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As households take up broadband, people increasingly become 'heavy users' of the internet.128 It is important that when Australians engage with the digital economy, they have the requisite digital confidence and skills to do so safely and productively.
The increase in time spent online by Australians is arguably the result of two trends. Firstly, the generation of 'digital natives'—those who do not know life without a computer, the internet and MP3s. Digital natives first log-on earlier in their lives than previous generations and rarely log-off. They participate online differently than older generations: '" [d]igital natives" almost never distinguish between the online and offline version of themselves'.129 The lack of an online/offline distinction by digital natives throws into sharper relief any differences that exist between online and offline regulation.
In addition to digital natives developing a lifelong click-stream, 'digital immigrants'—those who learn and adopt the internet and related technologies later in life130, are also spending more time online. The differences between digital natives and digital immigrants may raise challenges for policy makers and industry in crafting new regulatory frameworks and business models. Digital natives may be more confident online and less aware of or concerned by risks, whereas digital immigrants may be less confident and more concerned about risks.
As Australians spend more time online, a problem arises if they go online expecting the same levels of protections as exist in the offline world and either those protections are absent or consumers do not know how to mitigate online risks. It is important that government and industry collaborate to ensure that people are as capable and confident to interact and engage via the internet as they are offline.
The Australian Government promotes consumer digital confidence by measures targeted to address three key online risks to consumers. These are:
- privacy protection
A recent ACMA report131 found that consumers currently place a high reliance on informal methods of training and acquiring knowledge about the internet and do not have significant concerns about their online security. ACMA concludes that while "concerns over online security are not currently a barrier to participation" there is a "potential need for more formal and continuing education to address knowledge gaps about appropriate and available technical and behavioural measures to mitigate online risks."132
Advances in technology significantly impact on individual privacy. For example, many consumers may not fully understand that almost everything they do online is recorded somewhere or how it may be used for online advertising or other new business models. This has given rise to the need to review our information privacy laws to ensure they operate consistently and effectively. In this context, the Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) Review report on Australia's privacy laws—For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice133—released in August 2008 provided an added stimulus for the Government to update Australia's privacy laws for the 21st Century.
The first stage of the Government's response has focused on recommendations relating to developing a set of Unified Privacy Principles, enhancing protection for health and credit reporting information and improving education about the impact of new technologies on privacy. The Government has consulted with both public and private sector stakeholders on these recommendations, including calling for submissions, and it is expected that an exposure draft of the proposed amendments to the Privacy Act 1988, resulting from the Government's response to stage one, will be released in 2009.134
The Australian Government undertakes an integrated approach to e-security to maintain a secure and trusted electronic operating environment for both the public and private sectors.
A range of e-security awareness raising initiatives have been implemented to help home users, school students and SMEs use the internet in a secure and confident manner. These include interactive self-learning modules for students in years three and nine, an annual National E-Security Awareness Week in partnership with industry and community organisations, and the Stay Smart Online website135 that provides simple step-by-step information on secure online practices and hosts an alert service for plain English information on the latest threats and vulnerabilities and how to address them.
The Australian Government has in place a range of initiatives relating to a business-government partnership for e-security and critical infrastructure protection. The Trusted Information Sharing Network for Critical Infrastructure Protection facilitates the sharing of vital security-related information between and within business and government on critical infrastructure protection and organisation resilience. In addition, the Australian Government Computer Emergency Readiness Team (GovCERT.au) works with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure and key business to provide them with situational awareness of e-security threats.
During 2008 the Government conducted a comprehensive review of its e-security policies, programs and capabilities. A number of key recommendations of the Review are already being implemented including:
- The Government is working with the Internet Industry Association to develop an ISP code of practice for e-security to help inform, educate and protect Australian internet users.
- GovCERT.au has established three information exchanges to enable sharing of detailed technical information between government and businesses operating in the telecommunications, banking and finance and water and power utilities sectors.
- The Government is coordinating the creation of a national computer emergency response team (CERT) that will provide a single point of contact for e-security matters within the Australian Government for business, the public, overseas CERTs and foreign governments. This will ensure Australians have access to information on e-security threats, vulnerabilities in their systems and information on how to better protect their ICT from attacks.
