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Internet democracy

From Academic Kids

Internet democracy is a derivative term for e-democracy (electronic democracy), especially related to projects and concepts centered on using the Internet (and not other electronic communications technologies like short message services or teletext) for deliberative and participatory aims. Concrete implementations of Internet democracy projects include electronic town hall meetings or citizen consultations, the use of discussion boards on party or candidate websites and the virtualization of traditional political institutions or mechanisms like party conventions, protest marches or petitions.

While some see Internet democracy in its different flavors as the next step towards "real democracy," and as the tool that finally helps to eliminate the distance constraints in direct democracy and increase the degree of interaction between politicians and the public, others compare it with similar hypes which came with every new medium, especially radio broadcasting (Bertolt Brecht's utopia), cable television (teledemocracy) and VCRs.

Contents

Important qualities of the Internet

There are important differences between previous communication media and the Internet that are relevant to the political usage of the Internet.

Most importantly the Internet is a many-to-many communication medium where radio/television (few-to-many) and telephones (few-to-few) are not. Also, the Internet has a much greater computational capacity allowing strong encryption and databasing (important in community information access/sharing, deliberative democracy and electoral fraud prevention). Further, people use the Internet to collaborate or meet in an asynchronous manner—that is, they don't have to be physically gathered at the same moment to get things accomplished. Due to all these factors, the Internet has the potential to take over certain traditional media of political communication such as the telephone, the TV, newspapers and the radio.

Other meanings

Internet democracy is also used in reference to:

  • Self-regulation of the Internet and the development of its constituent technologies through "rough consensus and running code," RFCs and expert boards.
  • Participation of Internet users worldwide in non-governmental bodies that are setting Internet policy, to advocate that these bodies adhere to principles of open participation, public accountability and human rights.

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