A quick recap of some of my recent CIO columns.
Making a success of digital government (October 2016)
Part 5 of the Digital Economy Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, focuses on “Digital Government”. The policy objective is important: to make better use of data to improve public services.
However, to do this it proposes “data sharing” – letting officials and organisations share citizens’ personal data with others, even if citizens don’t provide their permission or consent. This organisation-centric approach conflicts with the desire to put citizens in control of their own data (as set out, for example, in the government’s Technology Code of Practice).
Trusting Brexit Britain – a chance to reboot the broken model of personal data security (September 2016)
A bit like Dr Dolittle’s pushmi-pullyu, government presents two heads when it comes to data security, neither able to agree with the other. Despite the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) warning about the security risks of holding bulk personal data, many government departments and agencies are keen to use such data in the hope that doing so will somehow magically improve public services.
The idea of acquiring and mining our personal data has become pervasive, fuelling the relentless growth of numerous “free” commercial services – despite cultivating in its wake a massive growth in online fraud. Now governments are keen to play Mini-Me to the data-invasive commercial corporates.
Technology we can trust – everyone working in the tech sector requires security expertise (August 2016)
I was talking at a cyber security seminar a few weeks ago when another speaker announced they were going to reveal one of the biggest lessons they had learned about security over the past few years.
I sat up. What was this exciting fresh insight going to be?
The big lesson was this: the speaker announced it was important to think about security up front. Awkward; one of those tumbleweed moments. Presumably before this “discovery” they’d been busy banging out code and cobbling together systems without much thought for security engineering.
Technology’s role in the future economic and social wellbeing of the UK (July 2016)
The IT industry’s obsession with jargon has long tottered on the verge of Grammelot – the satirical gibberish language developed by travelling troubadours and minstrels in medieval times, and popularised through the works of the playwright Dario Fo.
Today it seems to have toppled drunkenly over that verge. Every repeated empty soundbite discredits and tarnishes our industry, from “blockchain” (solving all known problems in the world) to the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (an overused phrase that’s been around since the 1940s, recently dusted off by the World Economic Forum) to corporate exploitation of the poor (sorry, the “sharing economy”) to the new tycoons (oops, “innovators”) such as Uber.