In addition, a new Australian Government policy framework for e-security will be released later this year, which was a key recommendation of the 2008 E-Security Review. This framework will articulate the Government's e-security objectives and identify the strategies and capabilities required to achieve these objectives.
To reflect the growing importance of cyber-safety within the community, the Australian Government has committed funding of $125.8 million over four years for a Cyber-Safety Plan to combat online risks and help parents and educators protect children from inappropriate material. The Plan includes funding for education and information measures; law enforcement; help line and websites; ISP filtering; consultative arrangements with industry, child protection bodies and children; and further research to identify possible areas for further action. This research, together with advice from the Youth Advisory Group on Cyber-safety, will assist the Government to identify current and emerging cyber-safety risks, such as cyber-bullying, experienced by young people and how best to help young people, their parents and their teachers deal with them.
The Government is currently undertaking a live pilot trial of ISP filtering technologies that will inform the Government's policy. Nine ISPs are taking place in the trial to test different technologies against impact on network performance, accuracy including under-blocking and over-blocking, costs and ease of circumvention. The trial is expected to conclude in mid-2009 with a report to follow.
ACMA also provides a range of cyber-safety information and resources designed to meet the needs of children, parents, teachers, and library staff. This includes advice for young children through resources such as Cybersmart Detectives, Cyberquoll, and Cybernetrix. It also includes Cybersafety Outreach, involving professional development and presentations in metropolitan and regional centres throughout Australia.
Industry also has a role to play in promoting consumer confidence, protecting user privacy and promoting online safety. Several recent developments confirm industry's awareness of the need to promote consumer confidence in the use of digital economy tools. Major internet browsers such as Safari, Microsoft's IE 8 (beta) and Mozilla's Firefox 3.1 (beta) have introduced features that allow users to switch to private web surfing. Industry can also adopt best-practice with respect to data handling processes consistent with the 'Guide to Handling Personal Information Security Breaches' released by the Australian Privacy Commissioner. The guide sets out advice for agencies and organisations to prevent and manage data breaches.
Companies that provide online platforms such as social networking or user-generated content sites offer a range of tools and measures designed to promote user safety on their sites. Australian consumers can utilise these measures and take advantage of a fact sheet released by ACMA-Social Networking: Staying Safe Online136 that identifies potential risks from using such sites, what Australians can do to address the risks and where to go for assistance. Further assistance for users of these sites is found in material produced by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which is aimed at educating individuals about how to protect their information when using social networking sites.137
Government and industry initiatives to promote privacy and security online are important to build digital confidence, and more may need to be done. Data suggests that the most common activities Australians undertake online are checking email, banking, news and weather updates and paying bills.138
Case study: the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and one-stop-shop banking
Online banking is the second most popular activity that Australians conduct online (the first is checking email).139 By 2007, Australia had one of the highest rates of adoption of online banking services around the world.140
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is one of Australia's leading providers of financial services. In 1997 the launch of NetBank heralded CBA as one of the first major Australian bank to provide an online banking platform with 24-hour access to transaction banking services.
The first forays into online banking for CBA were driven primarily by a desire to offer customers an additional channel through which to conduct their financial affairs and provide them with convenience. This complemented existing channels such as Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and telephone banking.
Finest Online, CBA's latest upgrade to its internet banking services, was rolled out in February 2009. Customers now have one login and password that provides them with access to all of the financial services offered by CBA, whether it may be banking, broking, financial management or insurance.
The strategy driving Finest Online has changed from that which led to the development of the initial services of the late 1990s. Rather than providing a third means (in addition to ATMs and the telephone) of completing the most common banking transactions, Finest Online aimed to provide a full self-service experience. This means that customers don't have to go into a branch or contact a call centre.
The benefits to CBA from offering online banking are the much lower cost per transaction, higher rates of accuracy and greater staff satisfaction because they avoid routine transactions and are able to focus on the more interesting and complex sales advisory services and offering higher value advice. The platform improvements have also led to increased revenues.
