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« Interdisciplinary ideas | Main | Doctoring the evidence »

Isn't this stuff serious?

By Dave Birch posted Jul 10 2009 at 7:04 PM

[Dave Birch] OK, so I'm in a tiny minority but I think that security and privacy are important. I think that the state of security and privacy in the digital world demand a proper strategy, of which some form of digital identity infrastructure is a critical part. That's why I'm always glad to see the government appointing people to tackle the difficult issues around the technology infrastructure that our future depends on. When I was googling something else, I discovered that Paul Murphy is Britain's "Minister for Digital Inclusion". This is a real post, not something I made up for the blog. In addition to pottering about at UK online centres (of which there are 6,000 in the U.K.!) his brief includes "data security and information assurance". Imagine my surprise, then, when I read that:

Paul Murphy states that he is "not a technical person".

[From Minister for Digital Inclusion gets Strategic - Convergence Conversation]

Shouldn't we get someone who is?

Why it is considered acceptable to have senior policy makers who have no technological background? Never mind the two cultures and all that -- and Bill Thompson's stimulating session about this at Opentech 2009 -- how can the government make any progress on "Digital Britain" when the decision makers are all PPEs and lawyers? There is a real problem in the fractal world of identity, and the complexity of real identity problems and real identity solutions is far beyond the supposed common sense approach. We do not have one identity in all circumstances, we can prove things about ourselves without proving who we are, and so on. But we have to find ways to communicate this. If we don't, we'll end up with nonsense like this:

A new electronic sites law is being reviewed and drafted by the Jordanian Parliament which requires website administrators to provide their site's passwords to the government's Printing and Publication Directorate.

[From Global Voices Online ยป Jordan: MPs Drafting a Law which requires Website Passwords]

If we don't want to end up with systems that are

flawed, contemptuous of individual needs and entirely pointless.

[From Henry Porter: The horror of the ID card system | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk]

As I keep saying, I am not harping on about this kind of thing because I am negative. On the contrary. I want a national identity management infrastructure. But I want one that recognises what technology can do, and to achieve that I want to engage with policy makers that can too.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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Blair always said he didn't understand e-mail.

Most of the cabinet probably don't get maths either.

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