Tuesday 8 October 2013

Identity assurance, GDS and HMRC – the tension mounts

Here in the UK, this month is Identity Assurance Month. This is the month that the Government Digital Service have to deliver.

It's the 8th of the month and there's no news. Will we soon be able to alter our tax codes on-line? The tension is mounting.

Are you starting to wilt?

Here's a little mental stimulation to divert you and keep you going.

Public Administration Matriculation Board

October 2013

120 minutes

Candidates should read the attached source document carefully
before attempting the following questions.

Ten years ago, according to the source document, many UK councils/local authorities “welcomed the benefits that online services would bring but equally they mistrusted data security, and feared the ‘big brother’ State”.

The mistrust and the fear still exist and the source document asks “how can councils and their partners allay citizens’ mistrust and fear of Big Brother that have been present for over a decade?”.

Answer the question.
10 marks

(a) “The only way is digital ...” – is that true?
1 mark

(b) “The vision of the European Union’s DG Connect is ‘to make every European digital’ ...” – so what?
1 mark

UK local authorities “have shifted from ‘doing more with less’ to the reality of ‘less with less’ and becoming ‘smarter’ ... it’s about smarter councils leading smarter places, and giving smarter citizens smarter spaces to shape smarter services with you”.

(a) Explain the connection between Lord Brown of Madingley, “more” and “less”.
2 marks

(b) Beginning with the Hayes Smartmodem, trace the history and success of the word “smart” and its cognates as a marketing device over the past 32 years.
5 marks

(c) First we learn that “individuals will drive local councils’ digital transformation”, then it’s “smarter councils” who will be “leading smarter places”. Who is in the driving seat, the council/local authority or the individual/citizen?
2 marks

The more adventurous councils aren’t following Whitehall’s charge towards digital by default – they’ve overtaken it!

(a) In what sense is Whitehall charging towards digital-by-default?
1 mark

(b) The source document is published by Mydex, one of the nation’s eight “identity providers”. As such, Mydex is integral to the Government Digital Service’s Identity Assurance Programme which is in turn integral to digital-by-default. And to midata. Mydex are poking fun at GDS for being overtaken by “the more adventurous councils”. There was no need to do that. Why did they?
1 mark

(c) Will “the [smarter and] more adventurous councils” come to regret their early lead? Will all the stupid timid councils have the last laugh?
1 mark

Mydex is providing the super secure Personal Data Store (PDS) for identity verification that will take the [Wombwell] project to the next level and unlock a myriad of services for this previously off-line, ‘cash in hand’ community”.

Is there any such thing as a “super secure personal data store”?
5 marks

This can ultimately manage demand out of the service” – what does this mean?
2 marks

“How can councils and their partners allay citizens’ mistrust and fear of Big Brother that have been present for over a decade? ... One of the most effective ways is to be more open, and to give control over personal data back to individuals using personal data stores”.

How does storing your personal data on the web, in the cloud, with a third party you've never heard of, give you control over that data?
5 marks

(a) “A personal data store allows for automatic personalisation” – what does this mean? Note that the quotation is taken from the start of a paragraph by the end of which people are having to do their own personalisation, it’s stopped being automatic.
2 marks

(b) “It really changes how the future can be” – what doesn’t?
2 marks

Five times in the source document people are “empowered” by personal data stores. Or are they? Is power actually being relocated in the apps people will depend on? These apps will process the personal data that has been “permissioned” for sharing. Given that even members of the Zuckerberg family who work for the company can’t understand Facebook’s own permissioning system, what chance do the rest of us stand of understanding Mydex’s system? These apps will not be free – how much will dependency cost personal data store owners? These apps are meant to do the jobs currently done by human beings – are public servants inviting redundancy? What is the difference between downloading an app and downloading a virus?
10 marks

Imagine how powerful it would be if by 2020 the 16m people currently off-line or with low on-line skills had developed the digital confidence and trust in digital public services to permission the sharing of their personal data for councils”.

That’s one possible scenario. There are many others.

Briefly describe four more possible scenarios, taking the total to five.

Allocate a probability to each one, giving your reasons.

Under what circumstances would it be logical, businesslike and responsible for either central or local government to spend public money inveigling people and businesses into storing their data with companies they have no reason to trust, on the web, in the cloud, where it will be at the mercy of hackers, GCHQ and the NSA, among others?
20 marks

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