For more information about CBA and 'Finest Online', see the complete case study on Online Banking: the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Households with broadband connections are likely to do more of these activities as well as use online maps, participate in online auctions and enjoy streaming audio and video.141 For Australia to benefit fully from the NBN and the digital economy, government, industry and consumers must work together to ensure e-commerce, e-health and e-learning also feature prominently in our most popular online activities.
A successful digital economy requires Australian households and businesses to have the necessary skills to effectively and productively participate. If Australians lack the requisite skills to engage online, they may miss out on future employment and collaboration opportunities and Australia may fail to grow successful local digital economy companies or attract foreign investment in the form of regional hubs.
Individuals require digital media literacy skills. As several of the public submissions received during the consultation phase for the development of this paper noted, one marker of Australia's success in maximising our participation in the digital economy will come when distinctions are no longer made between digital and non-digital skills. Or, when education and training programs seamlessly integrate instruction about how to engage with technology as part of the regular course of discussion.
Digital media literacy ensures that all Australians are able to enjoy the benefits of the digital economy: it promotes opportunities for social inclusion, creative expression, innovation, collaboration and employment. People in regional, rural and remote areas can also have improved access to these opportunities. Digital media literacy gives children the capability to effectively learn online; consumers the confidence to search for information and transact online; and businesses the ability to become more efficient and compete in a global marketplace.
The focus of digital media literacy policy and programs is on the development of three core skill sets:
- the technical ability to engage at a basic level with a computer and the internet, such as to create documents and emails
- the ability to understand and critically evaluate digital media and digital media content
- the ability to create content and communications.
Digital media literacy is a dynamic concept.142 Skill requirements depend on the circumstances in which users finds themselves and will change over time. Digital media literacy can be self-taught or constitute part of formal instruction but is a continuous process for all ages and stages of life.
The Australian Government is building Australia's digital media literacy amongst schoolchildren by committing $2 billion over five years to the Digital Education Revolution. The aim of the Digital Education Revolution143 is to prepare Australian students for further education, training and employment and to equip them with the skills they need to live, work and succeed in an increasingly digital world by providing ICT equipment, broadband connections and access to training. Something as simple as the opportunity to access a computer can provide tremendous educational benefits for students.
Case study: the 'Podkids'—learning digital skills and connecting with the world
The 'Podkids' started in 2006 when Orange Grove Primary School in West Australia decided to start using the one computer available at the school to make a 'podcast'—an internet radio show. The idea was to create a school newspaper where the students would talk about what they were doing at school and conduct interviews with their parents and teachers but in audio format. When the group first uploaded their podcasts to www.podkids.com.au they thought only parents and some educators would want to listen in. However, today the 'Podkids' have listeners in more than 50 countries with at least 50 000 downloads in countries as diverse as the United Kingdom, Japan, the Philippines, Greece, Trinidad and Tobago, Lithuania, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
In 'Podkids Episode 16' the students talk about what having a computer allows them to do Maths 300 and Mathletics, helping with music instruction by allowing kids to create their own music, and learning spelling. Asked how computers have changed their experience, one response was that 'It's fun for once.' Several students also noted that using a computer allowed them to save paper '...so we won't have to cut down trees and won't harm the animals.' Another commented that 'The internet is never boring.'
In mid–2007 the school community agreed that, from the start of 2008, every school student in year four to seven at Orange Grove Primary School would have their own computer. The 1:1 student/computer ratio has 'transformed everything'. Recently, the 'Podkids' demonstrated their advanced digital skills by creating a series of 'stop-motion animation' films using clay, Lego and the cameras built into their laptops. The 'Podkids' were only able to create something as time-intensive as stop-motion animation because they had their own laptop.
For more information about the Podkids, see the complete case study on Podkids: learning digital skills and connecting with the world.
Initiatives under the Digital Education Revolution include:
- the provision of high speed broadband to schools by a contribution of up to $100 million for the development and further consolidation of affordable fast broadband services for school education144
- the National Secondary School Computer Fund, which provides up to $1 million for secondary schools to upgrade ICT equipment (more than 2700 schools have received more than 290 000 computers after three rounds of funding, with the aim of bringing all secondary students in Australia to a computer/student ratio of 1:2 and includes further funding to achieve a 1:1 ratio by 2011)
- $32.6 million towards:
- the development of online curriculum tools and resources, including online curriculum resources targeting key learning areas, such as English, mathematics, the sciences, history, languages and geography
- access to high-quality learning resources from digital repositories developed by schools and academic, cultural and scientific institutions
- support for the development of policies, protocols, infrastructure and standards required to enable schools to safely and seamlessly communicate, collaborate and access and use resources across school, system and jurisdictional boundaries.
