William Heath issues an Appeal to Brainstorm

In Britain, the identity card debate is heating up again.

Before the recent election, the British government proposed a law introducing identity cards and a corresponding central identity database. Of course the political issues are for Britains to decide. But several of us who are involved with identity issues have commented on the situation from a technlogical point of view: governments would be well advised to look at advanced technologies through which they can achieve their governmental objectives while better protecting privacy and lowering the risk of an identity catastrophy.

Now the election is over. The British debate has started up again. And Edward Heath of Ideal Government, a site dedicated to issues of how to improve government at all levels, has issued a broad “Appeal to Brainstorm”. What a cool idea.

What do we want from identity systems? Wouldn’t it be better if…?

The Home Office is to reintroduce its idea of an ID system to underpin the sort of world it wants. Some are in favour. Some raise principled objections. Some are too angry to be coherent. There’s a major political row brewing. But very few people can really get their heads aroud it.

Some people, who like political rows, will say – bring it on.

This is a call to people who:

  • don’t care for political rows
  • are hardcore in their desire to live in an intelligently e-enabled world, built on a foundation of trust
  • insist on good public safety measures but reject needless authoritarianism
  • insist on respect for human rights and dignity
  • hate to see money wasted (whether through incompetence or deliberate fraud)
  • and want good, convenient and common-sense public services.

If that’s you, please join us at www.idealgovernment.com in an intense on-line brainstorm about what we want from identity systems for an e-enabled world. Ideal Government – the web log where ethnographers of bureaucracy come together to say what they want in e-enabled public services – is delighted to be official host for the LSE’s on-line debate in preparation for the Identity Project final report. All welcome. Ususal rules apply. Anyone can apply for author password. Anyone can comment. Anything offensive or actionable is taken down.

Contrary to what Baroness Scotland has said, there has not been an effective consultation and debate. A few cosy discussion between a partially-informed buyer and a few willing suppliers is no substitute for intelligent, passionate and measured engagement between people who really understand the issues in which they are respectively expert.

The LSE Identity Project is an essential contribution to setting out a user requirement of what we want from e-enabled government. Identity systems will produce a big bang in the e-enabled world. Let’s make sure we get the fireworks right.

For those not familiar with the British landscape, the LSE is the famous London School of Economics. They published a profoundly interesting report on the British proposal as first introduced, which I wrote about here.

Published by

Kim Cameron

Work on identity.