That article refers to a "recent speech" made by Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister. Neither the Guardian nor the Cabinet Office identifies the speech. A little detective work suggests that it is Mr Maude's keynote speech given to the Information Commissioner's Conference on 6 March 2012. That, at least, is the assumption on which we proceed here.
If the Leveson Rules are to look like anything more than the whimsical exercise of power by the Executive then perhaps we could see a few guidelines on identifying the evidence in disputes more precisely.
In his speech, Mr Maude says:
It follows that the claim made in the L Notice that "this is not a question of increasing the volume of data-sharing that takes place across government" is simply untenable – the Guardian didn't misrepresent Whitehall's policy.
The L Notice states that because the coalition government "scrapped ID cards" they can't be accused of attempting to legislate for a "database state". That doesn't follow. Mr Maude's proposal to remove the legal barriers to data-sharing – also referred to as "old-fashioned assumptions", "cultural barriers", "complexities" and "muddled myths" – would precisely result in a database state. As Mr Maude says:
Same effect. A database state.
... the technology has moved on and so can we. There is now an option to share data momentarily allowing us to check for matches – with no Big Brother database in sight ... In a world of dispersed data sets, we can bring fragments together instantaneously and momentarily to corroborate – without ever creating a central database ... It’s about bringing together the data at a point in time - to provide the necessary confidence - and then disaggregating it again. At no point does information need be held on the same server to be correlated ...
The L Notice is entitled Digital public services: putting the citizen in charge, not the state. It is not clear why. Mr Maude's speech provides no support whatever for that contention – nothing in the speech suggests that citizens will be put in charge.
Examination of the evidence suggests that the Guardian misreported nothing and that the L Notice is simply wrong.
Sometimes, though, you need to stand back, otherwise you can't see the wood for the trees, the issues need to be judged on principle, and all things considered, particularly the need for the Guardian to keep its Leveson Publication Licence, the ineluctable conclusion must be that the case stated in the L Notice is upheld and triumphantly vindicated, and Mr Travis should perhaps undergo a brief and voluntary period of re-education to assist him in his stated desire to practise his chosen profession respectfully and humbly.
Post a Comment