Recently in Governance Category

Will 2012 be the Year that convergence finally happens?

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The rise of the smart-phone as the global social networking and on-line browsing device of choice has expedited the convergence  of fixed and mobile communications into "ubiquitous broadband" - even in the UK (which went from leader to laggard during the dead-end decade of local loop unbundling). Hence the driving force behind deals which upstage BDUK Broadband policy like that of O2 and Kensington and Westminster  in much that same way that BSkyB upstaged IBA Satellite policy, two decades ago.   

Meanwhile the fragmentation of debate over privacy, surveillance, on-line safety and cyberwarfare continues to complicate the spread of cost-effective information security by design - as opposed to coating that which is inherently insecure with layers of expensive and ineffectual scareware. Will that change as more businesses realise that using the identity chips already embedded in PCs and mobile phones enables identification of the physical device with which they are communicating? The routines are not totally spoof-proof (nothing ever is), but they do enable better, faster, less obtrusive security at lower cost. They also restrict anonymity to those willing to pay for the privilege. I look forward to seeing a converged debate flushing out the hidden agendas of those who wish to see this happen, those who do not, those who wish use all to be uniquely identifiable and those who wish to have multiple on-line personas with different attributes which they can manage separately.  

Rationalising the slew of semi-incompatible Information and Identity Governance proposals

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Tomorrow I am due to help open the first discussion at the ETICA conference in Brussels on bringing together Ethics, Innovation and Politics. I have been piggy-in-the-middle between politicians and techies for over thirty years and believe Ethics entails accepting responsibility for the consequences of our past actions - not evading responsibility because the unexpected has happened or technology has changed.  My first point will therefore be that not only is technology  neutral but that the implications of most of the supposedly emerging technologies were being discussed over twenty years ago, albeit some of the terminology was different.

Have we learned the lessons of past public sector IT failures?

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One of the questions asked by the Public Administration Select Committee is whether we have learned the lessons form past failures. That raises an interesting question as to what those lessons really are. Among the paper that are not readily accessible on-line are the proceedings of the conference organised by PITCOM on the 20th April 1994, with the asistance of members of the Public Accounts Committee on "The Proper Conduct of Public Secotr IT Business". It was attended by nbearly a hundred of the heads of IT across the publics and almost none of their suppliers - although the latter were invited. It was followed up by an exercise involving over 40 of the heads of IT to summarise the "best practice" of the day, working via a special interst group of the IDPM (now IMIS). The summary was welcomed by the the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commitee and the Cabinet Office Mnister with responsibility - and ignored. It is, however, worth reading, beginning with the cover letter:

Freedom of Information (and Wikileaks) v. Censorship (and Established Power)

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The reaction to the Wikileaks story exposes the heady mixture of self-delusion that passes for debate on freedom of information, transparency of government, re-use of public information, secure data sharing, data protection, information assurance, information security, information risk management and even net neutrality. I am waiting for the rumours that the Wikileaks was assisted by the Chinese, Indian or Isreali governments - or a coalition of all three. It was also an accident waiting to happen, given the US approach to "secure information sharing" after 9/11.

ID Wars: the slaughter of the not so innocents

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I welcome the cull of public sector ID systems and the plans to merge the many Whitehall working parties to one, focussed on rationalising the systems used to identify those working in the public sector and its supply chains, including defence contractors. I am much more cautious about plans to couple this to the US drive for a common NATO approach, lest the limited applicatiblity of this approach is much better recognised but its proponents than currently appears to be the case.

 

There is a massive gulf between Central Government approaches to ID and the private sector (especially finance). The former are intended primarily to support national security, taxation, conscription and border control. The latter have several millennia of experience (over a century electronic) into keeping the transactions safe from local warlords (alias National Governments). Meanwhile Local Government is concerned mainly with local services to local voters.

 

The Semantic Web - Is It Worth It? (A guest blog)

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I have watched attempts to produce automated means of tracking and tracing the provenance of on-line data for well over a decade - as a succession of snake-oil salesmen have tried to persuade naive users and politicians that their mash-up tools will turn an "on-line waste tip of unvalidated government data files" into something more than e-slurry.

I had hoped to have a speaker on progress with the Semantic Web at the recent "Uncovering the truth" workshop on data quality organised by the Information Society Alliance (EURIM) and the Audit Commission because I had long thought it provides part of the "answer". 

However Sean Barker has suggested that it is the little more than latest excuse for not applying traditional data standards: an expensive academic exercise that will led no-where. I therefore asked him to do a "guest blog". I will not comment further and await your comments.

Labour trump Tories on Broadband: game over or just beginning?

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In a surprisingly detailed speach yesterday the Prime Minister apparently leapfrogged two of the three Conservative commitments on broadband. Do read the full text. He linked the Government agendas on cutting the cost of public service delivery, social inclusion and universal broadband and said that government must plan and lead because the market had failed. Today Ofcom delivered the coup de grace, by stating that BT must open its ducts to its competitors thus addressing the third Conservative commitment. Does that mean that the game is over or just beginning?      

Drowning in Data Slurry as the "pipes" clog and burst

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The HMG actions to put more of its information on-line at data.gov.uk are surprisingly modest compared to today's hype. They are right to be so. THere are major issues to do with the accuracy of much of the data on their files, The Audit Commission and the Information Society Alliance (EURIM) are organising a round table on February 22nd on the quality of public sector information and the actions needed to ensure that much more of it is "fit for purpose".    

Is Statutory Internet Regulation inevitable?

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In his introductory comments to the Parliament and the Internet Conference today, Ed Richards seemed to think that the transition of Ofcom from a Broadcast to an Internet regulator was inevitable, as content and viewing habits moved across, albeit it raised many questions of practicality.

Your opportunity to help clean up the Internet

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The domain name structure is at the heart of the Internet - including of the fights against spam, malware, electronic impersonation et al. Nominet is to be congratulated on the scale and nature of its current consultation exercise.

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Electronic Security is the previous category.

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