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CONSULTATION ON IMPLICATIONS OF ONLINE CAMPAIGNS

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The Electoral Commission has launched a consultation on the implications of using online technologies in election c...
The Electoral Commission has launched a consultation on the implications of using online technologies in election campaigns. Responding to concerns that online campaigning is at present largely unrestricted, it will look at ways of protecting the interests of voters while maximising the potential of the internet and other electronic technologies to provide benefits for political communication.

Responses to a discussion document published by The Electoral Commission in March 2002, have informed the issues and questions raised in today's document. In particular, it will look at issues of transparency and accountability, while also seeking to ensure full and equal access to information for electors and a platform for free speech for campaigners.

The consultation will also examine ways of ensuring that there is broad consistency in the way in which online and more traditional campaign activities are conducted. For example, the paper asks whether all online campaign material, including web pages, emails and text messages, should carry an imprint which makes it clear who is responsible for issuing the material, bringing it in line with guidelines for printed election material.

Electoral commissioner Karamjit Singh said: 'The internet and other online communication technologies will increasingly play a significant role in helping campaigners to communicate with voters. We welcome opportunities to provide voters with more information, but we need to establish whether these new technologies raise concerns about the use of online campaign material.' The full consultation paper can be viewed on the Commission's website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk

Submissions to The Electoral Commission must be received no later than Tuesday 5 November 2002. The Electoral Commission will submit its recommendations to the Government and publish a final report outlining the recommendations in detail in 2003.

These reviews form part of a series of policy reviews being carried out by the Commission, following publication of its report, 'General election 2001: the official results'.

Notes:

1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body established by parliament. It aims to ensure public confidence and participation in the democratic process within the United Kingdom through modernisation of the electoral process, promotion of public awareness of electoral matters, and regulation of political parties.

2. Any submissions on the issues covered by this paper should be sent to Tom Hawthorn, Assistant Electoral Policy Manager, The Electoral Commission, Trevelyan House, 30 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2HW or email thawthorn@electoralcommission.org.uk

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