Roger Clarke's 'eDemocracy'

The Internet and Democracy
Has Hong Kong Left It Too Late??

Roger Clarke

Principal, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra

Visiting Professor, E-Commerce Programme, University of Hong Kong

Visiting Professor, Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre, University of N.S.W.

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Presentation to the China Information Technology and Law Centre, Departments of Law and CSIS, University of Hong Kong, 10 September 2004

Version of 6 September 2004

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 2004

Available under an AEShareNet Free
for Education licence

This document is at


There is much debate in Hong Kong about popular election for the Chief Minister and for all seats in LegCo. But if the Internet is really having some of the impacts it promises, isn't the debate a bit academic?

Certainly there are contributions that information technology is making to elections, both conventional booth-voting and voting over the Internet.

And eGovernment began as merely cheaper channels and 24/7 service. But then came entry-points delivering greater accessibility, and they are leading to calls for much brisker and more effective handling of queries and complaints, and better case-management. An expectation of eFOI has emerged, and leaks and whistle-blowing are becoming more mainstream.

Citizens are even having the temerity to demand participation in government processes. Mere environmental impact statements are no longer acceptable; impact assessment processes are necessary, featuring more open information flows and consultations with stakeholders, and the public generally.

But it is beyond government administration, in the sphere of politics, that the most fundamental changes may be occurring. The Internet has been harnessed as a tool by individual politicians and by parties; but also by constituencies and interest groups. The actions of elected representatives are subject to far more detailed monitoring than was possible in the past. Elector activism is a potent force.

And hanging behind all that is the spectre of direct democracy, because the scope exists for the public to recall representatives, to repeal legislation, to determine key policy settings, and to initiate legislation. Perhaps Hong Kong should lead the world, by jumping from a unique form of partial democracy to some new form of eDemocracy.

Source Materials

The presentation is based on Clarke (2003).

Here are the PowerPoint slides.

A previous presentation in the E-Commerce Programme's Expert Series was by Prof. Michael Shamos in February 2004, on Electronic Voting.


Go to Roger's Home Page.

Go to the contents-page for this segment.

Send an email to Roger

Created: 6 September 2004

Last Amended: 6 September 2004

These community service pages are a joint offering of the Australian National University (which provides the infrastructure), and Roger Clarke (who provides the content).
The Australian National University
Visiting Fellow, Faculty of
Engineering and Information Technology,
Information Sciences Building Room 211
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, ACN: 002 360 456
78 Sidaway St
Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, 6288 6916