* Posts by D Moss Esq

213 posts • joined 19 Jun 2009

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Let's get GDS to build a public blockchain, UK.gov's top boffin says

D Moss Esq

Who knows what they're talking about?

On the one hand, Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, thinks blockchain is a good idea.

On the other hand, Tom Loosemore, ex-deputy director of GDS, thinks it's a turkey (47'40"-49'00").

They can't both be right.

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Anyone seen my DVD? Ohio loses disc holding 50,000 citizens' records

D Moss Esq

For "Ohio 2015", read "Iowa 2007"

Ann Treneman's parliamentary sketch in the Times, 18 December 2007, This is shaping up to be Gordon Brown’s Winter of Disc Content:

The details of three million learner drivers in Britain have gone missing from a facility in Iowa City, Iowa.

... surely, nobody who lives in Britain should have to have their driving licence details stored there. (Or not, as the case now is.)

If we have to have globalisation, the details should be stored somewhere more glamorous than Iowa, which is famous for its early presidential primary and its giant pigs. I am sure that none of the three million Brits ever thought that they would be stored on a hard disc in Iowa City ...

Only the Government could lose three million learner drivers in a place where they cannot drive anyway but if they could they would be on the wrong side of the road.

... a “hard disc drive” had gone missing from a “secure” facility.

Why did she [Ruth Kelly, Transport Secretary at the time] call the facility “secure”? This is, by definition, an insecure facility. The whole thing was proof, if more were needed, that this Government has L-plates. I am not sure that it should even be driving, much less be allowed on what used to be called, rather quaintly, the information superhighway.

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Assessing the UK’s Government Digital Service

D Moss Esq

Damned to failure

Sir David [Varney]'s aim, set out in a report he wrote for Mr Brown at the end of last year [2006], is to create a giant centralised government database containing information about everybody in the country. It would establish what he calls a "single source of truth" about each individual - "made more robust through the introduction of identity cards" - which could be accessed by any department that wanted to verify who somebody was. It could also be used to target services more efficiently at individuals.

That was nine years ago.

And now? What's changed?

Speaking at the Code for America Summit 2015, Tom Loosemore described the set of registers on which Government as a Platform (GaaP) relies as the "single source of truth" (20'50"-21'00").

The same Biblical language is being used. That hasn't changed.

For "identity cards", read "GOV.UK Verify (RIP) accounts".

The promise remains better public services.

And information about us all is still to be shared by benevolent government departments.

Mr Loosemore recommends that this sharing should only take place with our consent. That might have carried some weight if he could explain how the Trust and Consent layer in his GaaP model could be effective but he couldn't. And if were still deputy director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) but he isn't.

The Trust and Consent layer was no more than a fig leaf and is dispensed with in GDS's model of GaaP.

A review of GDS must conclude that Whitehall has learned nothing in nine years. The pursuit of a single source of truth is damned to failure now just as much as it was in 2006.

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New bill would require public companies to disclose cybersecurity credentials

D Moss Esq

Checking the Cybersecurity Disclosure box will help because ...

Please see Bloomberg, 30 June 2015, JPMorgan Reassigns Security Team Leader a Year After Data Breach.

JP Morgan could have ticked the Cybersecurity Disclosure Act box in good faith. That didn't stop the bank from being part of one of the biggest hacks in US history, JPMorgan's 2014 Hack Tied to Largest Cyber Breach Ever.

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UK government names Cloud Foundry Her Majesty's preferred PaaS

D Moss Esq

Re: "the granularity of user permissions"

Criterion #19 in the Digital by Default Service Standard.

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D Moss Esq

Ministerial Group on Government Digital Technology

9 November 2015: "Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock has today announced a new Ministerial Group on Government Digital Technology. It will lead and drive through reforms to the UK’s digital public services, one of the government’s top priorities".

Who is on this committee? What skills do they have and what powers? Did they approve Cloud Foundry?

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D Moss Esq

"the granularity of user permissions"

The Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group have set out nine tests of the control users have over their data, please see p.3. We must check how many of these tests GDS-produced Cloud Foundry platforms pass. We can be pretty sure that they won't get into double figures. It's not impossible that the answer be zero. Then what?

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Libertarian hero: 'Satoshi Nakamoto', government funds, the NSA and the DHS

D Moss Esq

Bitcoin flashbacks

The punched card ... The big B ... I'm getting flashbacks ... To the old Burroughs Medium Systems operator's console, the lights on which would display a big B for Burroughs if the input-output and the CPU were optimally balanced, please see here and particularly here, 200 megabytes of head-per-track vertically mounted 1 metre diameter disk, 128 kilobytes of core memory, ... Is there a doctor in the house?

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GDS £450m investment probably an 'accounting fudge' – gov IT analyst

D Moss Esq

Re: Poor old el Reg

No mention of kids or hoodies in the ElReg article.

The SIs are still firmly in control at DWP, DH, HMRC, HO, etc ... That's the problem. Despite all the talk of revolution, GDS haven't unseated them in the past four years and they don't look like doing so in future.

GDS have now been promised £450 million to change the relationship between people and the government. Suppose that read "PA Consulting have now been promised £450 million to change the relationship between people and the government". How would that be different?

Have GDS become an SI? They're inordinately pleased with themselves and they've got their quota of expensive failures and late deliveries. What else do they need to become full members of the SI club?

As things stand, you and I are going to have to look elsewhere for the revolution.

