Introduction

Author:G. Arévalo Nieto/E. Fernández Vicente/J.A. Messía de la Cerda Ballesteros/J.A. Rubio Blanco
Pages:11-19
 
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1.- Introduction
Public administrations should be paying special attention to the arrival
and developments of the Knowledge Society so as to ascertain whether they are
ready to fully benefit from all its promises. This, in turn, will motivate new
endeavours in related relevant topics, such as the protection of the privacy and
data of network users in general and, more specifically, of e-government and e-
participation sites. This is the objective of the Interreg E-Prodat project which
studies how European authorities, whether at local, regional or national levels,
are ready to implement e-government and e-participation strategies and
whether they are paying attention to data protection in this area.. As a (key) by-
product, we shall identify best practices in data protection within e-
administration. With this information, E-Prodat will start the development of
an e-Government Data Protection Observatory, which will aim at supporting
best practices in the European public sector.
1.1. Information Technologies in the New
Society
Advances in information and communication technologies (ICT),
including the ever-present Internet and globalized communications, are
revolutionising virtually every aspect of life and facilitating access to
information, in an exponential way. Naturally, this is affecting governments and
public administrations, which are exploring how to interact with citizens in
order to provide better administrative services and facilitate participation. This,
on one hand, calls for administrations to reengineer their processes so as to
benefit more from ICT while, on the other, it means they have to facilitate
citizen access to ICT and, perhaps more importantly, introduce new automated
processes requested by a citizenry increasingly aware of the potential of ICT.
These changes are facilitating citizen access to more, and better, information
previously held only by governments whilst improving the efficiency of
processes, reducing tedious tasks and, hopefully, increasing citizen satisfaction.
We are, therefore, facing the beginning of a revolution which will redefine the
role of Administrations, brought about by elements such as databases which
allow massive storage of information or networks which allow fast and secure
communications (the implications of which are still unclear). This revolution,

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