracy in central and eastern Europe and a valuable directory of sites of French regions, départements and municipalities which can be accessed via a digital map of French administrative units;

- http://www.temps-reels.net, although belonging to the French Socialist Party, looks objectively at information societies (information technology in industry, intellectual property, protection of privacy, regional planning networks, local authorities’ role in the development of new infrastructure [in particular high-speed infrastructure], patentability of software, electronic voting, the emergence of e-learning and its implications for the education system, etc); in addition, its sub-site http://www.temps-reels.net/dossiers/siteseuro3.htm offers an interesting comparative study of French political parties with reference to their views on Europe;

- http://www.vielocale-viepublique.fr which has a general political atlas of France (highly up to date) and political studies by France’s observatory of political and parliamentary life;

- http://www.journalunet.com/99mai/dossierurope.shtml, with links to information on European institutions (a sub-site, produced for the spring 1999 European Parliament elections).

- Locally, there have been notable efforts to develop transparency of public life and free-of-charge public access. Most local authorities (regions, départements, municipalities) have their own sites, which represents an Internet engineering effort of 2.7 million elected representatives and local-authority staff.

The overall picture is that 100% of towns with populations over 100,000 have Internet sites, over 90% of towns with populations over 30,000, 55% of towns with populations over 5,000 and 1% of towns under 2,500 (source: e-mediacité, La Tribune of 7 March 2001): http://www.alsace.org, http://www.provence.org, http://www.ardennes.com, http://www.pas-de-calais.com, http://www.mairie-paris.fr, http://www.mairie-lyon.fr, http://www.mairie-marseille.fr, etc. Smaller municipalities like Parthenay (population 10,000, in the Deux-Sèvres département, Poitou-Charentes region) [http://www.district-parthenay.fr] or Douvaine (population 4,000, in Haute-Savoie) [http://www.ville-douvaine.fr] make considerable communication efforts despite small budgets.

In 2000, Douvaine and Issy-les-Moulineaux (already much mentioned here) both received a four-@-sign rating in the Villes Internet awards, which recognise outstanding Internet performance across the range of fields, the criteria being set by the VECAM association (Valeurs Européennes et Citoyennes sur les Autoroutes de l’Information et le Multimédia), which has the backing of the urban affairs ministry) [see http://www.vecam.org, plus information on Villes Internet at http://www.villes-internet.net].

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (eg public polls, hearings, consultations, referenda or popular votes)?

This question calls for a two-part answer.

1) Expression of public political will via the Internet is gradually developing. The first French experiment in Internet voting took place in Brest (Brittany) on 24 September 2000, for the referendum on introducing a five-year presidential term of office: 35% of voters at Brest main townhall cast their votes by Internet, using a system developed by the firm of consultants election.com (see http://www.election.com and http://www.election.com/fr/pressroom/pr2000/0324.htm on the Arizona electronic-voting experiment on 24 March 2000).

This pioneering use of the Internet for an official vote followed another Internet first in France, in March 2000, when the world conference on e-democracy elected a town council of local websurfers (Brest claims that 57% of jobs in Brest are equipped for the new technologies). Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Bourg-en-Bresse have also conducted partial voting experiments and Le Havre used the technology in the municipal elections on 11 and 18 March 2001, calculating that the initial investment in electronic machines for each polling station would have paid for itself within 2 to 3 elections.

While debate is under way about the advantages and drawbacks of electronic polling, local electronic experiments are spreading and can be viewed on:

- http://www.e1789.com (a site designed by an Accenture consultant) and http://www.lacyberelection.com (a site which receives town-improvement suggestions on which “cyber-citizens” can then vote);

- http://www.marianne-village.com, http://www.courrierdesmaires.com (for local elected representatives looking for advice, useful addresses, simulated calculations of seats won, model speeches, etc);

- http://www.temps-reels.net/dossiers/iac/vote.htm, a site offering voluminous information and discussion (with comparative descriptions of experiments in Arizona, Canada and Belgium).

In connection with elections (and often in between) (see Part B., “The Administration”), polling agencies use the Internet to sound out public opinion on the issues of the day. Site http://www.expressionpublique.com allows them to send replies (or summaries of them) to the relevant public authorities.

Lastly, various socio-economic bodies (e.g. trade unions) occasionally use the Internet to consult the workforce (not just the membership) on their preferences, in the interests of more consensual implementation of legislation (e.g. the 35-hour week).

2) The development of public expression of views via the Internet is accompanied by increasing regulation

- Regulation of political communication and electoral propaganda:

The rules on political communication, initially designed for radio and television, raise uncertainties when it comes to applying them to the Internet (websites, discussion groups, etc), which are audiovisual services within the meaning of Article 2, Freedom of Communication Act of 30 September 1986.

There are two main principles:

- publicity programmes of a political nature are forbidden by Article 14 (2) Freedom of Communication Act (this can be consulted at http://www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/loi-comm/);

- for electoral propaganda purposes, all commercial advertising in the press or on radio or television is banned in the three-month run-up to elections, and similar advertising campaigns in local-authority districts are banned in the six months preceding elections (Article L 52-1 of the Electoral Code) (see the specialist site http://www.canevet.com/legis/textes/elections.htm and its sub-section http://www.canevet.com/actua/archives/di-124.htm);

- Use of electoral data files by candidates or political parties:

As with all files containing the names of the data subjects, files compiled for political communication purposes have to be declared to the National Committee on Data Processing and Freedoms (CNIL).

Use of electoral rolls for opinion polling has to be cleared by the CNIL if the information gathered is not anonymous, or not fully so.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

In most cases, whether at the national or local level, publicity material about such public consultations is available on the Internet, on cable and satellite channels, by subscription or electronic newsletter, through the press (special articles and regular web features in main national dailies - or their electronic versions - such as Le Monde, Le Figaro and Libération) and on radio.

GRECE

A. Politique générale en matière de gouvernement électronique et de démocratie électronique

Est-ce que des mesures ont été prises pour assurer un accès universel et égal aux nouveaux services de communication et d’information?

Une série de mesures ont été prévues et décrites dans le programme opérationnel pour la société de l’information (OPIS, www.infosociety.gr). Ce programme représente la stratégie de la Grèce pour parvenir à un accès universel et égal aux services de communication et d’information. Il comprend un certain nombre de mesures qui doivent garantir l’efficacité du fonctionnement de l’administration publique, la diminution de la bureaucratie et du coût du service public et l’amélioration de la meilleure transparence et de la participation du public. Certaines de ces mesures sont déjà mises en œuvre mais les projets de base seront exécutés en 2002.

Est-ce que votre pays a adopté un plan d’action général dans le domaine du gouvernement électronique ou de la démocratie électronique?

Le programme opérationnel pour la société de l’information est le principal instrument. Dans le cadre de ce programme, le ministère de l’Intérieur a lancé un plan d’action relatif au gouvernement électronique qui s’achèvera au début de 2002.

Le secrétariat spécial de la société de l’information (secinfosoc@mnec.gr) élabore actuellement un premier document sur la démocratie électronique.

Est-ce qu’une législation a été adoptée à cet égard ou existe t-il des projets dans ce sens?

Les paragraphes 1 et 2 de l’article 5 A de la Constitution grecque prévoient le droit d’accès universel et égal à la société de l’information. Une loi sur les questions relatives à la société de l’information est en cours d’élaboration et fera l’objet d’un débat en 2002.

B. L’administration

Est-ce que les ministères et les agences du gouvernement permettent aux citoyens d’influencer leur processus de prise de décision à l’aide des nouveaux services de communication? Comment ceci s’organise-t-il (par exemple, est-ce que des consultations en ligne ont lieu en temps réel ou sur une période plus longue? Comment fait-on la publicité d’une telle consultation? Existe-t-il un modérateur ou un facilitateur et quel est son rôle?)

Les portails officiels de l’administration publique ont pour principal objectif de donner, au public, des informations sur les services publics et d’améliorer la relation entre l’Etat et le citoyen. Les informations données portent sur divers sujets comme l’économie, la politique sociale, les relations internationales, la politique extérieure, le développement de la «société de l’information», etc. Les citoyens peuvent exercer une influence (directe) sur la prise de décision par l’intermédiaire des nouvelles technologies de l’information. Toutefois, l’un des principaux objectifs du ministère de l’Intérieur, de l’administration publique et de la décentralisation, qui joue un rôle important dans la mise en œuvre des nouveaux services de communication dans l’administration publique, est de préparer un «groupe de citoyens» qui doit contribuer au principe démocratique de la participation des citoyens au processus décisionnel. Le recours à de nouvelles formes de communication comme le courrier électronique ou la télécopie, dont l’utilisation a été institutionnalisée par l’article 14 de la loi 2672/1998 et est une réalité depuis le 1.3.1999, favorisera cet objectif. Pour faire face à la nécessité d’accroître la participation des citoyens au processus décisionnel, il convient de réglementer certaines initiatives prises par les ministères, lesquels présentent les projets de lois sur leur site Internet afin d’informer le public et de connaître son avis sur les questions d’intérêt public.

