An Ethical Approach to the Development of Systems for Electronic Democracy

Michael Edward Bowern

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    The research question addressed in this thesis is how can the use of ICT in democratic processes provide a society with an improved democracy? There are two presuppositions in this question: a) that democracy needs improving, and b) that ICT can contribute to any improvement in democracy. Over the last thirty years, the dominance of market economics and globalisation, and the increased influence of business on government decision making, has resulted in a loss of trust by citizens in their governments, suggesting the need to improve democratic processes. Examples show that ICT has already been used with some success in electronic voting and vote counting. ICT also could also provide opportunities for greater participation by citizens in their political society. However, problems can arise from the use of ICT in democratic processes. The rate that new innovations occur, and the invisibility factors of software, result in policy vacuums; meaning there could be violations of democratic principles through the use of ICT. The conclusion reached is that improvements to democracy should be implemented by designing new democratic processes which maximise methods of participation and deliberation; and which apply democratic principles such as political equality and transparency. When the process has been designed, the role, if any, for ICT can be identified. It is argued that the rigorous methods followed to develop high-integrity computer systems, such as those for aviation, should be used to develop applications for democratic processes. These methods are summarised as four principles for the use of ICT in systems for democracy - use appropriate technology, use open standards, use rigorous development processes, and use superior governance.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Campbell, Thomas, Co-Supervisor
    • Boughton, Clive, Co-Supervisor, External person
    • Weckert, John, Principal Supervisor
    Award date01 Nov 2008
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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