Regaining Public Trust in e-Government Services

The British Computer Society have just published details of an interesting survey of UK citizen’s views on e-Government services. You can guess the outcome. Not surprisingly there is high concern about public sector management of sensitive citizen data.

Is this a setback for e-Government? Yes, but it’s not an unexpected one. In the face of increasing threats and growing impacts, it’s always been necessary for all government service providers to keep raising their security game. However, in the absence of hard evidence of future trends, increases in budgets and resources are automatic. Instead we have to play a reactive game.

Fortunately, most reactions to major issues and incidents overstate the response. So the next step should – fingers crossed – be a welcome step change in security assurance.

We need to start with better leadership in presenting the facts. In fact we’re already seeing this in Sir James Crosby’s recent report on Identity Assurance. Then we must focus on measures to transform the culture and tighten the governance for guardianship of sensitive citizen data. That’s the harder bit.

The BCS have recently set out the measures required to achieve prudent data guardianship. They demand attention to accountability, visibility, consent, access and stewardship of personal data. In my view they should place a little more emphasis on security. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Building public confidence in e-Government is a major challenge. And it will be achieved. Because the pressure will continue to mount until we get there.

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