EC report: New trust pact required
Frank Wilson has authored the latest in a series of Think Papers for the European Commission entitled “Trust and Identity in Interactive Services: Technical and Societal Challenges” (PDF).
In this Paper, he says “… our governments and citizens must together develop an agreement on the acceptable ways of gathering, storing and using data about citizens within a secure electronic service environment.”
“The future of electronic service provision in all European societies relies on development of a citizen-centred European trust network to underpin and facilitate the many secure electronic service networks under development at present.”
I interpret this in two ways.
First, that data breaches of government-held personal information, such as that in the UK recently, undermine the basic trust relationship between government and people. As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, “The real issue goes to the heart of governance and government: trust… The hard reality is that it is about trust and a loss of trust strikes at the very foundation of government.”
Secondly, if the trust fabric is strong, people and government can both benefit substantially from richer user-centric online services that require an identity backbone. The trust pact ensures that a framework that protects privacy and offers user-control is in place, i.e. a framework that both reflects and enhances the trust relationship. Without such a trust relationship, efforts in building a user-centric identity or information metasystem that involves the government as an Identity Provider is inherently flawed.
How, then, should the trust relationship be built and nurtured? The Think Paper offers a somewhat simplistic view on that vital question by recommending “achieving a balance between the need to hold data and the duty to use it and protect it responsibly.” Hopefully, a future Think Paper will do more justice to this critical question.