Thursday, 31 May 2012

Some food for the thoughts of Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Philip Johnston – midata/BIS

Wired magazine carried an article yesterday by Alan Mitchell promising that Personal data stores will liberate us from a toxic privacy battleground.

Alan Mitchell, you will remember, is the strategy director of Ctrl-Shift, a consultancy retained by the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to work on their midata initiative. William Heath is a non-executive director of Ctrl-Shift. Alan Mitchell and William Heath are the founders of Mydex, a company bidding to supply personal data stores in the UK, thereby supposedly liberating us from a toxic privacy battleground.

Mr Mitchell did not find space in his article to mention any of that background but he did, quite properly, emphasise that personal data stores are only recommended if the individuals who use them to disseminate their personal data are guaranteed to have control over how that data is used.

We do not currently have that control. It doesn't exist. It might do in the future but it doesn't exist now. Ctrl-Shift's strategy therefore depends on something indistinguishable from unicorns, which also don't exist. From that point of view, Ctrl-Shift has a strategy problem.

Wired magazine describe Mr Mitchell as "a strategic advisor to the UK Government's Midata project". By the same token, the UK Government therefore has a strategy problem. midata can't work. It depends on something which doesn't exist.

Given which, why do BIS continue to pursue it?

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