Governments can use internet technologies to facilitate its citizens to pay taxes or pay bills. E-seva system in India has cut down on long line ups and bribing officials. The February 14 issue of Economist discusses e-government initiatives in depth in a a special report. There may be some functions, like issuing passports, in which the old fashioned paper method is better for security and control, because you don’t want the process to attract anyone and everyone. Evan VanDyk summarizes key points from the special report, but I was struck by Ross Anderson’s criticism of national governments that build databases are more vulnerable than local governments at preventing security breaches. Anderson claims that “You can have security, or functionality, or scale — you can even have any two of these.”

In Ontario, I go to an electronic kiosk in a mall to renew my licence plate sticker. A senior was ahead of me in the line up and we both got our stickers without hitches. — Brenda


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