These tools and resources will build on work done through existing initiatives such as The Le@rning Federation145 and will be aligned with the national curriculum to be developed by 2010.
The Government has also introduced a range of measures to reverse the historic decline in the study of science and maths. These include new incentives to increase undergraduate enrolments in these subjects and a commitment to build hundreds of new high school science laboratories under the Science and Language Centres for 21st Century Secondary Schools Program.146
To support high-quality digital capabilities for teaching and learning, the Government has announced various measures as part of the $5.3 billion over five years being spent in response to the Bradley and Cutler Reviews to support higher education, research and innovation.147 The Education Investment Fund ($4.065 billion over 2008–13) will provide support for strategic capital infrastructure investments that transform education and research capacity such as digital innovation skills. To improve online access, funding will be provided for the Vocational Education Broadband Network ($81.9 million over three years), to complement the National Broadband Network and extend the Digital Education Revolution into the training sector.
In addition to Government activities, industry initiatives play a strong role in promoting digital media literacy. For example, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association provides 'Str8 talk', online information that assists young people to keep their mobile use fun, safe and affordable.148 The Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA), provides podcasts of a consumer version of its 'Let's talk Internet" series, which covers seven topics ranging from how to get started and sending email, to buying online and the history of the internet.149 In addition, in 2008 the Australian Children's Television Foundation commenced 'TropJr', a short filmmaking contest open to anyone under 15 years of age.150
Industry has an important role to play in developing Australia's digital skills. This role includes taking the initiative to develop and utilise available information and awareness raising materials for consumers and for businesses. Industry can also continue to identify relevant needs and contribute specialised information, which can all form part of ongoing ICT curriculum and training development. In addition, industry can encourage high-level ICT skills in Australian students and graduates through contests, internship opportunities and on-the-job training programs.
Community: enjoys digital confidence and digital media literacy
To ensure that Australians engage productively and safely online, government, industry and our community must work together to build digital confidence and digital media literacy. In particular, Australians must increasingly complement informal methods with more formal methods of self-education to address knowledge gaps about appropriate and available technical and behavioural measures to mitigate online risks and maximise online benefits. Both government and industry have strong roles to play in raising awareness and providing tools to support more formal self-education.
Industry can also play a significant role in encouraging consumer digital confidence, for example, in the design of products and services that adopt best-practice privacy protections and promote and respect security and safety concerns.
To assist the community in the development of digital confidence and digital media literacy, the Australian Government will review privacy laws for the 21st century.
To promote e-security, the Australian Government will:
- implement the recommendations of the review of its e-security policy, programs and capabilities
- release a new policy framework for e-security to maintain a secure and trusted electronic operating environment for both the public and private sectors
- implement the Cyber-Safety Plan
- build digital skills through the Digital Education Revolution.
