Thought for the day:E-government is a question of trust

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day. Synchronicity is also known as...

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day. Synchronicity is also known as "acasual coincidence". Like déjà vu, have you ever experienced it? It's what describes the kind of coincidence that has old friends constantly bumping into each other against all the odds.

There's an awful lot of déjà vu in the IT industry but not much synchronicity. I did, however, find an example in the Sunday Times, which reflected what I had been saying in Monday's Thought for the Day about The takeaway economy .

Oracle's Larry Ellison was talking about industry consolidation. His prediction is that one day there will be only three software companies left in the world: Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and, of course, Oracle. The remainder will dwindle and disappear, much as our own home-grown talent has done here in the UK.

Ellison promises to retire when his "Killing Fields" theory of software consolidation becomes self-evident; not long now then Larry?

Ellison, who is never short of a good quote, also told the Sunday Times: "All government systems are a hotchpotch. The information architecture in most countries looks like 15th century Europe - Lots of distributed authority. Horizontal integration will take years".

Given the £6bn size of the Government IT budget, Oracle, like rival Microsoft, is an enthusiastic e-government evangelist.

Whether Europe happens to be stuck in the 15th century is a moot point. Information age government has moved on slowly since the Renaissance but not that slowly.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to accept that e-government has a long way to go before it can prove itself and Ellison is probably right when he predicts that integration will take years. With a multiplicity of systems and software and five million people working in the Government, progress will, I suspect, be rather slower than Blair's 2005 target allows for.

One small detail could however speed the process up and wire up the citizen-government relationship much faster than is likely to happen without it. This small detail is of course the trust relationship between citizen government which is represented by the personal identity card. Other countries are accelerating away from us because their citizens have no objection to carrying an identity card.

Without a national available means of offering such a trust relationship, achieving the e-government targets will remain problematical, so there is an increased interest in government circles in the notion of a personal ID card.

But while most us would I suspect, have no great objection to carrying a citizen ID card as a kind of internal passport, civil liberties groups worry over citizens giving the power and information that would accompany it to the same Government that only last month tried to force through seriously flawed amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act .

What's your view?
Are civil rights threatened by e-government?> Let us know with an e-mail.>>


Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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