April 2011 Archives

(Ex)terminated by (un)ethical review - or Death by Data Protection revisited

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I recently relayed some of the discussions at the ETICA conference (to which I referred to in my recent blog ) to a senior medical consultant. At the conference we had been given an example of where a "medical ethics" committee had delayed a research project by 18 month as it pondered whether a file of anonymised medical data could be used to test a ground-breaking "proof of concept" modelling exercise to improve mass diagnosis.

Over dinner he commented bitterly about ethics committees dominated by those who had never had to exercise clinical judgement. Then the phone rang and he left the table (stone sober because he had been on call) to face one such situation.

The best contribution to the ETICA conference came from Dr Alma Whitten (privacy engineering lead for Google). Do read her evidence to the US Senate on Consumer Online Privacy.     

Deadline today (yes Easter Monday!) for DWP Data Sharing Consultation

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I am spending the Bank Holiday day working through my heap (instead of stick in a traffic jam) and came across the e-mail we sent to the EURIM memebers interested in Public Service Delivery and Informaiton Governance on the DWP consultation on its "data sharing" powers with Local Authorities. It was this consultation that brought home to me the importance of subjecting the drip drip drip of such fragmented consultations (from both Westminster and Brussels) to joined up scrutiny. I had, however, forgotten that DWP were so serious about obtaining inputs from their target audience (Local Authorities) that they set the Bank Holiday at the start of the Royal Wedding week as the deadline for responaes.

What identities do you trust in the on-line world - and why?

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The Register recently carreed news that some of the main processes used to secure major on-line systems are not only under systemic attack but have already been compromised. This calls in question assumptions behind current plans to increase reliance on supposedly secure electronic identities. Last month I am helped open a discussion (sponsored by the European Commission) on the ethical and political issues posed by technology innovation and used the opportunity to trail some of the issues that should be addressed in the planned EURIM study on Information and Identity Governance.

Procurement in the Big Information Society

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It is sad to see the Computer press terminating paper based publications. Meanwhile, as the Internet slows down, clogged with video and music streaming, the influence rich, time poor, appear to be switching off. This poses interesting problems for those who really do wish to communicate messages to decision-takers and budget-holders. I have been asked to make available an easy-to-find on-line version of my article on the Procurement Challenges faced by central government which was published in the penultimate issue of Govenment Computing , so that it can be linked to by those who wish to build on some of the messages via Tweets and Facebook and LinkedIn messages. I cannot find it on-line so I have used the original unedited text - which I assume is my own copyright, because I cannot remember signing anything which gave it away. .   


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