Cela étant, il convient de faire observer que ces nouvelles formes ne sont utilisées que pour donner des informations sur des questions générales d’intérêt public.

Existe-t-il une stratégie centrale pour permettre la diffusion d’informations sur les services du gouvernement sur Internet (par exemple, existe t-il un portail unique du gouvernement ou de l’Etat, existe t-il des lignes directrices communes pour structurer l’information et savoir quel est le volume d’information que l’on devrait mettre à disposition?)

Du point de vue fonctionnel, il existe un portail central du Premier Ministre (www.primeminister.gr) qui, grâce à des liens, renvoie l’utilisateur aux sites Internet respectifs des ministères. Le site Internet du Ministère de la Presse et des Mass Médias (www.minpress.gr) donne des informations sur les mass médias et offre la possibilité d’en obtenir sur le gouvernement grec. Il contient des liens vers les sites Internet des ministères, journaux, stations de radio et de télévision, agences de presse grecs etc. et donne accès aux bases de données relatives aux communiqués de presse du gouvernement, à la presse grecque, etc. Le site Internet du secrétariat général de l’administration publique du Ministère de l’Intérieur, de l’administration publique et de la décentralisation (www.gspa.gr) donne des informations sur les procédures et les autorités compétentes de l’ensemble de l’administration publique. On peut également y trouver des liens vers les sites Internet des préfectures. Il existe également d’autres portails officiels de l’Etat comme ceux:

- du gouvernement grec:(www.kybersini.gr, www.greecegov.gr, www.hellasgov.gr, www.government.gr)
- de l’administration publique et des citoyens (www.polites.gr)
- du gouvernement électronique (www.egov.gr).

Les citoyens peuvent envoyer des messages et formuler leurs demandes et avis par l’intermédiaire du portail de l’Etat. Conformément aux dispositions de la loi 1599/86, le citoyen a le droit d’avoir accès aux informations du secteur public (principe de la transparence).

Existe-t-il des lignes directrices destinées aux fonctionnaires pour un bon traitement des demandes reçues par courrier électronique?

Les lignes directrices sont décrites dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre du programme opérationnel pour la société de l’information. Ce programme vise à accroître la transparence et à renforcer la participation du public grâce aux nouvelles technologies de l’information. Il convient toutefois de noter que pour le moment, ces nouvelles formes de communication ne sont utilisées que pour donner, sur demande, des informations sur des questions administratives générales (réglementations, procédures, codes, concours).

Il existe également un programme spécial «Asterias» qui a pour but d’aider les citoyens des îles Egée à recevoir des certificats des services publics qui ne sont pas implantés dans leur région.

Les habitants de chaque commune des îles Egée peuvent s’adresser à un employé responsable, remplir une demande numérique et obtenir les certificats qu’ils désirent.
Le même employé peut également leur donner, sans frais, des informations administratives via Internet.

Est-ce que les informations et les services du gouvernement, tels que présentés sur Internet, reflètent les structures administratives ou est-ce qu’ils sont plutôt orientés vers le consommateur dans le sens où ils présentent des informations en provenance de différents services par rapport à des situations de la vie courante (par exemple des sites spéciaux pour les étudiants, les parents, les acheteurs de maisons, etc.)?

Les deux types existent:

- TAXISNET (www.taxisnet.gr) aux fins de la fiscalité via Internet est structuré de manière plus administrative
- le service «l’administration publique et les citoyens» (www.polites.gr) est orientée vers les situations de la vie courante.

L’accent est mis en particulier sur la mise au point d’un système public d’information pour les jeunes comprenant des mesures spéciales à même d’encourager les jeunes à utiliser les nouvelles technologies. Le système offre les services suivants:

- points d’information pour les jeunes
- accès Internet gratuit pour les jeunes, en particulier ceux qui vivent dans des régions reculées
- interconnexion entre des organisations de jeunesse par l’intermédiaire d’Internet.

C. Le Parlement

Est-ce que le parlement agit de manière à permettre au public d’influencer les prises de décision à l’aide des nouveaux services de communication? Comment ceci s’organise-t-il (par exemple, est-ce que des consultations en ligne ont lieu en temps réel ou sur une période plus longue? Comment fait-on la publicité d’une telle consultation? Existe t-il un modérateur ou un facilitateur et quel est son rôle?)

Le Parlement grec a son site Internet officiel (www.parliament.gr) qui offre une vaste gamme de possibilités à l’utilisateur bien que l’on ne puisse pas considérer qu’il donne véritablement au public la possibilité d’influencer directement la prise de décision. Toutefois les possibilités qu’il offre contribuent réellement à la diffusion de l’information sur les questions parlementaires grâce à la transmission en ligne des sessions plénières du Parlement, des informations sur l’ordre du jour de chaque session, des présentations des commissions parlementaires et de leurs conclusions. Il permet aussi au public de communiquer avec chaque député par courrier électronique. D’après de récentes informations officielles, le Parlement grec conçoit actuellement un nouveau site qui offrira d’autres possibilités à l’utilisateur.

Comment les résultats de ces consultations sont-ils utilisés par le Parlement? Avez-vous des exemples?

D. Partis politiques/hommes politiques

Comment les partis politiques et les hommes politiques utilisent-ils les nouvelles technologies de la communication pour atteindre le public, l’impliquer dans des dialogues interactifs et l’inciter à une participation active?

Les partis politiques grecs, en particulier ceux qui sont représentés au Parlement, ont leur propre site Internet (www.pasok.gr, www.nd.gr, www.kke.gr, www.syn.gr) grâce auquel le public peut prendre contact avec eux. Ils utilisent leur site pour donner des informations sur leurs activités politiques. La plupart d’entre eux demandent l’avis du public (vote électronique) sur les grandes questions d’actualité. Il faut ajouter que de nombreux hommes politiques importants ont leur propre site pour donner des informations sur les activités qu’ils consacrent à divers sujets de la vie politique grecque, diffuser des déclarations, des articles, etc. Ils demandent aussi au public de donner son avis et/ou de voter sur les questions politico-sociales du moment.

E. Expression de la volonté publique

Existe-t-il des exemples pratiques ou des projets dans votre pays concernant l’expression d’une volonté politique de la part des individus via Internet (par exemple, des sondages d’opinion, des auditions, des consultations, des référendums ou des votes populaires)?

Les instituts de sondage peuvent effectuer des enquêtes, etc. via Internet. Les principaux portails privés (www.in.gr, www.flash.gr, etc) organisent fréquemment des sondages d’opinion sur plusieurs questions intéressant la société grecque.

F. Média

Comment les médias (radiodiffuseurs de service public, radiodiffuseurs commerciaux, journaux en ligne, etc.) utilisent-ils les nouveaux outils de communication pour engager le public dans une discussion concernant des sujets d’intérêt public?

Le radiodiffuseur de service public – ERT – ainsi que les radiodiffuseurs commerciaux ont leur site Internet officiel. Ils ont aussi de nombreux journaux en ligne. Tous ces médias informent le public grec en Grèce et à l’étranger de l’évolution politique et sociale au niveau national et de la situation au niveau international. Certains essaient d’intéresser le public à des questions d’intérêt public et organisent fréquemment des sondages d’opinion sur des questions relevant de l’actualité nationale et internationale.

JAPAN

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

In Japan, “the IT Strategy Council,” made up of 20 opinion leaders, was established in July 2000 in order to study the issue strategically and intensively by combining private- and public-sector strengths. The council’s purpose is to promote comprehensive measures for the creation of an internationally competitive IT nation in which the benefits of the IT revolution will be shared by all the people of Japan.

“The Basic IT Strategy’’ was compiled by the IT Strategy Council in November 2000, and an “IT Strategic Headquarters” was set up in the Cabinet in January 2001 based on the ‘Basic Law on the Formation of an Advanced Information and Communications Network Society(IT Basic Law)’. The Headquarters drew up ‘the e-Japan Strategy’ under the Basic IT Strategy, as a national strategy to accomplish the ‘IT revolution’. Its purpose was to establish an environment in which the private sector, based on market forces, can exercise its full potential and make Japan one of the world’s most advanced IT nations within five years. The e-Japan strategy in English is available at:
http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/it/network/priority-all/index.html

In March 2001, the IT Strategic Headquarters elaborated on “the e-Japan Priority Plan” which is for the materialization of ‘the e-Japan Strategy’ and clarifies all measures the government should prioritise for rapid implementation to build a society with an advanced information and communications network.

