Experts envision more e-gov
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Dec 05, 2001
"State of the Internet, 2001 Edition"
Despite the current economic recession, e-government and Internet usage
will be a top priority among state and federal lawmakers next year, said
experts during a Dec. 5 meeting of a National Conference of State Legislatures
assembly in Washington, D.C.
"Using the Internet to provide government services...could save taxpayers
millions if not billions of dollars," said Tim Lordon of the Congressional
Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, a 5-year-old private, nonprofit group
that advises the bipartisan caucus on Internet issues.
He said e-government will be one of the "visionary" issues Congress
will deal with next year. Other top Internet issues will deal with:
* The medium's usage as an emergency broadcast system to replace or
supplement the traditional network.
* Pacing court documents online.
* Using the Internet to train or retrain workers.
* Reviewing the quality of information posted on the Internet because
people primarily use it as a research tool.
* Expanded use of wireless spectrum.
Emily Hackett, acting executive director of the Internet Alliance, a
trade association and lobbying group, also noted that e-government will
be one of the primary issues among state lawmakers. This year and next,
she said, security and terrorism will be a hot topic, especially with states
trying to protect their physical and cyber infrastructures.
She also noted that privacy, taxes, e-mail spam, content regulation,
and identification and credit card fraud will be other important issues
considered by legislatures.
Mark Rhoads, vice president of the United States Internet Council, a
nonpartisan educational group, presented the "State of the Internet, 2001
Edition" report about the changing architecture and demographics of the
Web. Among its findings, the report said that governments internationally
are "increasingly leveraging the Internet to effect cost-savings, operational
efficiency, and enhance accessibility to information and services online."
Governments in North America, Europe and several nations in the Asia-Pacific
region are leading the digital charge, although most initiatives and projects
are still in their formative stages.
There are 500 million Internet users worldwide, of which 180 million
are in the United States, Rhoads said. The study found that almost 60 percent
of American households have access to the Internet, and the digital divide
in terms of gender has closed and is closing fast when it comes to race.
But some authoritarian governments —
China, for example —
by the Internet and are creating a "sub-Internet" to control content and
prevent people from getting information not provided by the state.
In the United States, Rhoads said many state legislatures have established
committees and subcommittees to discuss Internet and related issues.
"At least people begin to understand why all this matters," he said.