Today, the Internet has established itself as a new mass medium. But although it is a medium that originated in political and military spheres such as the Pentagon, it has until now inspired very little academic self-reflection concerning the political context of its structure and development. It is almost exclusively the economic potential of the Internet that dominates interest in the new technology. After a very short period of time, the keyword "New Economy" is linked to a variety of economic hopes, while the more traditional term "information society" still seems to be rather obscure, still awaiting further specification.
But throughout history, the process of forming a political opinion has always been influenced by the communication technologies that were available. The modern "media democracy" of the last two decades has been fundamentally determined by the expansion of commercial broadcasting. Today’s Net communication stands out because of its low distribution costs, high information density and a high degree of interactivity and connectivity. Given this background, the Internet has outstanding potential for the further democratization of the political sphere. This becomes evident when looking at citizen’s action groups who increasingly use the Internet to coordinate their political initiatives. The number of experiments with elections on the Net is growing as are initiatives to increase the transparency, efficiency and the "user friendliness" of government agencies by using these new communication technologies.
But what exactly are the possibilities of using the Internet to support political activities in the information society? Where in particular do the democratic potentials of the new communication technologies lie? Are we really heading towards a cyber democracy, the vision of the "electronic agora"? Or is the so called electronic democracy merely a complimentary phenomenon which will have little effect on the basic forms and structures of the conventional formation of a political will? Where can we identify the dangers of electronic democracy and administration, particularly when it comes to manipulation and control by governments and political elites? And how can the standards of data protection and authenticity be guaranteed?
The two-day conference is intended to find answers to these questions and inspire new ideas. In particular, the envisaged aim will be a pragmatic analysis of how new technology can be used to foster a better mediation between state and citizens and among citizens themselves. This analysis will also extend to how the efficiency of public administration can be increased. In the course of the conference, the subject shall be addressed from a technical, political and legal perspective.
The event will be opened with an introduction by Germany’s Minister of Justice, Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin, who will emphasize the significance of the electronic democracy for the nation state. An opening keynote on the eEurope initiative will follow, presented by Mr. Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for the information society (asked). Afterwards, four different panels will focus on particular issues related to E-Democracy: Chances and risks of the Internet for a democratic society (panel 1), online voting (panel 2), civic exchange in cyberspace (panel 3) and electronic government (panel 4). The conference will conclude with a closing keynote by Prof. Dr. Benjamin Barber of the Walt Whitman Center at Rutgers University.
Introduction: Gabriele Behler, Minister for Schools and Research, North Rhine-Westphalia
Opening Keynote: Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner, Brussels
Panel 1 - The Use of the Internet in a Democratic Society - Potential and Risks
Siegmar Mosdorf, Secretary of State, Berlin
Prof. Dr. John Keane, University of Westminster
Andrew Blau, New York