The e-Japan Priority Plan in English is available at:
http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/it/network/priority-all/index.html

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

“The e-Japan Strategy” and “the e-Japan Priority Plan” correspond with general plans of actions in this field.

“The e-Japan Strategy” sets the following four priority policy areas in order to create a society where knowledge is always increasing, and in which everyone can actively utilize information technology(IT) and fully enjoy its benefits.

(1) Establishment of an ultra high-speed internet network infrastructure and policy on competition

(2) Facilitation of electronic commerce

(3) Realization of an electronic government

(4) Nurturing high-quality human resources
Aims to significantly increase the estimated Internet diffusion rate of 60% by 2005

“The e-Japan Priority Plan is for materialization of a society with an advanced information and telecommunications network as described in the “e-Japan Strategy”. It defines the roles of the private and public sectors, and clarifies the concrete goals and deadlines of the following five identified areas in which intensive measures need to be taken

(i) Formation of the world’s most advanced information and telecommunications networks
(ii) Promotion of education and learning as well as development of human resources
(iii) Facilitation of electronic commerce
(iv) Digitization of the administration and application of IT in other public areas
(v) Ensuring security

While promoting measures in the above five areas, there are some crosscutting issues requiring intensive measures, such as (i)promotion of R&D, (ii)narrowing the Digital Divide, (iii)measures for new problems such as a mismatch in employment and (iv)international cooperation and contribution. These measures are to de dealt with activel.

In November 2001, the MPHPT announced a “National Broadband Initiative” and on “e-Government and e-local-autonomies promotion program” based on the E-Japan Priority Plan.

The National Broadband Initiative clearly states a schedule to realize broadband Internet in Japan by FY 2005, the respective roles for the government and the private sector, the prospective number of broadband subscribers and the socials changes expected to be brought about by the deployment of broadband Internet. The MPHPT will actively promote the deployment of broadband Internet infrastructure along the lines of this initiative.

An outline of the National Broadband Initiative in English is available at:
http://www.soumu.go.jp/joho_tsusin/eng/index.html

The e-Government and e-local-autonomies promotion program explains clearly the image of new administrative services to be realized by the e-government and e-local-autonomies and the outline of the schedule of measures to be taken.

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

Japan has already adopted the following laws:

(i) Basic Law on the Formation of an Advanced Information and Communications Network Society
(ii) The IT Comprehensive Law
(iii) Law concerning Electronic Signatures and Certification Services
(iv) Law concerning exceptions to voting methods such as the use of digital voting machines at elections for chief executives and assemblies of local authorities.
(v) Law concerning Exceptions of Civil Code for Electronic Consumer Contracts and Electric Notice of Acceptance.
(vi) The Law on Restrictions on the Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Sender Information

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

-

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

Operations of system on the web (portal site) capable of retrieving web-based information on and from, the ministries and agencies was launched in April 2001. The system is designed so that the public can access electronic information provided by the government in a unified way. Through this portal site such information as laws, administrative procedures and the latest information on policies and statistics is provided.

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

-

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc.)?

Various efforts are being made to improve the way information is provided through the portal site based on opinions from the public, for example, to make it more useful by categorizing information for easy retrieval.

C.D.E.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

A public broadcaster (NHK) and some commercial broadcasters (television and radio stations) make use of the internet (via computers or mobile phones) in their programs to collect ideas or opinions from viewers or listeners, and reflect them their programs.

POLAND

Introduction

Internet in Poland is in the phase of fast development. Lately published surveys suggest that above 20 % of the population (over 15 years old) has access. More than 80 % of those with access are among regular Internet users1. In the business sector, a very rapid progress in the development of access to Internet has been observed (it is estimated that 35% of firms have an Internet access). This process also concerns to public sector, at the government and central as well as local and regional levels.

However, the low density of telephone lines in Poland may become the principal obstacle for continuing that progress. It is common believe in official documents2 that the construction of the physical infrastructure for information technology should be given the highest priority in the strategy of national development. Another problem is the lack of social awareness, knowledge and experience with respect to the possible uses of information technology.

The government understands that its most important task in that area is to create the relevant economic, legal and administrative mechanisms to guarantee general public access to information and to ensure fair competition. In 2000-2001, it prepared a document “A Strategy for the Information Society Development in Poland 2002-2006 – e-Poland”.

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services? Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy? Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

The objective to ensure general public universal and equal access to the new communication and information services falls within the supervision and coordination of the Ministry for Telecommunications. Pursuant to article 54 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, every citizen enjoys the freedom of obtaining information, which as a rule has substantial business, political or cultural value. One of the most important pre-conditions to achieve that task is to speed-up the development of telecommunications infrastructure. Several government documents have defined a strategy for the telecommunications sector3. Because of its universal range, the public telephone network constitutes the most important instrument of accessing information. The most important strategic directions of changes are: deregulation of the market, privatisation of Polish Telecommunications (TPSA), demonopolisation and tax policy. The most important element is the quick progress in the density of the telephone network. Apart from the telephone line, it is expected that the basic service package for new users should include access to computer networks. To ensure the universal public use of the networks, a so-called “cost formula” will become a legal requirement in 2004 (this means in practice that the cost of the same service rendered by a given operator should be the same in all places on the territory of Poland).

The Telecommunications Law of 21 July 2000 (Official Journal No. 73, item 852) has deregulated the telecommunications market. Licenses have been replaced by telecommunications permits, which are required to operate public telephone networks or networks used to broadcast or disseminate radio or television programmes.

Access to the Internet can also be gained through alternative networks and in last years, there has been a growing number of cable-television operators offering access. The density of cable TV in some cities is comparable with that of traditional telecommunications networks. A growing and substantial role in this respect can also be played by GSM operators, whose services are developing very rapidly.

In a country like Poland, the construction of wideband networks is from an economic point of view justifiable as a component of larger infrastructure investments. It is proposed that licenses for the construction of motorways should include parallel construction of fibre-optic cable along the motorways, or in other cases railway lines, pipelines etc. Such opportunities will be used to build supra-institutional infrastructure.

In order to ensure universal access to information on computer networks, a long-term programme of regional development has been developed, the goal of which is to establish centers for public access, which could be located in libraries, schools, cultural centers, museums, local and national administrative offices, job centers, post offices, specialised ministerial institutions (for example. Agricultural Advisory Centers), etc. The programme treats less urbanised areas as a priority. In 2000-2001, a general plan of action in the field of e-government was developed and particular ministries and government agencies are responsible for the realisation of particular aims.

One of the examples is education in information technology – with an aim to prepare Polish society for technological, social and economic changes related to the creation of the Information Society. The co-coordinator is the ministry for education. Some legal regulations were adopted in this respect4. Following these regulation, it is possible to describe the level of competence of primary-school’s students (use a computer, process simple texts and drawings, use various sources of obtaining information, etc.) and junior secondary school (should be able to select, combine and apply various information technology tools in solving typical practical and school problems, to use various dispersed sources of information including multimedia etc.). The problem is how to supply the schools with the relevant equipment (in primary-schools, there are 85 students per computer, in secondary schools – 44). One of the most important programme in this respect is Interkl@sa, which aim was to provide computers and Internet access to all junior secondary schools (end of 2000) and to half primary schools (end of 2001).

In practice, each minister has it own responsibility for a certain part of the general programme. Several acts were adopted last year in respect of e-society, for example the Law on digital signature and digital document, the Law on public access to information and the Personal Data Protection Act.

It is a common believe that the successful implementation of the e-government programme should be treated as an elementary pre-condition for achieving the goals and principles of e-democracy. However, this is a long-term complex of social, political and economical processes.

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)
Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?) Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail? Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc.)?

A number of information technology systems have been completed and implemented in the government administration. Among these are: POLTAX (personal tax, in the Ministry of Finance), PESEL (personal identification system in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration), REGON (firms identification system in the Central Statistic Office), PLUS (to serve unemployed) and POMOST (to serve the welfare system, both in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy) or KSI ZUS (the Comprehensive Information Technology System in the Social Insurance Institution), or system for the Central Board of Customs.

