At first sight the ippr report on Open Justice looks attractive. But consider the recommendations in the context of the current lack of security of the systems that will be opened to view and of the technologies that will be used to access them. Yesterday I blogged on the coming fight for control over the Internet between non-Western Governments (via the ITU) and the global cartel of Internet Service Providers (via ICANN and Internet Governance Forum).
Today I had been going to blog on the need to carry forward the work started by EURIM over a year ago to unravel the confusion between Electronic Identities and Digital Signatures.
International law has been clear for over a century on the status of “Ben Bones his mark”: whether it is a smudged thumbprint, a squiggly cross or a signature written in ink, blood or analogue or digital electronic pulses. But we now have a morass of initiatives, industry and government, which muddy rather than clarify the issues.
Then ippr raised the debate over Open Data to a new level of absurdity. Once again we need to refer back to the work done by EURIM over recent years on the issues that have to be addressed before the wet dreams of the enthusiasts turn into Dark Nightmares.
The titles of the sunmmaries of some of the EURIM studies say it all:
As well reported in the Guardian , my successor as Secretary General, Dr Edward Phelps, has echoed my own support for the ideals of Open Government while emphasising the need to improve the professionalism of those managing the process.
The harm done by over-enthusiastic amateurs can be every bit as great as that done by pseudo-professionals who conceal their ignorance and lack of genuine training and experience in cloaks of confidentiality.
The first integrated study to take a look at the potential benefits from the application of IT to police and justice systems was done in the mid-1970s. I may still have a copy in my files somewhere. At the technical level it was very much more impressive than the study I led on the Computing needs of the re-organised Water Industry at the same time. But it had far less impact on subsequent developments because it failed to take account of the politics of implementation. The biggest weakness of the ippr exercise is that it fails to take account of the sophistication of those who make a very good living from corrupting our law enforcement and criminal justice systems.
A Chairman of the Conservative Technology Forum I applaud the breadth of vision. As a former Information Systems professional I deplore the lack of insight.