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It's curtains for net voting

Mowlam says UK is not ready for online democracy

Mo Mowlam, minister for the Cabinet Office, which oversees much of the so-called e-government plans, yesterday condemned the idea that the UK should move to voting online.

In a debate examining online politics, hosted by the Guardian, Mowlam expressed her scepticism about whether the internet can be an effective conduit for the voice of the people.

"The internet takes out interaction [in person], and politics is about people," said Mowlam.

Andy Robson, web editor at democracy pressure group Charter 88, agreed the UK wasn't ready, but denied the internet was bad for democracy.

"Anything which potentially opens up the democratic process is a good thing," said Robson. "[But] we could not have online voting in the current climate," he added. "Not only are there massive security issues, [but] all users would have to own and run the necessary software. We are a long way off that."

Local authorities in London are developing an online voting system developed by software company Entranet. The system lets people vote using any connected device, from mobile phones and digital TVs to Sega Dreamcasts.

"Allowing citizens to cast their vote online makes the democratic process easier for them to access and more relevant to modern life," said Entranet's managing director Nick Spooner.

But Spooner admitted security was a major issue.

"There are problems with identifying individuals and worries over the security of home computers which have not been resolved," said Robson.

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