Beware of that word ‘transparency’ – it doesn’t mean what you might think
When the UK government talks about ‘transparency’, it means being transparent with our data, not government behaviour. Transparency doesn’t mean telling the people what the government is doing, or providing proof to justify its actions – it means selling the personal information of ordinary people to the highest bidder.
And when it doesn’t have enough personal data it furtively sets about getting more. Like secretly collecting the private communications of everyone. Like planning a national DNA/ID database hidden within the National Health Service.
A year ago, the government asked “Stephan Shakespeare, Chair of the Data Strategy Board and CEO of YouGov, to look at our progress so far on opening up public data and set out his assessment of how the Government should best use PSI [public sector information] to support economic growth… Stephan consulted with leading industry experts, businesses and academics in the field as well as undertaking a comprehensive market assessment of PSI.”
But he didn’t talk to you and he didn’t talk to me. And ‘public sector information’ is our information not his, and not the government’s.
Here’s a flavour from Shakespeare’s report:
In our consultations, business has made clear that it is unwilling to invest in this field until there is more predictability in terms of supply of data. Therefore without greater clarity and commitment from government, we will fail to realise the growth opportunities from PSI.
It is important to note for such a strategy that the biggest prize is freeing the value of health, education, economic and public administrative data.
Quite clearly, without any consultation with the people, the government is being urged to be transparent with business on exactly what it is willing to sell; and that the most valuable data is our personal health records, our educational records, our economic status, and other information held about us by the local authority.
And the government’s response to this? One word:
This is government transparency – selling our privacy to the highest bidder. Are we really happy to just let this happen?