Australia's digital strategy must be sensitive to the fact that not all community groups currently participate online equally. The potential for digital exclusion needs to be addressed in the design of online services and in the framing of social inclusion policies. The issue becomes particularly acute where the characteristics of the digitally excluded overlap with those of the socially excluded151 and the lack of online participation among certain groups has the effect of further exacerbating exclusion from society. As one study noted:
'Technology and social disadvantage are inextricably linked. This means that social policy goals will be increasingly difficult to realise as mainstream society continues to embrace changes in our information society while those on the margins are left further behind-disengaged digitally, economically, and socially.' 152
This challenge becomes particularly important as broadband usage becomes more commonplace. The OECD recognises that a 'digital-use divide' based on inequalities of use and socioeconomic factors are emerging, '[a]s broadband use increases in frequency, variety and diversity among frequent users[,] two other effects are likely to increase the advantages of broadband use for frequent and diversified users. The costs of undertaking transactions via the Internet are likely to be lower than off-line costs and to decline further, and there is likely to be a rapid expansion of diversified and accessible content available. Both of these effects are likely to increase the importance and impacts of the digital use divide linked with broadband use.'153
Recent data suggests that not all community groups are equally participating online. One ACMA report noted:
'While a majority of Australians use the internet and participate online to some degree, there are still an estimated 2.6 million Australians who do not use the internet. While the level of internet use is only one measure by which we can determine inclusion, it clearly shows that not all sections of the community are equally involved in the digital economy.'154
ACMA's findings indicate that age has a significant impact on whether a household had an internet connection. Of those households without an internet connection, nearly half were aged 50 and over. Other determining factors for non-participation included income level (66 per cent of people living in a household without an internet connection earned under $50 000 a year), whether a person lived with a partner but no children (people living with a partner and no children are more likely to have internet access), and whether people were retired (retirees are less likely to have internet access). The primary reasons cited for lack of an internet connection were lack of relevance to lifestyle, cost and difficulty. Patterns of internet activity may also differ depending on the location of a household (metropolitan versus non-metropolitan)155 with lower rates of take-up in non-metropolitan areas.
While not all of the characteristics common to households lacking an internet connection are necessarily common to social exclusion (for example, age or an absence of children), these findings suggest areas for further work where, for example, the lack of online participation arises from perceptions of a lack of relevance or of difficulty. It may be that online engagement can address some of the very challenges these groups otherwise experience in society on a day-to-day basis. Two examples are social networking applications, which could be used to address social isolation and government services and online financial services, which could support the economically disadvantaged.156
The potential for the digital engagement to provide greater satisfaction for the digitally excluded, once barriers of perceptions of relevance and skill levels are overcome, is arguably demonstrated by the recent finding that the strongest growth in the use of the internet to contact government in Australia has been in the older age groups. Rates have doubled for those aged 55 to 64 (28 per cent in 2004–05 to 57 per cent in 2008) and nearly tripled for those aged 65 or more (10 per cent in 2004–05 to 27 per cent in 2008).157
Together with the finding that the level of satisfaction is highest among those who used the internet to contact government, this suggests that digital exclusion can be turned into digital empowerment. Strategies to address digital exclusion can include information and awareness campaigns and targeted digital skills programs. Libraries also play an important role in providing internet access, particularly in areas with lower rates of take-up. An estimated 174 474 users accessed the internet per week through public libraries in 2008, an increase of 91 per cent since 2005.158 In addition, libraries frequently offer general and specialised internet training, including for seniors groups or for special topics such as genealogy.159
The Government has a number of initiatives in place that are designed to increase access to online services by all Australians.
To build the confidence of senior Australians in using new technology, the Australian Government has committed $15 million over three years (2008–11) to provide free access to computers, free broadband internet access and free computer training and/or regular computer workshops for seniors. Broadband for Seniors160 will establish up to 2000 free internet kiosks in community centres, retirement villages and clubs used by seniors. The Broadband for Seniors initiative responds to the needs of senior Australians wishing to be trained in the use of the internet and in particular to help them stay connected to family and friends.
The Australian Government's Web Publishing Guide161 provides government agencies with legislative and policy requirements, along with best practice guidelines for publishing government information online. The Guide aims to ensure government websites are accessible to all people, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and to people with disabilities or technological constraints. In addition, the Web Publishing Guide provides details on how agencies can supply information in alternative formats when requested or required.
The Australian Government has conducted a Media Access Review to consider the use of captioning and audio description on free-to-air and subscription television, films in cinemas, DVDs and audio-visual content on the internet. The Government is currently exploring strategies to encourage and facilitate access to electronic media by people with hearing or vision impairments and will respond on the issue in mid–2009.162 In addition, the Government is undertaking a feasibility study into whether a disability equipment program that is independent of telecommunications carriers should be established.163
The Government has announced several initiatives that are targeted to improve the take-up of online services in regional and rural areas. As announced in the 2009–10 Budget, the Government will fund coordinators to help drive broadband take-up in regional communities and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program, as part of the Rural and Regional National Broadband Network Initiative164. The Government will also fund ABC Local online to help establish community websites and portals to create 'virtual town squares' for communities to share experiences. By promoting one of the key tools to participate online (broadband) and by providing locally relevant content and online collaboration platforms, these initiatives should work to ensure a higher rate of online engagement across Australia.
