Governments and Information

I was sitting in a meeting a couple of years ago discussing how governments used personal data,in the room were high panjandrums from every department of state plus a few people from civil liberty and allied organisations.

We came to the point when someone suggested that truly joined up personal information available to all government departments would be a real benefit for the citizen.

The libertarians were horrified. They were worried that Healthcare data could be cross matched with welfare payments and when discrepancies were found the citizen could be tried, convicted, a prison space made available and the Police would snatch the person from home and take them directly there.

I pointed out that it would be worse than that. The reality would be that data would be wrong and before we knew it the Government would be correcting us instead of the data. In my case I presume some surgical operation would be conducted to remove 10inches from my height to make sure it matched the “Official Data.” I can think of worse errors!

Governments think they know so much about us but in reality the real danger comes from companies like BT and Google. This TED talk explains the concern.

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