Monday 14 November 2011

WrinklesInTheMatrix: ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken 1

The Cabinet Office want everyone to transact with government over the web.

In order to do so, the government must know who everyone is. That means everyone needs an electronic identity.

Mindful of the humiliating failure of the Home Office's identity cards scheme, the Cabinet Office have asked the private sector to devise an identity assurance service. An identity assurance service that is absolutely nothing like the Home Office scheme with its national identity register and its biometrics.

Someone has been spoiling the Cabinet Office's fun by pointing out that we already have a way to transact with government over the web, using the UK Government Gateway.

Too old-fashioned, they say, we must have a modern gateway.

And as if to prove it, the Cabinet Office have hired ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken to be executive director of government digital services and SRO of the identity assurance programme. (Keep up at the back – senior responsible owner.)

Boy. Is he ever modern. He ran the Guardian website until six months ago. He uses Apple laptops. And Google Apps. Which means Google, Julian Assange and the Chinese will all know about the identity assurance programme before we the public do.

Anyway, he's not having any of this cobwebby old Government Gateway nonsense. He says in his latest blog, Establishing trust in digital services:
... the UK assumed the federated model in the Electronic Communication Act (2000) and built the Government Gateway accordingly. But a lot has moved on in the dozen years since Government Gateway was developed and we have a lot of work to do to develop solutions that work for users in the many contexts that they’ll need them.
You may not grasp all the detail – he's talking about the federated model of identity management, not a United States of Europe – but you get the gist, "a lot has moved on", the Government Gateway is oldsville.

Why do we need to move on? Why is there a lot of work to do? Because:
There is a strong desire to work collaboratively across the public and private sectors to develop solutions that meet users differing needs. That desire is international. The USA’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace and the EU Project STORK pilots testify to the opportunities.
Now here's a wrinkle – if you click on that Project STORK link of his to see which opportunities are testified to, what's the first thing you see?
The aim of the STORK project is to establish a European eID Interoperability Platform that will allow citizens to establish new e-relations across borders, just by presenting their national eID.
"eID" in STORKspeak is electronic identity, and not the famous festival of the same name. Bit of a clanger for ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken, that – "national eID" takes us straight back to identity cards and national identity registers.

But this time it's double wrinkle because what's the only thing everyone (else) knows about Project STORK? It's a pan-European project to share personal and business information and the UK leg of Project STORK is ... yes ... the Government Gateway.


Updated 16.7.17

Nearly six years after the blog post above was written:
  • The Government Digital Service (GDS) is still there.
  • The Government Gateway is still there.
  • The Cabinet Office's identity assurance programme still isn't.
  • Mike Bracken is long gone.
  • And STORK (or at least eIDAS) is still there, please see GDS backs pilot to test digital identity for banking across borders, 12 July 2017:
    The Government Digital Service (GDS) is a member of a consortium of leading European private and public sector organisations which has said it will start a pilot into the use of a citizen’s national digital identity from France to open a bank account in the UK.
Sublimely nostalgic for old-timers, it is not six years but nearly 10 since the EU's eGovernment website published:
EU/UK: EU pilot to boost compatibility of eID kicks off in the UK, 15 October 2007

The ultimate goal of the STORK project is to implement an EU-wide interoperable system for the recognition and authentication of eIDs [electronic identities] that will enable businesses, citizens and government employees to use their national eIDs in any Member State. Once established, this would significantly facilitate migration between Member States, allowing easy access to a variety of eGovernment services including, for example, social security, medical prescriptions and pension payments. It could also ease cross-border student enrolment in colleges ...

The UK’s Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is leading the pilot project, in close co-operation with the Government Gateway, the UK’s centralised registration service. “It is about the eventual pan-European recognition of electronic IDs,” noted an IPS spokesperson.
UK progress during those 10 years?

1 comment:

Don't Tax Don't Spend said...

If ever there was a phrase to freeze the blood, it's "a strong desire to work collaboratively across the public and private sectors". Why is it only confirmed lefties who think that muddying the pure crystal stream that should run between the two sectors is, like, a really great, forward-looking, cutting edge idea? They should be ruthlessly separated, because the public sector is inevitably a big plump hen to the private sector's ruthless, cunning, deadly fox. The whole of Whitehall is one enormous hen coop to private companies, where they can gorge and feast to their heart's content on our money - and never be called to account!

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