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« The DNS of the industrial bourgeoisie | Main | What a cunning stunt »

Balancing security and privacy, part 97

By Dave Birch posted Oct 27 2009 at 6:41 PM

[Dave Birch] I popped along to a City Forum round table on the Information Intensive Society. I was late, because of public transport, so I didn't hear the chairman say that we were to stick to the Chatham House rule. As a consequence I started twittering what people were saying, as well as posting a picture! I apologise unreservedly -- but the medium really is the message, isn't it? Anyway, the subtitle for the meeting was "balancing security and privacy", which I think framed the whole discussion the wrong way: the subtitle should have been "obtaining security and privacy". I don't want them balanced, I want them both: this is what, to me, marks the difference between these debates in the "old" context and the "new" context.

I think this is why I found the discussion unsatisfying -- and I don't mean this as a criticism of the event, or of the organisers, even though one of the speakers actually did say "the Internet is the future". The problem is that there is a kind of assumption that privacy is an enemy of security and anyone who advocates more privacy is mutant commie scum (didn't you used to play Paranoia?). If you put forward any alternative view, then it is answered with the old "well, if you knew what I knew blah blah" and the debate goes nowhere.

On another topic, Speaker X said that the security doesn't sell to the consumer, and I'm sure he is right. (Oddly, he talked about the strategy for Digital Britain, which as far as I know says nothing interesting about security or privacy and contains a completely rubbish "goal" for the UK of an internet that is FIVE HUNDRED TIMES SLOWER than our global competitors.) He also said that the government lacks a macro-strategy on security (he called the national cybersecurity strategy a "minor recalibration"). I have to say I agree with his analysis.

So what should that the macro-strategy be, as least so far as it applies to identity? I wonder if it might make a sensible, explicit goal for Digital Britain to say that everyone in the UK must have, by 2012, a digital identity that they can use to access e-government and e-business services? This seems more useful than saying that they must have an identity card that they can use for...

"Benefits of the credit-card sized document include travel within the EU and a national proof-of-age card." a Home Office spokesperson commented.

[From Tories: ID cards need 28m sign-ups to break even - ZDNet.co.uk]

I'd rather have something that I could use to log on to HMRC and eBay, but I guess I must be in a minority.

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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