Ingrid Scheithauer, Frankfurter Rundschau (Chair)
Panel 2 - Online Voting
Prof. Dr. Joachim Wieland, University of Bielefeld
Dr. Rüdiger Grimm, GMD, Darmstadt
Prof. Dr. Dieter Otten, University of Osnabrück
Dr. Julia Glidden, Election.com
Dr. Marcel Machill, Bertelsmann Foundation
Prof. Dr. Miriam Meckel, University of Münster (Chair)
Panel 3 - Civic Exchange in Cyberspace
Jörg Tauss, Member of Parliament, Berlin
Dr. Beth Simone Noveck, Yale Law School
Dr. Christoph Bieber, University of Gießen
Jens Walthermann, Solon Management Consulting, Munich
Richard Stubbs, UK Citizens Online Democracy
Steven L. Clift, Minnesota E-Democracy
Andreas Grünwald, ITM, Münster (Chair)
Panel 4 - Electronic Government
Ian White, Cabinet Office U.K., London
Prof. Dr. Ignace Snellen, Erasmus University of Rotterdam
Prof. Dr. Herbert Kubicek, University of Bremen
Bettina Sokol, State Data Protection Authority, Düsseldorf
Stefaan Verhulst, PCMLP, University of Oxford (Chair)
Closing Keynote: Prof. Dr. Benjamin Barber, Ruttgers University
Ludger Ahrens-Beck (Köln), Steffen Albrecht (Hamburg), Moisès Amorós Perich (Barcelona), Benjamin Barber (New Brunswick, NJ), Ralf Bartoleit (Frankfurt am Main), Dietrich Beese (München), Markus Behr (Paris), Gunnar Bender (Hamburg), Christoph Bieber (Gießen), Wouters Biesterbos (Den Haag), Andrew Blau (Brooklyn, NY), Ruth Blufarb (Münster), Horst Blume (Bonn), Thomas Braune (Berlin), Michael Brinkmeister (Gütersloh), Stephan Bröchler (Hagen), Bernhard Bubeck (Stuttgart), Reiner Burger (Frankfurt am Main), Herbert Burkert (Köln), Angela Busche (Münster), Brian Clarke (Cardiff), Steven Clift (Minneapolis, MN), Marc Droog (Utrecht), Martin Eifert (Hamburg), Martin Emmer (Ilmenau), Karl-Josef Errens (Leverkusen), Ellen Fahsal (Münster), Edwin Feldner (Berlin), Arno Fiedler (Berlin), Olaf Fink (Hamburg), Dominik Fischer (Münster), Christian Flügge (Münster), Thomas Friemel (Hamburg), Mirjam Gehrke (Köln), Maria Gilles (Leverkusen), Hermann Glaab (Wiesbaden), Julia Glidden (Garden City, NY), Jörg Glücks (Potsdam), Edgar Göll (Berlin), Rüdiger Grimm (Ilmenau), Thomas Groß (Gießen), Andreas Grünwald (Münster), Martin Hagen (Bremen), Kathrin Hahne (Münster), Anika Hanßmann (Münster), Volker Heitkamp (Berlin), Claudia Hermes (Berlin), Frank Hölscher (Bielefeld), Michael Hokkeler (Gelsenkirchen), Jens Holste (Osnabrück), Norbert Ingler (Düsseldorf), Enno Isermann (Berlin), Wolfgang Käppler (Bonn), Pia Karger (Berlin), Raphael Kies (San Domenico di Fiesole), Hans J. Kleinsteuber (Hamburg), Paul Klück (Utrecht), Frank Koop (Bonn), Christian Kröning (Kiel), Werner Krüger (Bielefeld), Hajo Lanz (Bonn), Jörn von Lucke (Speyer), Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff (Bielefeld), Rolf Luehrs (Hamburg), Oliver Märker (Sankt Augustin), Miriam Meckel (Münster), Nathalie Merle (Frankfurt am Main), Daniel Nathwath (Gütersloh), Michael Niewerth (Hannover), Beth Simone Noveck (New Haven, CT), Jürgen Ockermann (Düsseldorf), Dieter Otten (Osnabrück), Deirdre Pappalardo (London), Frens Peters (Hannover), Annika Poppenborg (Sankt Augustin), Johannes Portaro (Netphen), Anette Pröber (Rostock), Oliver Rüß (Potsdam), Roland Schäfer (Frankfurt am Main), Jörg-Olaf Schäfers (Paderborn), Ingrid Scheithauer (Frankfurt am Main), Melanie Heike Schmidt (Münster), Oliver Schmidt (Gütersloh), Lutz Schreiber (Hamburg), Ignace Snellen (Rotterdam), Claus Sobot (Bielefeld), Bettina Sokol (Düsseldorf), Christian Sommer (Hamburg), Martin Stock (Bielefeld), Gerd Strohmeier (Passau), Hellen Tackenberg (Bochum), Damian Tambini (London), Jörg Tauss (Berlin), Ulrich Tucholke (Bremen), Frank Vogelsang (Berlin), Ines Vollmeier (Münster), Martin Voregger (Gelsenkirchen), Thorsten Voß (Münster), Juri Weiss (Biel-Bienne), Christoph Werthmann (Münster), Joachim Wieland (Bielefeld), Olaf Winkel (Bochum), Runar Woldt (Düsseldorf), Hermann Zimmermann (Berlin)