At the end of the 1990s, a very rapid development of government web-pages took place. Almost all ministries and governmental agencies have their own web site, which is linked to general government web site. These sites have a very different quality and even differentiated graphic design as well as navigation tools5. Generally, the dominant part of them was designated for activities such as seeking information, providing information and in limited scope as a tool for communication. Practical experience shows that this last function is underdeveloped.

It is expected that following to the newly adopted Act on access to public information,6 the situation change.

In the current state of affairs, we cannot say that information technologies and new communication services enable the citizens to influence decision-making processes. On-line consultations, which have a clear informal character, are not organised on government sites but rather on commercial ones. However, there are different consultations with representatives of public administration in the form of chat discussions almost every day and the results of some of them are presented in daily newspapers (but on an entirely voluntary basis).

Government information and services on the Internet reflect the administrative structures and in this sense they are not customers-oriented. Much more practical information and advice can be obtained from non-governmental pages and commercial portals.

There is no precise guideline for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail. That procedure is different and reflects particular approaches of the ministries to the problems of e-government in practice. Requests received by e-mail are not treated as official requests.

Lately published results of an international survey7 shows that only 5 % of Polish citizens use the web pages of public institutions, out of which 3% were seeking information and 2% were looking for forms (for example tax forms). No user has declared that any problems were settled n that way.

Different initiatives have been undertaken in order to speed-up access to public information; one of them is an initiative of Citizen’s Internet, which presented the idea to push the administration to publish on the Internet the 10 most requested documents and databases. Among these are:

- The database of the Office for Analysis and Expertise of the Parliament
- The budgets of the ministries and government agencies
- A database with documentation on the votes of parliamentarians in different matters of public interest
- Who is who in Polish administration
- The database of verdicts of the Highest Administrative Court

This initiative is supported by some politicians and members of parliament.

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?) How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

The Polish parliament has created a web site for the general public before the government. This site is among the best ones containing public information. Users can find there many concrete and precise information about parliamentarians, the organisation of parliament, the proposed and voted law and many other information. All members of parliament have their e-mail addresses, but only a few of them are real users of Internet. As a result, it is rare that people try to contact them through new technologies. Most of them never answer to e-mails.
.
Few parliamentarians use new technologies as an additional tool of consultation. Interested citizens have an opportunity to present their point on view on problems which are the subject of a public discussion, but these consultations have only an informal character and are not treated as being representative of any social group.

Some parliamentarians take part in chat discussions, but these are organised by leading portals, not on the parliament pages.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

Almost all political parties have own their web site, which presents their programme, personalities, internal organisation and structures. These pages are also an additional tool of communication with all interested parties and their electorate or supporters.

During the general elections in September 2001, some web sites were intensively exploited by the parties and their supporters. In some cases, the web sites played an important role in organising electoral committees. Such was the case of Citizen’s Platform (Platforma Obywatelska).

Most parties use their web sites as a promotional tool; some try to be more active and use new communication technologies to reach the public and engage with it in an interactive dialogue (mainly on chat discussions) and active participation. Supporters who left their e-mail addresses have access to news services and are invited to party meetings or discussions organised by those parties.
The web sites which belong to the political parties are much more active during general elections.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referanda or popular votes)?

There are many examples concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet. However, they have no any official character. There are no official plans to organise public polls, hearings, consultations, referenda or popular votes. People can freely express their opinion on almost every matter. People are also encouraged to express their will or to comment all headline news but these opinions, because of the current state of Internet users population, are not representative in any sociological sense.

However, there are some examples where new communication technologies have been used to help in undertaking individual political decision. During the general elections, a questionnaire with 20 closed questions about the most important problems discussed by the parties period was published on the most popular portal (Onet.pl). People choosing the answers which were closest to their personal opinion obtained at the end an indication as to which party or programme was the most suitable for them. It is very probable that those less interested in politics gets through that way an important tool for taking rational political decisions.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

Internet is a medium which, to a growing extent, is developing in strong synergy with other mass media. On can observe that interaction between the traditional media, like the print media, radio and television on the one hand, and Internet on the other hand, is of a retroactive character. Internet offers a platform of communication for other media, which exploit Internet in their day-to-day work.

Almost every media outlet has its own web site. The period when those sites were mainly used as a tool for the basic information and promotion of the medium has gone. Web sites are at present an integral part of the editorial policy. The media encourage their audience to use web sites to present their views, to contact the editorial office, to answer questions which are the subject of public debates, etc. Web sites in turn encourage Internet users to use other media for details, promote their content, offers information about most important news, commentaries, etc.

There are no major differences in this context between the public and the commercial media, although one can observe in Poland that commercial media are much better and much more active than the public media on the Internet.

Examples of the best practices in this respect are the commercial television TVN or the radio RMF FM.

ITI Holdings (which is the owner of TVN) acquired dominant shares in the computer and Internet firm Optimus (listed on the stock exchange), and uses Onet.pl, which is the most popular portal and which belongs to Optimus, as an additional platform of communication for TVN. Internet users are encouraged to watch TVN, its news, current affairs and entertainment programmes and at the same time, TVN viewers are encouraged to visit Onet.pl for details or updates on the news, etc.

The commercial radio RMF FM (which has national coverage) has founded its own portal - Interia.pl, which is also listed on the Warsaw stock exchange. This portal is intensively used by the radio in its programming and by RFM’s listeners.

It is clear that the media are forming the best platform or place where new communication tools are used to engage the public in discussion about all matters of public interest. This leads to the conclusion that Internet is not a separate tool of communication, but is an integral part of the system of social communication, which complements other tools of communication and media.

PORTUGAL

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

Yes. The activities and aims of the government in the information society field are to guarantee access for all citizens, including disabled persons, to the new communication and information services and combat “info-exclusion” (exclusion from the information society) and cultural, social and economic disparities.

The action plan Portugal Digital – Iniciativa Internet (Digital Portugal – Internet Scheme) includes a number of activities and measures to extend and enhance the use of the Internet in families, schools, businesses, public sites and the public authorities.

The plan covers seven areas:

1. Acquisition of computers by families8;
2. Use of the Internet by families9;
3. Use of the Internet in public places;
4. Use of the Internet by businesses;
5. Use of the Internet by public authorities and by citizens in their dealings with the State;
6. Structural arrangements for access to and dissemination via the Internet;
7. Training in basic information technology skills.

The main aspects of the plan designed to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services are as follows:

- Extension of the scheme of tax incentives for the purchase of computers and other computer equipment for families, individuals10, schools and non-profit-making associations (scientific, technological, social, educational, cultural and social welfare organisations); seeing to it that teachers and students can buy computers at discounted prices11;

- Measures to boost the supply of integrated service packages (including helpdesks, training, computer hardware, software updates, traffic regulators, Internet, on-line services and technical assistance) by computing companies, telecommunications operators and ISPs;

- Substantial reductions in telecommunications rates. Since February 2001 there has been a system of flat rates in which the maximum prices are set by the national regulatory authority12. For two years now it has been possible to subscribe to Internet access at a flat rate via the Netcabo cable network service. By 2003 there will be a system of minimum access to the Internet that is totally free of charge (Internet and Citizenship project);

- All private and state schools are to be connected to the Internet by the end of 200113;

- Development of adult education and training schemes in the area of information and communication technologies;

- Extension of the Netmovel scheme whereby members of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Youth and Sport travel throughout the country to raise awareness and improve the use of the Internet in schools and among pupils, teachers and families (this experiment began in 2000);

- An ongoing policy of installing Internet access kiosks in public buildings, particularly libraries, post offices and museums14;

- Adaptation of the pages of all government sites to the needs of disabled people15 (compulsory under a Cabinet Resolution);

- Approval of the agreements between the government and welfare associations aimed at combating “info-exclusion” by fostering and supporting minority access to the new communication and information services;

- Creation of public Internet access sites in all the countries’ municipalities: the aim of this programme, which was launched in February 2001, is to establish public sites to familiarise people and bring them into contact with the information technologies and the Internet. To take advantage of the scheme16, local and regional authorities must, for example, install Internet access stations in highly prominent places frequented by a large number of people, with long opening hours and instructors available. They must be suitable for disabled persons and have at least six kiosks providing free Internet access. The plan is to set up public kiosks in every Portuguese freguesia17 by 2003.

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

The government has adopted an action plan entitled Portugal Digital – Iniciativa Internet (Digital Portugal – Internet Scheme), approved by Cabinet Resolution no.110/2000 of 22 August 2000. This is one of the government’s strategic priorities, co-ordinated by the Ministry of Science and Technology and involving the public and private sectors and individuals and organisations (the main features of the plan were described in the previous answer).

