Recently in Responsbility Category

Good Data for Good Government - and plans for the Universal Credit

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Last night Stephen Timms addressed the IT Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. His audience was a mix of IT and Accounting Professionals, including members of the Chartered Institute of Taxation. Readers of this blog will know my concerns over the implementation plans for the Universal Credit but I have focussed on those of DWP. In the course of his speech Stephen, as a former Financial Secretary to the Treasury and sometime IT professional, took an equally cool look at the HMRC side of the project: the plans for Real Time Information on PAYE and their effect on small firms and their willingness to employ staff who might well be on the margins of employment - those who the Universal Credit is intended to help into the world of work.

 

I do not agree with all that he said. You would be surprised if I did. But I do recommend that you read his word in full (see below) particularly his comments on where the blame should lie - with those who told ministers they could deliver the impossible (that is my rewording of what he said more politely).  I personally believe that applies even more to the external consultants and suppliers paid to supplement the skills of officials who knew they were out of their depth.   

 

But that is enough from me. Thank you to Stephen for permission to reproduce his words in full.


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Is DWP herding the vulnerable on-line, to be fleeced ?

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Next week will see the 2012 National Digital Conference with over a thousand delegates exploring "the policy, leadership, innovation and collective action needed to support an inclusive and enterprising digital nation". The state of current debates over electronic identities and payment mechanisms, let alone of those over data protection, privacy and security, indicates that inclusion and innovation will be almost the last things in the minds of those seeking to herd the sheep on-line to be fleeced. Whether the fleecing is to be done by the purveyors of technology, regulatory or compliance snake oil or by local and global organised crime, no-one appears to be giving priority to quality of service to paying customers. 

One of those planning to attend the National Digital Conference sent me the following guest blog. I have changed the heading from his original "Please sign here - but not at the Post Office." and put his message into political context, but it is stark

The DWP has, whether by accident or design, created a situation whereby some of the most  vulnerable in society, with least access to reliable on-line services (if they could see or manage the dexterity to use them) are no longer able to use their local Post Office, where they can deal with staff they know and who know them, but must travel miles to a Paypoint  to use a less secure service. In rural areas, with few buses and expensive taxis, the increase in cost and the deterioration in quality of life flies unnecessarily in the face of declared government policy. Worse, it will be blamed, unjustly, on current ministers and their enthusiasm for using new technology to deliver better service at lower cost. 


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Hangover cure: The Micro Men repeat - OTT but fun

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I thoroughly enjoyed the repeat of Micro Men on BBC4 and have just read some of the reviews and comments made when it first came out. I was annoyed by the OTT portrayal of Clive Sinclair, albeit the vignette of the Mensa groupies does not do justice to some of the drop-dead gorgeous redheads who clustered round him at the party he hosted that night. Perhaps the biggest "slander" is, however, the portrayal of their long-suffering bank manager

Surgery for the rotten heart of the Internet?

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Today was the deadline for comment on the ICANN consultation  on the Initial Report on Fast Flux Hosting. This is the "technology" used by spammers, phishers, botnet herders, denial of service extortionists and cyberwarfare practioners around the world. It also has some, but not that many and decreasing, legitimate uses. ICANN meets in London next week to discuss what comes next.  

Do Digital Diapers Deter Data Diarrhoea?

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The shut down of the Government Gateway after an apparent compromise may influence your response to the NHS consultation on other uses of oatient data, on which I blogged on Friday. It should not. There is whole array of privacy enhancing technologies that can be used to prevent such failures. The problem is not hardware or software. "Its the wetware stupid".

Data incontinence needs potty training not just e-nappies

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The Economist report on the Future of Information Governance puts debate on the power of information, data protection, surveillance and retention into business context but stops short. We have crossed a watershed.The electronic equivalent of nappies on every end-user system and rubber sheets under every bed of corporate servers may have been very lucrative for suppliers and consultants but is no longer sustainable     

Recycling personal data as "aid" to Africa

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The current turmoil will lead to redundant corporate workstations and laptops being sold cheap or donated for charitable purposes. Computer Aid cleanses systems to the highest standards, using routines certified by CESG. Others do not - thus providing a source of potential earnings that will more than make up for any drop in cash donations

Who do you trust to rebuild confidence in the on-line world?

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The Data Sharing Review from Richard Thomas and Mark Walport brings a breath of fresh air to a feotid debate. Now comes the campaign to prevent the recommendations from being obfuscated and watered down by those who do well out of the current confusion as well as those making serious money from the acquisition, aggregation and resale of personal data without informed consent, let alone choice, on the part of the subject. . 

How do we rebuild trust in the on-line world - not just Government?

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The messages in the Cabinet Office, HMRC, IPCC and MoD reports and recommendations released on 25th June will keep security experts occupied years. But the responses to the recommendations of recent Parliamentary reports and its own Independent Reviewer, raise far wider questions.

Another day, another laptop lost

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Recent repots of laptops lost by doctors stolen from hospitals appear to indicate that medical records on personal computers are less secure today than when the NCC Microsystems Centre tested six systems under contract from the DTI over 20 year years ago. Why? 

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