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Students rebel against IT
Not so long ago students fought tooth and nail to get into IT courses. Now, they are shunning such studies, with massive implications for Ireland's reputation as a high-tech centre.
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Global e-government 25 September
Wednesday, September 25 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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Seven constituencies in Ireland to use electronic voting in the Nice referendum | Critics of the US draft 'cyber security' plan say the scheme lacks bite

Ireland's forthcoming Nice referendum will feature electronic voting in seven constituencies. The constituencies are Dublin West, Dublin North, Meath -- all of which voted electronically in the last general election -- and Dublin Mid-West, Dublin South, Dublin South-West and Dun Laoghaire. The government may have to reschedule its electronic voting plans, however, if a legal challenge calling for proper bilingual facilities succeeds in the High Court. A judicial review is set to take place regarding e-voting in Dublin West, following objections from a Palmerstown resident whose first language is Irish.

The European Commission has launched a pan-European e-government portal, Public-Services.eu. The site provides information on "cross-border public services" in seven EU member states: Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, France and Germany. It provides information and services aimed at helping European citizens and enterprises carry out cross-border activities, such as moving to another country or finding out about trade regulations. The Commission has so far spent EUR250,000 on setting up the IT systems for the portal, and it hopes to soon be able to provide information from all EU member states, as well as from EEA and EU candidate countries.

A local authority user group in the UK has warned that funding for e-government initiatives is being wasted, according to a report on VNUnet.com. Speaking at a local e-government conference, Jim Haslem, president of the Society of IT Management, said that government targets had encouraged local authorities to put their services on-line, but this did not ensure they would actually be used by the public. Haslem recommended that targets should measure customer satisfaction and integration with external agencies. Andrew Webster, acting director of public research at government watchdog the Audit Commission, said that about one-fifth of councils are struggling with their on-line strategies, and as a result they are concentrating on meeting targets without considering whether they improve public access to their services.

In other news from the UK, local authorities are increasingly using Internet filtering software as a means to prevent employees and members of the public viewing inappropriate Web sites, according to Websense, a supplier of employee Internet management (EIM) software. The company says that more than 150 government agencies currently use Websense Enterprise software in their workplace. Driving the purchase of EIM software is a growing concern about on-line chat rooms, which pose a security threat because attackers of such sites can circumvent traditional firewall and virus protection.

Young people in the Scottish Highlands are preparing to vote electronically in the Highland Youth Voice (HYV) elections. Eighty-five HYV representatives will be elected to an on-line parliament (www.highlandyouthvoice.org) between 5 and 10 October. The candidates were nominated by 29 secondary schools in the Highlands, following initial election processes at each school. The organisation, which is sponsored by government and health service agencies and supported by the International Teledemocracy Centre at Glasgow's Napier University, has regular consultations with the Scottish Parliament.

The US government has revealed a draft "cyber security" plan, but critics say the proposal lacks bite. President Bush's special adviser on cyberspace security, Richard Clarke, unveiled the draft proposal, under which numerous government agency heads and representatives from computer organisations pledged to work together to eradicate vulnerabilities in IT systems. Critics said the plan would do little to aid the complex issue of securing the Internet and IT systems, beyond providing an educational role. "Without a law to back up recommendations, this plan is a waste of time," said Russ Cooper, a senior computer security expert at TruSecure in a Financial Times interview.

Romania is reaping the benefits of an electronic procurement system, reports Government Computing News. A total of 488 bodies across the public sector have used a EUR40 million pilot e-procurement system, which sells 3,000 products via an Internet-based system. Ion Marcu, e-procurement co-ordinator for the Ministry of Communications and IT, said the project had already saved the government EUR4 million. Marcu noted, however, that the government had had to put pressure on public bodies to begin using the system.

Concerns have been raised in Jordan that officials seem to be more concerned with the public acceptance of e-government than with the implementation of the necessary technology, according to an article in the Jordan Times Online. The concern was expressed during a recent three-day workshop on implementing an e-government strategy. The head of e-government for Jordan's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT), Mahmoud Khasawneh, said that two of the most important e-government functions -- electronic procurement and accounting -- are almost complete. However, officials acknowledged that social, political, and cultural values in Jordan will greatly influence the success of e-government. So far, 30 percent of the e-government initiatives in the north of the country and 60 percent in the south have failed.

China is one the increasing number of countries that are looking to open-source software, such as the Linux, as an alternative to Microsoft applications. Jiang Guangzhi, director of a Chinese government software development centre, claims that Linux would ensure freedom of choice in the Chinese software market and would help combat piracy in the country. A Chinese delegation recently made a trip to the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco and visited IBM Linux researchers in New York. IBM is the main sponsor of Linux in the corporate world and has won many government clients. It recently made a deal with Germany to deploy open-source technology in municipal and national agencies there.



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