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Today, electronic government not only means to provide information for citizens on the Web, but handle their requests for legal decisions online. Although this might primarily be seen as a technical revolution, it is argued here that this change potentially has major effects on the current legal architecture of administrative procedure as a whole, thereby generating social and political questions that should not be underestimated, since even constitutional and civil rights are touched by this process. It is the purpose of this paper to explore these effects and answer the question to what extent arising problems can be solved on a technical level, and where additional legislative measures should be taken. Although these observations begin with a focus on European and in particular Austrian law, the paper will elaborate on those legal aspects common to most western democracies. By analyzing the legal basis of administrative procedure as well as technical aspects of systems already being implemented, critical issues are identified and suggestions are made on how to avoid these pitfalls.
Date of Conference: 6-9 Jan. 2003