In addition, the Digital Regions Initiative (a key element of the Government's initial response to the Regional Telecommunications Review) is a four-year $60 million Australian Government initiative that will co-fund innovative digital enablement projects with state, territory and local governments. The initiative is a collaborative approach to improve the delivery of education, health and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities. State, territory and local governments seeking funding under the initiative will be required to provide matching contributions.165
The Australian Government also provides support for Indigenous Australians in remote communities to access computers, the internet and training to be able to participate in the digital economy. Basic computer training to 79 remote Indigenous communities was provided in 2008 and 2009. This training element will be continued166 through funding for essential telephone services, basic public internet access facilities and computer training for many remote Indigenous communities, in collaboration with state and territory governments.
Industry also has an important role to play in promoting digital inclusion. This includes incorporating accessibility into the design of ICT as well as programs to promote and support access and skills development among otherwise digitally excluded groups. For example, through its Community Technology Skills grants program, Microsoft provides not-for-profit organisations with funding to support technology training programs that enable individuals to learn about technology and gain the information technology skills needed for employment in the ICT field or other industry sectors. Partners include Workventures, The Smith Family, Yarnteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, Aboriginal Employment Strategy and the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association. This provides important information technology skills training in a range of disadvantaged communities across Australia.
In a similar vein, the Commonwealth Bank, Nortel and Watterson Marketing Communications, have partnered with One Laptop Per Child (Australia) to assist in the provision of laptops and additional services to children living in regional and remote parts of Australia.
Community: experiences inclusive digital participation
The community has the opportunity to experience inclusive digital participation if sufficient access to ICT equipment and skills training is provided by industry and government.
For its part, industry can incorporate accessibility into the design of ICT and deliver programs to promote and support technology access and skill development among otherwise digitally excluded groups. Awareness of the potential for a digital use divide and strategies to redress this should form part of all corporate programs.
For its part, the Government will:
- respond to the Media Access Review and the feasibility study on a disability equipment program
- fund the Indigenous Communications Program167
- deliver the Broadband for Seniors initiative
- through its Rural and Regional National Broadband Network Initiative, fund rural NBN co-ordinators and ABC Local Online
- through the Digital Regions Initiative, support innovative digital enablement projects with state, territory and local governments.
New and emerging Web 2.0 platforms and tools, such as blogs, wikis and social networking platforms, provide innovative and additional ways for community engagement.
The rise of user-generated content provides new ways for Australians to engage, collaborate and interact online. The top 20 websites visited by Australians include Facebook (ranked 4th), MySpace (ranked 6th), YouTube (ranked 8th), Wikipedia (ranked 10th) and Blogger (ranked 19th),168 all of which rely on user-generated content. These platforms provide can strengthen existing communities, such as through the development of 'hyperlocal' news sites, but also allow new communities to develop.
Case study: YouDecide2007—Australia's first citizen journalist experiment
Youdecide2007 was the first experiment in Australia with a collaborative, citizen journalism. It was established to run during the 2007 Australian Federal election campaign. The Youdecide2007 website was designed to enable 'citizen journalism' coverage of the election. The site attempted to recruit citizen journalists from every Australian electorate to foster the development of locality-based content or 'hyper-local news.'
At its peak, the site attracted over 12 000 readers a week-more traffic than all major political parties' sites except the Australian Labor Party. Youdecide2007 published 230 stories, which were a mixture of citizen and staff-generated material. These stories came from 50 of Australia's 156 electorates. Youdecide2007 also broke stories that were picked up by the national press.
For more information about Youdecide2007, see the complete case study on YouDecide2007: an Australian case study in citizen journalism.
For Government, there is the potential for these technologies and platforms to facilitate and enhance greater transparency and accountability, as well as more direct and open engagement between citizens and governments, particularly for policy development.
