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2013年4月21日 (日)

ネット選挙へ 「悪意」の発信をどう防ぐか

The Yomiuri Shimbun April 20, 2013
Steps must be taken to prevent malicious online campaign messages
ネット選挙へ 「悪意」の発信をどう防ぐか(4月19日付・読売社説)

The go-ahead has been given at long last in Japan to lift a ban on electoral campaigning over the Internet. The end of the online campaigning ban is expected to encourage political participation by young voters.

A bill for revising the Public Offices Election Law for online political campaigning was unanimously approved in a special committee of the House of Councillors Thursday. The bill was set to be passed into law today [Friday], and will be applicable from this summer's upper house election.

The law is aimed at enabling campaigning on websites, including blogs and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, after the announcement of an election.

Most industrially advanced countries already allow Internet-based campaigning.

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama drew fully upon the strength of the Net in getting information out and engaging in dialogue with the public, garnering support from a large number of young voters. Obama's winning campaign was referred to as an "election revolution."

Boost in turnout hoped for

Japan has lagged behind in introducing online political campaigning, but the new system should be utilized to help voters make informed decisions and boost voter turnout.

Under the new system, political parties and candidates can no longer depend solely on the conventional style of electioneering such as repeatedly shouting their names from campaign vehicles and distributing leaflets and fliers.

It has become necessary for them to appeal to voters via the Internet in detail about things that can hardly be conveyed through brief stumping on the street, such as economic and national security policies.

Voters, for their part, will have the advantage of being able to learn about the arguments of parties and candidates in detail. It will also become possible for voters to have dialogues with candidates over the Net and to call on their fellow citizens to support a candidate by sharing information with a wide spectrum of the public through social media such as Twitter.

Campaigning via e-mail, however, is permitted only to parties and candidates, since e-mail is considered prone to be abused in campaigning. The bill's circumspect avoidance of completely lifting restrictions on Internet campaigning shows proper judgment.

The ruling and opposition parties are now working out specific arrangements for how to conduct their online political campaigns. The new electioneering methods should be made universally known to the public to prevent confusion on the part of either candidates or voters.

One important task facing the Net campaign system is how to prevent people from engaging in slander and libel to defeat candidates, or posing as candidates to make fake statements.

The worst such cases will lead to charges of defamation or false representation under the Public Offices Election Law, but it will be extremely difficult to delete false or erroneous information from the Net, as it can spread very promptly.

Watchdog may be needed

The bill makes it mandatory to indicate e-mail addresses or other contact information about message senders when campaigning is conducted using websites or e-mail.

Internet service providers will be allowed to delete messages that fail to include such information. This will help curb the spread of malicious messages to some degree.

Responsibility for monitoring information on the Net and blocking illicit messages is left up to political parties and candidates under the legislation. Whether a public organ should be set up for this purpose has yet to be discussed.

In last year's South Korean presidential election, the Central Election Administration Commission's "cyber election campaign irregularities surveillance team" reportedly deleted more than 7,000 questionable messages online.

It may become necessary in Japan, too, to create a similar surveillance body, depending on how the Internet-based campaigning develops.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 19, 2013)
(2013年4月19日01時17分  読売新聞)


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