Online democracy – Task force to study Web activism

The Online Democracy Task Force — funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts — has been established to explore the Internet’s effect on democracy, the Associated Press reports.

The task force will address commercialization of the Internet, Internet voting and the “digital divide” that keeps poor people and minorities from access to technology.

The task force will be headed by former U.S. Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., and former Rep. Rick White, R-Wash.

Academics, business officials, and politicians will assess online companies like Capital Advantage that aim to make the Internet a tool for democracy.

Last year, 5 million individual e-mail messages were sent to elected officials and government agencies from the 400 Web Sites that use Capital Advantage software, AP says.

The company provides e-mail access to members of Congress, as well as access to comprehensive candidate voting records.

E-advocates, a new subsidiary of Capital Advantage, will help organizations launch Internet lobbying campaigns.

In February, Capital Advantage and the Associated Press announced AP Election Center, which will offer complete state-by-state ballot summaries, candidate profiles, congressional voting records and real-time results on election night to AP member sites.

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