New CPS paper lays out possible Conservative ID policy

Centre-right think tank the Centre for Policy Studies has published a new paper that sets out a vision for IT policy under a Conservative government. Written by technologist and Conservative counsellor Liam Maxwell, the central theme of “It’s Ours – Why we, not the government, must own our data” is a transition away from current policy of large, centralised databases towards more empowered individuals who retain control of information in smaller, user-centric applications.

The paper isn’t just about ID cards or data ownership, but explores issues of procurement with an argument for greater use of open source software and better opportunities for SMEs to contribute to government IT. Arguing that the continued reliance on a small number of major suppliers fails to create a constructive competitive tension, the report calls for major projects to be broken down into chunks no bigger than £100m in a single procurement.

In an interview with Government Computing, Maxwell also reflects on the central theme of data ownership. “It’s my choice, it’s my data. The government thinks it owns the data. It’s like Amazon coming to me and saying ‘I own your data’, but they don’t, I allow them to access my data to send me the stuff when I buy it. That ownership of data will be the key change in the structure of public services in the future, we hope.’

Conservative thinking on IT doesn’t appear to be fully joined-up yet; for example, there’s still confusion about what our ICAO commitments on passports really are, and no coherent policy on ID beyond ‘no ID cards’ – but this is a valuable step towards a formal IT strategy for the Tories.