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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Friday, April 27, 2007

    ID Cards: Some good(ish) news

    The E-Government Bulletin reports that uncertainty about government plans of ID cards is delaying progress on citizen-focused services. In Home Office Must Decide On ID Cards, Expert Warns the Bulletin reports on a meeting of the Parliamentary IT Committee (Pitcom). It seems that what I've been concerned here about for some time is "identity management" - the good news (I would suggest) is that a lack of focus in government are unwittingly delaying progress, and "may even have damaged it".

    While government allows the scope of the ID card scheme to creep toward new functionality, the private sector has been waiting for government to make up its mind. All of which results, I suppose, in the kind of chaos reported on by me here and by The Register.

    Pitcom heard that:
    A nationally agreed approach to identity management could support a model of information sharing where the citizen acts as a gatekeeper to their own personal data, choosing to grant access to other individuals, organisations, and state bodies as he or she sees fit, the meeting heard. This could be one of the building blocks of more citizen-focused services, said Toby Stevens, managing director of the Enterprise Privacy Group, a cross-sector organisation focused on sharing best practice in identity management.
    This is precisely what I and many members of a panel of 'citizens' were asking for in the consultation exercise that took place for the then Lord Chancellor's Office in 2003. Given that the delay is no more nor less than a delay, we have to accept that this government will bring in ID cards and a National Identity Register (NIR) eventually. But it is our data and we need to take ownership of it, or "we might find ourselves with something that doesn’t serve the public sector well," as Toby Stevens said. And certainly something that doesn't serve the public well.

    If NIR and ID Cards can be put in place in conjunction with and ONLY in conjunction with) a technology infrastructure that supports their functionality, and if it can be done in a way which allows each of us to oversee the accuracy of our own data the scheme might even work. It might even work to everyone's advantage.

    But only 'if'.

    I wonder what sway the Enterprise Privacy Group hold...

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