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

Yes. Here are the references of the main pieces of legislation18 relating to points A and B:

Cabinet Resolution no. 138/2001 of 30 August 2001
(Creation of a single government portal)

Legislative Decree no.153/2001 of 7 May 2001
(Free supply of computer hardware by the public authorities to educational, social, cultural or scientific establishments)

Legislative Decree no.140/2001 of 24 April 2001
(Creation of a certificate of basic information technology skills)

Cabinet Resolution no.25/2001 of 1 March 2001
(Purchase of computers by public officials)

Cabinet Resolution no. 22/2001 of 27 February 2001
(Regular inspection of the websites of all government agencies and services)

Law no.30-C/2000 of 29 December 2000
(Tax incentives for the purchase of computers and other computer hardware)

Law no.30-G/2000 of 29 December 2000
(Sponsorship for the information society and repayment of the cost of computing equipment)

Cabinet Resolution no.156/2000 of 16 November 2000
(Establishment of the Serviço Público Directo – On-line Public Service – processing requests for official certificates and documents by e-mail)

Cabinet Resolution no.110/2000 of 22 August 2000
(Internet Scheme - Action Plan)

Cabinet Resolution no.114/2000 (Series 2a.) of 18 August 2000
(Setting up of government bodies to deal with the information society. Establishment of the CISI – the Interministerial Committee on the Information Society)

Cabinet Resolution no.97/99 of 26 August 1999
(Disabled access to government sites on the Internet)

Cabinet Resolution no.96/99 of 26 August 1999
(National scheme for disabled citizens in the information society – background document)

Cabinet Resolution no.95/99 of 25 August 1999
(Availability on the Internet of all information published by the public authorities)

Cabinet Resolution no.60/98 of 6 May 1998
(Existence of e-mail in all public services)

Legislative Decree no.135/99 of 22 April 1999
(Rules relating to the activities of public services in respect of citizens)

Law no.127-B/97 of 20 December 1997
(Tax incentives for the purchase of computers and other computer hardware)

Cabinet Resolution no.16/96 of 21 March 1996
(Information Society)

Cabinet Resolution no. 18/91 of 31 May 1991
(Establishment of Infocid – the Portuguese government’s Internet portal)

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (for example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?).

Yes. Some government departments have taken steps to allow and encourage public participation via the Internet. Their web sites are equipped with forums for this purpose. Specific examples are the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry for the Reform of the State and Government.

The good practice guide referred to above also stipulates that public services must have an e-mail address to which users can send questions, suggestions and comments and that this address must be posted on every page of every site.

It is also suggested in the guide that there should be an electronic complaints book where citizens can express their on-line criticisms on the services provided and suggest improvements.

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

Yes. Cabinet Resolution no.95/99 of 25 August 1999 established guidelines on the information to be provided by the government on the Internet. The following year, the action plan Portugal Digital - Iniciativa Internet was adopted under Cabinet Resolution no. 110/2000 of 22 August 2000 (see replies to question A). Part 5 of the plan sets out measures relating to “Internet use by public authorities and citizens in their dealings with the state”. It stipulates that all official forms should be available on the Internet by 2002, that it should be possible to return all filled-in forms electronically by 2003, and that all public services should be available on the Internet by 2005.

The plan also provides for the digitisation and on-line dissemination of all public documents and information, including those held in public libraries, museums, archives, state education, research and training establishments, and the institutions of the national statistics system19.

The following measures have been taken to ensure the dissemination of information on government services on the Internet:

Portals

The single government portal: the site was provided for in Cabinet Resolution no.138/2001 of 30 August 2001 and is currently being set up.

Portal of the Portuguese public authorities: This is the service called Infocid20 (www.infocid.pt), which was launched in 1991 and has been available on the Internet since 1993. Among other things, the portal enables the public to access the government’s on-line services, look up information, take part in the Infocid Forum, request documents, and fill out and send tax returns. Since February 2001, the Serviço Público Directo (On-line Public Service) has also been available on the portal. Through this service citizens can request various official documents such as birth certificates and extracts from trade and housing registers.

Common guidelines

These are published in the Guia de Boas Práticas na Construção de Web Sites da Administração Directa e Indirecta do Estado21 (Guide to good practice in setting up direct and indirect government websites). This sets out recommendations or guidelines that should be followed on all government websites, relating to:

Content; accessibility; surfing; access for the disabled; interaction between services and the citizen; site management; privacy and personal data protection; certification and security; infrastructure.

Regarding the amount of information, the guide stipulates that all websites should provide at least the following information:

- Details of the organisation responsible for the site (aims, activities, services, etc.);
- Means of contacting the organisation (address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.);
- Lists of all the publications and documents published;
- Legislation;
- Planned or current events;
- Financial reports;
- Plan of activities and funding;
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions);
- News;
- Forms for downloading;
- Outline of privacy and security policy.

Home pages should include clear, direct links to all of these items.

All government sites must be regularly inspected to ensure that they comply with the guidelines on good practice and the action plan (Cabinet Resolution no. 22/2001 of 27 February 2001).

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

Cabinet Resolution no.60/98 of 5 May 1998 stipulates that all public services should have e-mail to facilitate contact between the public authorities, the public and organisations.

The guidelines on e-mail set out in the good practice guide are as follows:

- Messages and documents must be well drafted and laid out, clear, concise and written in straightforward language that can be easily understood by all citizens;

- Any request received by e-mail – for example requests for information, suggestions or complaints – must be replied to by a public official within five working days.

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house-buyers, etc.)?

Information services reflect administrative structures.

Nonetheless, the informação ao cidadão (citizen information) service22 on the Infocid portal does centralise key information from various services. Via this site the public can access information and documents on the following subjects: citizenship and family affairs; health; education; youth affairs; civic matters; labour issues; employment and training; social security; tax; the law and the courts; housing; business and the economy; the environment and consumption; culture, sport and tourism; official documents and licences.

C. Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised? (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

The web site of the Portuguese Parliament (the Assembly of the Republic)23 includes a section on “Citizens and Parliament” which sets out ways in which the public can influence Parliament. However, for the time being, citizens can only avail themselves of these rights by means of a written letter:

- The right of petition: This is a universal and free right guaranteed by the Constitution and the law. It entitles citizens to present Parliament with written requests or suggestions in order to defend their rights, the Constitution, the law or the public interest. Any petition signed by more than 4000 citizens must be published in the official parliamentary gazette and examined in plenary session.

- Projects submitted to public debate: When Parliament discusses a matter relating to labour law, the committee concerned is constitutionally and legally bound to submit its proposals to workers’ committees, trade unions and employers’ associations. These may send in suggestions using electronic forms and request that their representatives’ views be heard. The latter requests must be made in writing and sent by letter to Parliament. Such proposals are published in the official parliamentary gazette and announced in the press.

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

Right of petition: Consideration of a petition by the Assembly of the Republic can have various consequences, the most important of which are:

- transmission to the relevant Minister for possible legislative or administrative action;
- referral to the Public Prosecutor, the Criminal Investigation Department or the Ombudsman;
- opening of a parliamentary inquiry;
- tabling, by any Member or Parliamentary Group, of a Bill on the matter in question.

Projects submitted to public debate: The suggestion sent to Parliament may be accepted by Parliament when it is debating or passing laws.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

Some of the sites of political parties invite Internet users to subscribe to newsletters or send questions, suggestions and comments by e-mail.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referenda or popular votes)?

Yes. Here are details of the most important example to date: Some months ago, Lisbon city hall announced its intention to have a lift built right in the historic centre of the city, linking it up with St. George’s castle. The architect’s plans were revealed by the media. This led to a public outcry on the Internet in the course of which thousands of on-line signatures were collected from people opposing the project. The movement had such a major impact that the Mayor of Lisbon was forced to abandon the project.

From time to time other protests circulate on the Internet – usually in relation to local authority projects – but none of these are on the same scale as the above example.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

- The media – particularly the on-line press – regularly publish the findings of small-scale surveys relating to current national and international events in which people are invited to vote on line. The results are published both on the media’s Internet sites and in their paper publications. Some warn the public that the findings are not scientific or representative because their sole aim is to enquire into their readers’ opinions or preferences;

- All the daily newspapers and some radio stations run on-line discussion forums, which do not take place in real time;

- There are some newspapers which are exclusively electronic and make major use of discussion forums.

In February 2001, the government passed a law24 on state aid enabling regional and local media outlets (press and radio) to provide information via the Internet. 85 local newspapers took advantage of this in 2001. State aid for local radio is currently being considered.

