we need a Digital Charter to protect your data (Wired UK)

Houses of Parliament
Houses of ParliamentShutterstock

Labour MP Jon Cruddas has called for a Digital Charter
that will help the public trust the government with its data. Cruddas, who is
heading up Labour’s policy review, told the audience at the
Institute for Government today: “Digital government won’t give
people more control over their lives unless it’s trusted with
citizen’s data. Right now, it’s not proving itself worthy of that
trust. There are too many mishaps and too much

A Digital Charter, he argued, would “protect individuals and
establish their rights over their own data and digital identity”.
Its three core principles would be open data, digital democracy and
digital inclusion.

Sharing data between government services and institutions would
go a long way in streamlining and cutting costs. However, trusting
the government with that task is another matter. “Get this right,”
argues Cruddas, “and we can make a simple offer to everyone — if
you’ve already told one bit of government something about you, you
shouldn’t need to tell any other bit of government the same thing.
And we can balance that with a simple promise — no bit of
government will get access to the data you’ve given without your
explicit consent.”

The latter point is perhaps the most important one. It was NHS
England’s failure to communicate the privacy terms of Care.data, a system that
would sync national Health and Social Care Information Centre
databases with hospital data to improve treatment and research,
that ultimately led to it being taken back to the drawing

A digital revolution has been at the heart of the rhetoric
surrounding Cruddas’ revision of Labour’s policies. And at the
Institute for Government he took the opportunity to reiterate his
hopes for the future, and how he thinks we might get there.

In doing so, he argued that there’s never been a better time to
kickstart the digital revolution — largely, because we’re

“Amazon and Google did not start with billion-pound budgets,” he
said. “They started small and cheap. They ran fast, and they proved
their value as they grew. In technology a shortage of budget spurs
innovation. A new model of government should do the same.”

“With the size of spending cuts to come we literally cannot
afford the status quo.”

He seemed to suggest the UK government needs to behave, at its
core, very much like a startup. When it comes to having a fully
digital civil service and administrative engine, he suggests the
new digital-savvy employees be allowed to: “Try a new feature,
watch and see what happens. Rapid, small steps of change. If it
works, use it. If it doesn’t, think again. Put the front-line staff
and the people who use the services in control. Services will get
designed by people who actually work on them and use them.”

This all sounds fairly logical of course, but it’s also part of
a wider rhetoric around social inclusion and Labour being generally
chummy with the public. Cruddas emphasised this by talking about
the further devolution of powers. But touching on how that will
impact the Government Digital Services, Cruddas said: “Birmingham
could run the pan-UK digital platform for social care, Manchester
planning, Swansea motoring, Newcastle tax, Liverpool pensions.”

He wants public services to be “more responsive” and deliver
“substantial cost savings”, and called for “shared platforms for
local government for collaboration of local services and agencies,
and data sharing”.

“Digital reform means human-scale communities in control of
their own services, continually able to make small, focused
improvements. Collaborating to save duplication.”

Cruddas also flagged up two facets of Labour’s plan for the
future which have already been very much part of the agenda while
the Conservatives have been in power — open data, and digital
inclusion, meaning digital literacy for all and a more transparent
government that is held accountable and shares data. Along with
digital democracy, Cruddas cites these as the core elements of a
Digital Charter.

These are all words, of course — a speech carefully balancing
the startup buzzwords with Labour’s own ones. And there is no new
concrete plan that we can see from Cruddas’ speech about a
potential Digital Charter which would surely be at the core of all
the proposals being successful. The speech was, of course, also
dotted with critiques of the state of play. However, rather than
spending the entire time slamming the opposition, Cruddas largely
spoke about how UK politics as a whole needs a makeover, hitting on
the apathy of the country. And he did not use digital as a cure-all
for the state of the state, but as a means of accelerating a state
of government that is more connected with its people.

“The British State was designed in an industrial age of mass
production and mass administration,” he said. “It is no longer fit
for purpose in this digital age of real-time innovation, cloud
computing, and rising popular expectations for rapid service

“Digital technology alone will not create a fairer society. It
will not shape public services to individual need. It is how we
harness technology that matters. We can create a more democratic
and connected society, or we can allow it to lead to a more
authoritarian, contact-less world.”

If the article suppose to have a video or a photo gallery and it does not appear on your screen, please Click Here

27 November 2014 | 3:08 pm – Source: wired.co.uk


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.