Tuesday 8 September 2015

Assisted dying the digital way with a core consent delegation management repository

Guess what this is:

Transaction Date Transaction Type Merchant/Description
31-12-2014 GDS ***********************************************
30-12-2014 BIS ********************************
01-12-2014 GDS ***********************************************
01-12-2014 GDS ******************************
31-10-2014 GDS **********
30-10-2014 BIS ************************
30-09-2014 GDS ***************************
30-09-2014 GDS ************************
08-09-2014 BIS ***********************************************
04-09-2014 BIS ***********************************************

Give up?

Here's a clue:
In 1621, King James I directed the Privy Council to establish a temporary committee to investigate the causes of a decline in trade and consequent financial difficulties. 394 years later, the temporary committee is still with us, currently known as the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

In November 2011, nearly four years ago, BIS promised us midata, an initiative which was supposed to empower us consumers by giving us control over our own data.

"midata is about giving the public more control and access to their personal data. There are potentially endless possibilities", BIS told us and proceeded to list 10 of them starting with "midata could help you manage your returns and warranties".

It's not just returns and warranties. "midata also creates opportunities for new markets to develop where businesses help consumers use their data to make better consumption decisions and lifestyle choices". If only we consumers would agree to keep all our data up to date in a personal data store (PDS), then apps created by entrepreneurs in these burgeoning markets could process it and tell us what to do. Say goodbye to illogical decisions.

It's arrant nonsense of course. Not even Narcissus has the time or the inclination to "curate" himself, as they call it, by keeping his PDS up to date. There's no-one left on the planet stupid enough to hand over their personal data to an on-line stranger – think Ashley Madison. And this control BIS were talking about. Control over your personal data. Once you've handed the data over, you've got no control. You've lost it and it's not in BIS's gift to give it back to you.

A number of major suppliers including DMossEsq's bank had to humour BIS. No point upsetting a central government department. Play along. But there are limits. These suppliers have to make sure that their customers aren't harmed by midata. That's a practical matter of reputational survival. Any customer who suffers from midata is going to blame the bank, not James I.

And so they came up with the useless data shown in the opening table above*. DMossEsq clicked midata on his on-line banking service and, after reams of warnings not to show the data to anyone, the bank served up the last year's transactions on one of his little-used accounts.

You will note that DMossEsq received £2,953.17 from ************************ on 30 September last year and that he spent £185.57 with *********************************************** on 1 December. Whether he got a warranty isn't clear. Try making a logical decision based on that.

You can probably forget about the midata initiative now.

But the desire to get people to fill up a PDS with all their personal data and then pay a stranger to use it lives on.

In gradually more and more perverse ways.

The latest of which is exemplified by our old friends Mydex, who now advocate PDSs as an aid to considerate death, Personal empowerment means addressing the consent challenges we all face: "If transaction-based consent persists, what's needed is the ability to take a feed from each site's transactional processes that automatically drops every ticked consent box into the individual's core consent delegation management repository, part of their personal data store".


* Dozens of transactions are not shown in the table, it's just an extract from DMossEsq's midata report. The transaction dates have been changed. So have the transaction types and the debit/credit amounts, with the balances updated accordingly. The merchant/description details have not been changed – that's exactly how they appear, as a variable number of asterisks.

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