RUSSIA

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services? Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy? Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

The Russian approach to e-government and e-democracy is implied in several State documents which have stressed the importance of ICTs for society, political pluralism, civil society and democracy. However, almost all existing legal documents should be described as general goal setting acts. One should mention the Concept of the development of national information space and the State information resources which has stressed the importance of modern telecommunications for the development of Russian society. The State has underlined the importance of the information security, but has left aside problems of information equality, universal access for telecommunications and fair competition. The Concept of the State Information Policy approved by the State, the Russian Parliament and the President has put together the development of the telecommunications infrastructure and mass media, information resources and the home computerisation. The document has also introduced the establishment of the Information Society as a major and perspective goal of the national development, but has not yet adopted the idea of universal and equal access to ICTs. The Concept of Building the Information Society in Russia (May 1999) should also be mentioned among the most important documents. The paper has been adopted by the Ministry of Telecommunication and Informatisation. The document has introduced the idea of access to ICT as the key point in the promotion of the Information Society in Russia. However, realising that today Russia has to overcome economic problems of the post-Socialism economy, the Concept has underlined that provision of universal access to ICTs is a too ambitious and unrealistic goal, so that Russia has to define its priorities for a short term period. Access should be given first of all to young people (students, school children) and teachers at all levels (secondary schools, Universities). The Concept has also introduced the objective of e-government to ensure the better communication of the executive power and citizens.

The idea of providing educational field and administration with access to modern ICTs is laid down in the two most profound documents which have been adopted during the summer 2001. These are the Federal Programmes on “Electronic Russia in years 2002–2010” and “The Development of the Unified Information and Educational Space in 2001 – 2005”. Both documents are ‘packaged’ together with a view to updating national priorities in education and informatisation. The documents reflect some new understanding of the key role of infocommunications in developing Russian civil society, promoting a power-citizen dialogue and increasing the effectiveness of education. The “Electronic Russia” might be considered a document which stands closest to the idea of e-government. Again, the priority in providing access to ICTs is given to younger generations and teachers.

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)
Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?) Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?
Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc.)?

Almost all Russian Ministries (23 of existing 24) have their sites on the Internet. The Russian government opened its site in December 1999 (http://www.government.gov.ru) However, Ministerial sites are non-interactive and for many of them the most acute problem is the low frequency of updating information. Only 6 sites of Ministries provide the users with possibilities of on-line conferences. In order to implement the ‘Electronic Russia’ programme in 2002-2010, the Government and Ministries are planning to open access to specialised databases, especially statistics, and to introduce electronic documents in everyday practice of state and municipal officials. There are no specific guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail. However, there are general provisions in the above-mentioned documents requiring responds to such letters.

C. The Parliament
D. Political parties / politicians

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?) How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?
How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

Like the government, the Parliament and political parties are present on the Internet and the sites are numerous.

E. Expression of public will

No practice and legal documents for the regulation of such issues and conditions exist.

F. Media

Russian media began to explore the Internet in 1994 when the first experiments were started by several popular newspapers like the “Nezavisimaja Gazeta”. In two years, the number of Internet publications increased to 300 and in 1997, there existed already 800 on-line media outlets. The most popular on-line sources today are Rosbusinesskonsulting, Gazeta.ru, List.ru, Lenta.ru, Polit.ru. By the year 2000, Runet contains almost infinite content resources in Russian language. There are about 50 TV companies, 60 radio sites, 33 Internet news agencies and almost 1200 newspapers, of which 70% represent the Internet versions of paper publications and the rest are sheer Internet papers. On-line media differ from other Internet resources by several points, including the constant updating of information.

An active role of the Internet news media during Parliamentary (1999) and Presidential (2000) elections was especially important for the media. Several sites run by the Fond Effectivnoi Politiki (The Foundation for the Effective Politics) played a crucial propagandistic role in creating public images of leading political parties and politicians. By releasing compromising materials about some well-known politicians, Russian political image-makers appealed directly to those form the public opinion – journalists, party activists. Thus, the Internet served as a mediator between the political power, which realised the potential of the new media, and an important but limited part of the Russian society. An apparent PR-function of the Russian Internet was ensured by its still non-open nature which put the Net into the use of only well-paid, well-educated Russians who mostly shaped the decision-making elite. However, quotations and citing from on-line sites made by the traditional media during election campaigns safeguarded an enormous popularity to the Net, thus illustrating the reasons for the growth during the summer 2000.

As for new potentials for democratisation, the Russian media still do not contribute much to the process. On-line discussions are common practice, but they are usually not concerned with questions of public significance. Some on-line newspapers and TV companies discuss with their users problems of political and social life, but the Internet is mostly used as a tool of marketing and improvement of advertising strategies.

SWITZERLAND

A. General policy on e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

- In a 1998 document outlining its strategy for an information society in Switzerland, the Federal Council (government) described equitable access for all to the new information and communication technologies (NICTs) as one of its four basic principles in this field. The first steps have been taken to ensure access nationally, with the education field benefiting in particular through the “Internet in school” project, which targets Swiss primary and secondary schools, further education and vocational training colleges.

- Other projects are under preparation. The theme is currently being discussed by a federal government working group on “Access for all”.

- In early 2001, a consortium of Swiss interests in the computer and telecommunications sector launched the “Initiative CH21”. This programme, which it is planned will run for two years, aims to encourage access by bringing together activities and action plans promoting the information society. It involves a number of working groups, some of which are focusing on the question of Internet access for underprivileged social groups.

- In 2001, the Federal Office for Communications (OFCOM) and the Federal Office of Culture (OFC) collaborated on setting up the “Comknight” (“Chevalier de la communication”) prize, which will be awarded to people who have made an outstanding contribution to bridging the digital divide. The prize was due to be awarded for the first time in November 2001.

- In November 2001, the Federal Council made changes to the rules governing the universal service obligation. As of 1 January 2003, every Swiss resident will have the opportunity, at a fixed price, of installing a digital (ISDN) as well as an analogue connection.

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

e-government

During the autumn 2001, the Federal Computer Strategy Unit presented the Federal Council with concrete proposals in the form of a draft strategy for e-government. The Federal Council will probably consider this paper in December 2001.

The draft strategy revolves around the following three objectives:

1. to create the necessary conditions for reliable, high-quality co-operation both among different federal departments and between federal departments and regional (cantonal) and local authorities;

2. to continue developing electronic co-operation between the State, private social and economic agencies and public-law bodies;

3. to encourage projects set up to co-ordinate central, regional and local government activities with those run by the private sector and civil society.

e-democracy

The first Swiss experiments and test-runs involving e-democracy were organised by the cantons. In 2001, the canton of Geneva ran the first pilots of an electronic voting scheme for use in referenda and elections. Other pilot projects in which the Confederation too is taking an active part (an electronic voting register and electronic voting on popular initiatives and referenda) are being set up in the cantons of Zurich and Neuchâtel. It is planned to make e-democracy operational at the national level in 2005 (see below).

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

In September 2001, the Federal Council launched a consultation process with federal departments on a report on the future, hazards and workability of e-democracy. It is expected that preliminary proposals for legislative changes will be produced for discussion by 2004. The results of this consultation process and the relevant explanatory memorandum would then be presented to the two Federal chambers in 2005.

B. Administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised? (For example, do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

Swiss Internet users were first consulted about the strategy for e-government through a forum organised in the autumn 2001 (cf http://www.isb.admin.ch/egov/index.htm).The principal information channel for the public as a whole was the print press.

In the case of draft legislation or implementing regulations, it is quite normal for electronic means to be employed for consultation within departments, interest groups and political parties. The Internet is often used to present ongoing projects.

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? For example, is there a single government or even State portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

Work has been under way on a government Web portal, or “Guichet virtuel”, for the past year. At first, the portal will provide information about the Confederation, the cantons and local authorities and answer practical everyday concerns. It is planned to set up a portal for communication and administrative transactions later.

The portal will be operational as from early 2002 on an experimental basis. Its expansion and preparation for use will begin towards the end of 2002 (cf http://e-gov.admin.ch/).

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

No.

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc)?

Both types exist. The “virtual portal” referred to above is more concerned with providing responses to “life situations” through links to Federal, regional and local institutions. Other sites are field-specific and generally reflect administrative structures.

C. Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised? (For example, do on-line consultations take place in real time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

This possibility does not exist as yet.

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

NA.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

At the national level, all political parties have their own Web sites.

At least one e-mail address is given for most members of the Federal Parliament (National Council and Council of States) on the government or Parliament Web site (cf http://www.parlament.ch).

