Labour's digital review: The good and the bad

Why Labour's digital review is right about focusing on skills, and wrong about expanding the GDS

Open digital architecture

 Labour is just as keen as the Coalition to establish Government-as-a-Platform. This approach would see public data opened up for sharing among departments to create better services, though TechMarketView's O'Toole identifies challenges to this approach.

"We see issues around the handling and analysing of personal data, and the benefits and limitations of big data and open data, as the biggest hurdle to Government-as-a-Platform," she explains. "There is still a quagmire to wade through. The review recognises that and recommends a new legislative framework."

One approach Labour is passionate about is to give people ownership of their own data, but Kable's Roberts is sceptical.

He says: "Ensuring people own their own data' is question-begging, but there clearly needs to be well publicised and understood safeguards around initiatives like care.data.

"As solutions to these issues tend to be carefully nuanced, and the public debate tends to be shrill and crude, it's difficult to believe that legislative actions would resolve the various issues."

IT industry trade body TechUK hopes establishing a data ethics committee could strengthen public trust in government data-handling.

Deputy CEO Antony Walker says: "We reiterate our call to establish an independent data ethics committee to ensure consistent compliance to appropriate ethical standards in order to strengthen public trust in the Government's use of data."

Meanwhile Chris Pennell, analyst at Ovum, believes opening up more data does not necessarily lead to better sharing, as that data could all be in different, non-compatible formats.

"An open address dataset does nothing to address data quality issues across government," he says. "This can only come from seeing data for the increasingly mission critical asset that it is, and treating it in such a manner."

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