Governments all over the world are experimenting with and exploring Web 2.0 technologies and platforms.169 One example is the Digital Britain Forum170 in the United Kingdom, which provided an opportunity for citizens to comment on the Digital Britain interim report171 and now includes a blog. Another example is United States President Barack Obama, who ran an online town hall style forum on the White House's website in March 2009. The forum welcomed questions from citizens and allowed them to vote for questions they wanted answered. More than 100 000 people participated and more than three million votes were recorded. The President then answered some of the popular questions in a press meet which was also broadcast live on the White House website.172
Several Australian Government agencies are 'learning by doing', and hosting either regular or periodic blogs, including:
- Austrade's blog, which allows Austrade to communicate with the wider Australian exporter community across a number of content categories and topics relating to export173
- the Department of Defence's blog, which allows the Department to communicate about defence related topics174
- the Australian War Memorial's blog, which provides an opportunity for people to share information on Australia's military history175
- in December 2008, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy's digital economy blog for people to provide comments on the topics being explored in this paper.176
Numerous Australian Government agencies have also established YouTube channels.177 In addition, Australian state, territory and local governments are also successfully engaging with citizens online for policy development. For example, the City of Melbourne hosted the Future Melbourne wiki to garner public input to help shape future planning for the city.178
These examples show that governments are experimenting with innovative means to engage with their citizens using Web 2.0 tools. The challenge, however, is to make the most effective use of these tools to promote efficiencies, transparency and constructive dialogue. As one commentator acknowledged in relation to the digital economy blog:
'It's probably worth remembering: as untried as government consultation blogs are at the federal level in Australia, so too are citizens unused to being able to engage with their government in this way. They may be new at it, but so are we—and both sides still have a lot to learn about the other.'179
Community: benefits through online engagement
The community can be empowered through digital economy platforms to collaborate, create and communicate in ways that are socially and personally enriching.
Industry can use these platforms to develop new markets and experiment with new commercialisation models.
For government, technology facilitates enhanced forms of government-citizen engagement. To assist in this, the Australian Government has:
- trialled Web 2.0 engagements
- established a Government 2.0 Taskforce.
 Supra n 41, p. 8.
 John Palfrey & Urs Gasser 'Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives', (2008) p.20.
 Ibid. p. 4.
 Australian Communications and Media Authority, Australia in the Digital Economy, Report 1: Trust and Confidence (March 2009) p. 1-2 (last accessed: 25 June 2009).
 User acceptance of Online Banking Service in Australia, Communications of the IBIMA, Volume 1, 2008, p. 191.
 Ibid p. 17.
 There is no single agreed term or definition for digital media literacy. ACMA (2009) defines 'digital media literacy' as 'the ability to access, understand and participate or create content using digital media'; Ofcom (2003) defines media literacy as 'the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts' with 'digital literacy' (defined as computer or ICT literacy) as a subset of media literacy. However, the Digital Britain Media Literacy Working Group (2009) considered 'digital media literacy' to be 'the ability to use, understand and create digital media and communications'; and Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions, 'A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment' (2007) states that 'media literacy is generally defined as the ability to access media, to understand and to critically evaluate different aspects of the media and media contents and to create communications in a variety of contexts'.
 The Australian Government has also committed $81.9 million over three years to fund the Vocational Education Broadband Network. This will create a single post-secondary/TAFE sector high-speed broadband network, connecting the Australian training system to a network similar to that currently serving universities.
 For a discussion on the characteristics of social exclusion, see for example, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Social Inclusion: Origin, concepts and key themes, October 2008 (last accessed May 10, 2009).
 UK Department for Communities and Local Government, Digital Inclusion: An Analysis of Social Disadvantage and the Information Society, (Oct. 2008), p. 15.
 Australian Communications and Media Authority, Australia in the Digital Economy, Report 2-Online participation (May 2009) p. 30 (last accessed: 25 June 2009).
 ACMA, Telecommunications Today, p. 9.
 See supra n 6, at p. 14.
 Department of Finance and Deregulation, Interacting with Government: Australians' use and satisfaction with e-government services (2008) p. 4.
 Id. p. 8.
 Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, 'Budget 2009: Rural and Regional NBN Initiative to drive broadband benefits to communities', media release 12 May 2009 (last accessed: 25 June 2009).
 Supra note 80, p. 16.
 See for example, an illustrative list of examples of international government agencies using Web 2.0 technologies and platforms