In 2001, the Free Democratic Party of Switzerland (FDP) was the first party to provide on-line access to a party meeting.

Parliamentary sessions can be followed on-line, although Internet users have no means of participating.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referenda or popular votes)?

In 2001, for the first time, the canton of Geneva made arrangements for electronic voting alongside traditional voting methods (cf http://www.geneve.ch/chancellerie/conseil/1997-2001/communique/2000/chan010322.html).

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

Both the print press and the on-line press sometimes offer electronic fora through which the readers can comment on published articles. The media have also been known to organise polls on specific topics.

TURKEY

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

Turkey has shown her commitment on the e-Europe initiative. Within this framework Turkey has put into practice a national plan which is called e-Turkey and aims co-operation among different actors of society in order to develop the Information Society. Meanwhile the leading ministries such as the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Transportation and other relevant Ministries along with some local administrations and universities are carrying on their project and studies on this issue. The main challenge is to create efficient cooperation and reorganisation of the tasks and functions of the institutions to take necessary steps forward for ensuring universal and equal access of the citizens to the new communication and information services. At this very point, the Prime Ministry’s role is very important as a co-ordinating body that will motivate and bring together the relevant State organisations as regards the implementation of the national master plan covering e-government and e-democracy.

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

In the context of the e-Turkey initiative, in October 2001, the Prime Ministry adopted an action plan with the participation of relevant public administrations, institutions and NGOs, that designated national objects and formed sub-committees to carry out studies.

www.basbakanlik.gov.tr - web site of Prime Ministry (Turkish and English)

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

Studies have been committed on this question.

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

In this regard it must not be forgotten that without well-established universal access, any mechanism put into practice by ministries and government agencies to enable citizens to influence decision-making process would not be effective. Moving from this point, the introduction of the public administration to the Information Society will be within the context of the e-Turkey Project.

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

Prime Ministry’s web site is the main State portal through which one can access nearly to all public web sites using its links. Besides, every public administration is responsible for creating its own portal.

www.basbakanlik.gov.tr - web site of Prime Ministry (Turkish and English)

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

Each public administration or institution gives its own web site services.

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to “life situations” (for example special sites for students, parents, house buyers etc.)?

Government information and services on the Internet present a variety of information in accordance with the structure and function of the public bodies concerned. Some of them present information only in accordance with administrative structures on their web sites such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs while others provide customer-oriented services such as the Directorate of Istanbul Security regarding on-line passport application and the Student Selection and Placement Centre for all applications of students.

www.mfa.gov.tr - web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Turkish and English)
www.iem.gov.tr/ilksayfa.htm - web site of the Directorate of İstanbul Security
www.osym.gov.tr - web site of the Student Selection and Placement Centre.

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in realtime or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

For the time being, no mechanism has been put into place by the Turkish Parliament to enable the public to influence the decision-making process with the help of the new communication services. However, all members of Parliament have their own e-mail addresses available on the web site of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

www.tbmm.gov.tr – web site of the Turkish Grand National Assembly

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

Not available.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

All the political parties have their own web sites which cover general information about their political programmes, history, actions taken by them, members and recent events. Presently, few web sites of political parties have offered interactive services for the public to participate in political affairs, however more or less all parties are building their own web sites that will enable interactive dialogue and active participation.

- web sites of some of the major political parties:

www.anap.org.tr
www.dsp.org.tr
www.dyp.org.tr
www.mhp.org.tr

Generally speaking, most politicians believe in the importance of new technologies to communicate and to develop active participation of the public. That is why the majority of politicians have their own e-mail addresses.

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referenda or popular votes)?

Some local government, for example Bursa Greater Municipality has put into practice on-line referenda about projects which could affect the life of citizens. Central government has not undertaken any initiative on this matter yet, whereas on the other hand, in the context of the e-Turkey Project, the expression of public will via the Internet is targeted.

www.bursa-bld.gov.tr - web site of Bursa Greater Municipality.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

Media, in particular on-line newspapers, most of the commercial broadcasters and the public broadcaster, TRT, use the new communication tools very effectively to engage the public in discussion about nearly all matters such as economy, political issues, and events of public interest.

- web sites of some of the main news portals:

www.ntvmsnbs.com
www.haber.gen.tr
www.btnet.com.tr
www.internethaber.com

However, although it is very new in Turkey, it should be noted that some digital commercial platforms have employed public polls by means of their EPG facilities. These public polls can be considered as new tools in the measurement of public opinion as far as the democratic and social implications of the new media are concerned.

UNITED KINGDOM

A. General policy of e-government and e-democracy

Have steps been taken to ensure universal and equal access to the new communication and information services?

Inclusive access to the Internet is a fundamental issue for e-democracy. If the Internet is to become a serious tool for people to use to participate in the democratic process, it is vital that everyone who wants to, irrespective of age, gender, occupation, income, or geographical location, has access to it and the skills and confidence to use it.

As part of UK online, the Government’s policy is therefore to ensure that by 2005 everyone who wants it has access to the Internet, and the skills and confidence to use it. To ensure this, the government is working with industry, the voluntary sector, trades unions and consumer groups to implement a package of measures to improve access to the Internet at home, at work and in the community. In particular, the government is committed to setting up 6000 UK online centres providing community-based access to the Internet by the end of 2002. Another key component of the government’s strategy is to develop Internet access through Interactive Digital Television, enabling people to use their TV in a similar way to a computer connected to the Internet.

Has your country adopted a general plan of action in the field of e-government or e-democracy?

In the beginning of 2000, the Prime Minister launched a new campaign, UK online, to get people, businesses and government online with the following three core objectives:

- to make the UK the best environment in the world for e-commerce by 2002;
- to ensure that everyone who wants it has access to the Internet by 2005; and
- to make all government services available electronically by 200525.

The target to make all government services available electronically by 2005 acknowledges that people will expect to be able to interact electronically with the organisations they deal with. Therefore, joined-up services that reflect people’s needs are necessary. But e-government is not simply about efficient service delivery - citizens are entitled to expect the democratic process to be modernised in an equivalent way.

In response, the Prime Minister has set up a ministerial committee on e-democracy. Its terms of reference are:

- to consider ways of strengthening the democratic process by engaging the public and their elected representatives through the use of the Internet and other electronic means.

The Office of the e-Envoy (OeE) and Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions have taken the lead in developing and implementing an e-democracy policy within central government. OeE will provide guidelines, promote best practices and monitor progress. OeE will also lead on the development of technical standards required to support e-voting.

In a written answer on 22 October 2000, the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, Christopher Leslie, informed the House that officials at OeE and DTLR are working on proposals for a policy for e-democracy.

Has any legislation been adopted in this respect or are there any plans to do so?

Legislation is in place to permit the piloting of e-voting systems in local elections. Further legislation will be required to allow e-voting in a general election.

B. The administration

Do ministries and government agencies enable citizens to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real-time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

The Code of Practice on Written Consultation26 sets out criteria for consultations that are binding on central government departments. One of the criteria it sets out is to make consultation documents available online:

Documents should be made widely available, with the fullest use of electronic means (though not to the exclusion of others), and effectively drawn to the attention of all interested groups and individuals.

This criterion is explained by more specific terms such as:

- Documents should always be available free of charge on a website from the moment of publication, ideally in a range of formats. Internet versions should be quickly downloadable – that is, for example, with the option of avoiding large graphics. It may not be practical to include complex attachments (such as large charts), though early planning will often permit the information in them to be presented satisfactorily on the web.

- Though effective use of the Internet is increasingly important, people should not be excluded from consultation because they are not Internet users. Paper copies of documents should always be available, and paper responses accepted.

- Costs to users should never be such that they are an obstacle to effective consultation. Every effort should be made to avoid charging for paper copies.

- The methods above will often not effectively reach all interested groups. Other methods should be considered including e.g. targeting relevant newspapers and magazines, targeted mailings and e-mail notifications, reproducing the document in different languages and formats (e.g. Braille, audio tape), face-to-face visits, presentation and discussion of the proposals with interested organisations, stakeholder groups, user panels etc., funding outreach activity by umbrella groups or independent facilitators.

Is there a central strategy to enable the dissemination of information about government services on the Internet? (For example, is there a single government or even state portal, are there any common guidelines on how to structure information and how much information should be made available?)

From December 2000, citizens have been able to access all government information through a user-friendly citizen’s portal27. All new statutes and statutory instruments are published on the Internet. The government’s principal websites make available press releases, speeches by government leaders, official documents (submissions to Parliament etc.), all enacted laws and regulations, proposed laws and regulations under consideration and transcripts of parliamentary debates. All this work builds upon the Prime Minister’s 2000 announcement that, by 2005, 100% of dealings with government should be capable of being done electronically by the public. Progress towards this target is published on www.e-envoy.gov.uk.

