What is driving the evolution of ID policy?

David Moss (No2ID) has just done an interesting posting to my entry on the Return of the Jedi. His assumption appears to be that because national ID cards are dead there is little or no value in using the expertise of IPS to help sort the mess that is Central Government ID policy. Just because a few rotting trees have been felled does not mean that there is light in the jungle. There is whole mass of dead wood still to be cleared as well as a carpet of weeds vying for the oxygen of publicity.  

Meanwhile we can assume that Local Government will seek to move towards residents’ databases and smart cards, as are common across most of the developed world, as a means of taking out cost at the same time as.improving services for long stay residents and deterring non-taxpaying incomers. If they do so by contracting with the private sector to piggyback on existing systems they may be able to do so on positive cash flow. 

My reply to David was that all programmes without a direct business benefit are likely to get the chop. That should to include most of Whitehall’s competing ID systems and databases – with the survivors, hopefully the best, being “encouraged” to inter-operate, including to co-operate on cleansing to reduce fraud.

Hence the focus of the Information Society Alliance on Information and Identity Governance – particularly the governance of sharing across boundaries: international (because of all that data held in Seattle, Mountain View and on the “Darknet”) as well as inter-departmental.

Who will drive the process of rationalisations and inter-operation?

Short term – the driver is the need for central and local government to make rapid progress in using shared services to cut out the 70% or more of duplicated effort in this space. It is unclear whether Central or Local government will make the running. I suspect the latter unless those running the silos of state are more interested in moving rapidly to overcome inter-departmental silo suspicion and rivalry that in getting good reitrment packages.

Long term – the most credible driver is the need for the main financial services players to preserve global payment systems. That means they are the only ones with long-term needs, budgets and  expertise.

I assume the attempts by the military (US as well as UK), to take control of the cybersecurity agenda will fail because the banks have bought those who know what they are doing and the techies, seeking to promote spend on new and wizzier solutions, will ultimately follow the follow.

What might change that process? A horrendous terrorist incident or three. There is still time to do the “right thing” to make the austerity Olympics of 2012 as secure and enjoyable as thsoe of 1948, with a return to “the Olympic Spirit” – but the clock is ticking.