It is the government’s view that new technologies can play a role in providing new ways for people to access government information. Access to reliable, clear and comprehensive information is a precondition for being an active citizen and to participate in the government’s policy process. New technologies can be used to facilitate access to public information and information about future and existing policies and services. There are already policies in place to promote this, such as web site standards and the e-government metadata framework.

The development of government executive agencies run on cost recovery lines has reinforced the tendency to make information available in a number of ways, both commercially and non-commercially. The level of charging depends on the type of material and the degree to which it is being sold for commercial re-use. The majority of information posted on government websites is free. Information that has been traditionally charged for and is now available electronically may still require payment.

Are there guidelines for officials on how to handle requests received by e-mail?

In central government e-mail is dealt with, on the whole, as any other form of correspondence.

Do government information and services on the Internet reflect administrative structures or are they more customer-orientated in the sense that they present cross-service information according to "life situations" (for example special sites for students, parents, housebuyers etc.)?

UKOnline Citizen Portal and Gateway

The Citizens Portal went live on 4th December 2000, and was formally launched on 19th February 2001. There are currently nine life episodes:

- Moving Home
- Having a Baby
- Going Away
- Dealing with Crime
- Learning to Drive
- Death and Bereavement
- Getting a Job
- Looking after someone
- Pensions and Retirement

To enable joined-up e-services, standards for interoperability of information systems have been issued and are being progressively applied. They use Internet standards that have been widely adopted by industry.

The UK now has in place the most advanced e-government infrastructure in the world. The first stage of the Government Gateway (www.gateway.gov.uk) was completed, on time, on scope and on budget in January 2001. Registration, enrolment and transaction handling are fully operational. The services presently available are:

- Infosec Assurance and Certification Servicecs (IACS) Area Aid Application from the -Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
- Pay as you earn (PAYE) from Inland Revenue (IR) (including year end submissions)
- Self-Assessment from IR
- VAT returns from Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (HMC&E)

The Gateway will make it much easier and more efficient for citizens and businesses to use online public services.

C. The Parliament

Does Parliament operate in a manner which allows the public to influence decision-making with the help of the new communication services? How is such input organised (For example do on-line consultations take place in real-time or over a longer period? How is such consultation advertised? Is there a moderator or facilitator and what is his or her role?)

The Commons Information Office deals with questions from the public about the history, membership and business of the House of Commons via e-mail, and it is possible to e-mail some MPs through their website.

Beyond this, online consultation is being explored in experimental form only. For an example, please see: http://www.parliament.uk/post/pn153.pdf.

How are the results of the input used by Parliament? Are there any examples?

Evidence online to the All-Party Domestic Violence Group28.

At the UK parliamentary level, pilot online consultations, organised for parliamentary committees by the Hansard Society, have been successful innovations. Most recently, the House of Lords has collected public evidence online on the issue of stem cell research. In March 2000 the Hansard Society’s e-democracy programme ran an online consultation in which women survivors of domestic violence gave evidence online to the All-Party Domestic Violence Group. In just one month almost 1000 messages of evidence were received by the MPs, from a group of women who had not previously given evidence to parliament and would have faced considerable security risks in coming to London to give evidence for a day, let alone a month. 94% of the participants reported that the consultation was a worthwhile exercise.

D. Political parties/politicians

How are political parties and politicians using new communication technologies to reach the public and engage it in interactive dialogues and active participation?

Examples of guidelines for MPs to encourage the use of online communication technology to establish a dialogue with their constituencies through websites and e-mail have been published. Details can be found at:

http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/cyberodyssey.pdf
http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/MPWEB.pdf
http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/HansardStrategicGuide.pdf

E. Expression of public will

Are there any practical examples or plans in your country concerning the expression of political will by individuals via the Internet (e.g. public polls, hearings, consultations, referanda or popular votes)?

Citizen Space
When designing the UK's new government portal, ukonline.gov.uk, it was decided from the outset that it should have a space for citizen-to-government and citizen-to-citizen interaction. This was called Citizen Space and the main purposes of this feature were:

- to provide a gateway to government consultations
- to facilitate public discussion of policy issues
- to offer useful political and civic information that can help citizens navigate through different government services
- to create a space for e-democracy

Citizen Space is currently divided into two parts: one provides public information (Know How) and the other is a gateway to consultation and discussion (Say So). The Know How section is an embryonic facility for democracy-related information, such as the name of one’s MP, how to make a complaint and voter information. The Say So section provides an index of all government consultations (associated with the Code of Practice on Written Consultation) and a discussion forum. The latter is currently the most used part of Citizen Space, with over 20,000 messages posted since its launch.

Citizen Space is potentially a key resource for citizens’ interaction with government and with one another. Once fully developed, it could constitute a showcase for e-democracy in action. Citizen Space is experimental at the moment and many valuable lessons have been learned from its operation. Over the coming months it is hoped to radically redevelop the site and expand its facilities which could include, for example:

- the creation of much better opportunities for citizens to take part in consultations and policy discussions, with, potentially, four levels of participation;

- a major expansion of the information section, to include a comprehensive resource for adult civic education;

- closer and better connections with all levels of representative institutions, including local authorities, Westminster and the devolved parliament and the assemblies, as well as the European Parliament;

- opportunities for citizens to sign-up to be informed about upcoming policy issues, debates and events.

F. Media

How do the media (public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, on-line newspapers etc.) use the new communication tools to engage the public in discussion about matters of public interest?

The use of new communication tools to engage the public in discussion is widespread in our media. Many on-line newspapers have chat-rooms and public fora to debate current issues and long-term trends. The BBC website, BBCi, has interactivity at its core, with regular talking points, votes, chat-rooms and over 300 local and national message boards. These debate topics such as news and current events, politics, cultural issues and regional and local issues. Commercial broadcasters also pay great attention to involving the public wherever possible.


1 Tyler Nylsen Sofres OBOP, October, 2001

2 „Aims and directions of the information society development in Poland” by the State Committee for Scientific Research and Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications

3 „Telecommunications development policy” (adopted by the Council of Ministers on 28th May 1996); „Outline strategy of the telecommunications market development for 1998 – 2001” (adopted by the Council of Ministers on 25th August, 1998)

4 „The National Education Programme For the Information Society” and Anex 1 to the regulation of the Minister of National Education of 15th February 1999 (Official Journal No 14, item 19)

5 Http:// www.kprm.gov.pl

6 Act about access to public information from 6th September 2001 (Official Journal No. 112, item 1198 form 2001)

7 „The Government Online”, in Poland by Taylor Nylsen Sofres OBOP, November, 2001

8 Aim: 50% of households to have a computer by 2003.

9 Aim: 50% of the population to have Internet access by 2003.

10 The measure has been in force since 1998. 180,000 people took advantage of it in 1998 and 1999 and it was applied to 116,420 families in 2000.

11 Aim: all university lecturers and students should have a personal computer by 2003 and all secondary school teachers and pupils by 2004.

12 Site available in English: http://www.icp.pt/indexuk.asp.

13 In July 2001, 8874 schools had already been connected to the Internet.

14 About 800 kiosks have already been set up to date, mainly in post offices.

15 The Ministry of Science and Technology runs an access unit and a specific site on the access of disabled persons to the information society (www.acesso.mct.pt).

16 80% funded by central government.

17 There are 4,500 freguesias (the smallest administrative subdivision in Portugal, equivalent to parishes).

18 Full texts are available in Portuguese on http://www.mct.pt/novo/legislacao/acl.htm.

19 Certain documents have already been digitised and been made available on-line.

20 Accessible for example at the kiosks set up in Portugal’s main public buildings.

21 Prepared by the Executive Secretary of the Interministerial Committee on the Information Society, and available in Portuguese on http://www.cisi.mct.pt/ficheiros/ficheiros/concurso/conc007.pdf

22 http://www.infocid.pt/infocid.htm

23 Available in French on http://www.parlamento.pt/francais/index.html and in English on http://www.parlamento.pt/english/index.html

24 Legislative Decree no.56/2001 of 19 February 2001.

25 UK online is not about replacing traditional, face-to-face services. UK online offers people a choice – a new way of handling businesses and gaining access to information and services quickly and easily, when and where it's convenient for people.

26 www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/servicefirst/index/consultation.htm

27 http://www.ukonline.gov.uk

28 http://www.democracyforum.org.uk