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D Moss Esq

Re: the "making tax digital” savings have been rated as “highly uncertain”

The Spending Review has one pot of money (£1.3 billion) for HMRC's computerisation and another pot (£1.8 billion) for every other bit of government. HMRC is special.

Of course it is. HMRC raises most of the money the government spends, the balance being made up with borrowing.

Thanks in part to the 15 year-old Government Gateway – the platform GDS rarely mention – HMRC has raised several trillion pounds this millennium.

It's not just the Gateway. You've got to hand it to HMRC. Organisations have been transacting digitally with HMRC, e.g. VAT returns, more and more, for years, and individuals, too, e.g. self-assessment. HMRC got that up and running. Before GDS existed. HMRC deployed iXBRL nationwide, which required major project management prowess. And RTI, too, where they provide free software to small employers and a support service that worked the one time I needed it.

Cutting the telephone support for taxpayers is a catastrophic mistake. Apart from that, the rest of Whitehall and local government have got a lot to learn from HMRC.

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D Moss Esq

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Plans to pump an extra [?] £450m for the Government Digital Service to fuel the "digital revolution" was the shock take-away announcement in George Osborne's Spending Review yesterday - from the perspective of technology spend at least.

It came as particularly unexpected as the body's top brass left en masse several months ago following reports that its budget was being slashed ...

Suppose that GDS got the £450 million because "the body's top brass left en masse several months ago"?

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Government Gateway online hack claims 'nonsense', say multiple folk in the know

D Moss Esq
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On its way: A Google-free, NSA-free IT infrastructure for Europe

D Moss Esq

Long and boring (I refer to my comment, of course, not the Register article)

"Kids today", even "phone bloggers", don't pay to lobby the government. Businesses do.

Living under surveillance causes psychiatric disorders. We know that but it has no traction with the unconverted.

You get political traction when you lobby government, as businesses do, and with them it's not so much privacy that they need as confidentiality. The secrecy they need when they have a new product coming to market or when they're planning a takeover is generally regarded as legitimate in a way that lying to an insurance company about HIV, to take Andrew's example, is not.

To get political traction on the downside of surveillance, may I suggest, the argument needs to move from personal privacy to commercial confidentiality.

NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ, the Guardian told us in August 2013.

Money.

Money is changing hands.

Surveillance costs money and that money has to come from somewhere.

While the security services are surveilling all and sundry that must include businesses, not just phone bloggers. The security services must come across not just personal but commercial confidences, e.g. the takeover by Berkshire Hathaway of Heinz, please see Heinz bought by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway for $28bn: "Shares in Heinz soared nearly 20% in New York to hit the $72.50 price being offered".

Armed with their advance knowledge, the security services could have secretly bought £100 million-worth of Heinz and tucked a £20 million profit into the budget a few days later.

That wouldn't go down well with Berkshire Hathaway or any of the other rich-as-Croesus enterprises who spend a fortune on political lobbying. That's where to get the traction.

And if the result is secure-ish email for businesses then individuals as well will get secure-ish email.

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Fingerprints, facial scans, EU border data slurp too tasty for French to resist

D Moss Esq

EU borders and the McCormick identity, supremacy, ultimatum and legacy

French authorities want fingerprint and facial scans of everyone entering or leaving the EU.

Why would they want that?

We know that it can't be for border security – mass consumer flat print fingerprinting and face recognition are flaky technologies far too unreliable to secure any border.

So why?

France is home to the biometrics company Morpho (previously Sagem Sécurité). Never mind the fact that the technology is useless, if the EU wants to record and store the biometrics of several hundred million residents and travellers the effect on Morpho's turnover would be agréable.

Why wouldn't they want that?

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EU desperately pushes just-as-dodgy safe harbour alternatives

D Moss Esq

European Commission daft – official

“Symantec believes that the recent ruling will create considerable disruption and uncertainty for those companies that have relied solely on safe harbor as a means of transferring data to the United States.”

Who are these "companies that have relied solely on safe harbor"?

Take for example Eventbrite, the San Francisco-based event organiser incorporated in Delaware:

On 19 October, Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock will host the UK’s first ever Job Hack as part of the government’s commitment to ending long-term youth unemployment.

The event will bring together a diverse group of talented and creative people who will work collaboratively to come up with solutions using data.

We are looking for developers and designers to come and join us on the day. If you are interested in taking part, register and tell us a bit about yourself.

So there's Mr Hancock inviting young hopefuls to a jobhack and telling them to register through Eventbrite, who tell us on their website that:
13.1 Servers.

If you are visiting the Services from outside the United States, please be aware that you are sending information (including Personal Data) to the United States where our servers are located. That information may then be transferred within the United States or back out of the United States depending on the type of information and how it is stored by us. We will hold and process your Personal Data in accordance with privacy laws in the United States and this Privacy Policy. Please note that privacy laws in the United States may not be the same as, and in some cases may be less protective than, the privacy laws in your country, and while in the United States Personal Data may be subject to lawful access requests by government agencies.

13.2 Safe Harbor Frameworks.

We participate in the US-EU & US-Swiss Safe Harbor Frameworks covering Personal Data gathered in the European Union member countries and Switzerland. Our participation means that we self certify that we adhere to the Safe Harbor principles of notice, choice, onward transfer, security, integrity, access and enforcement with respect to such personal information. For more information about these frameworks and our participation in them, please visit the US Department of Commerce’s Safe Harbor website at http://www.export.gov/safeharbor/.

It always was daft for the Government Digital Service and others in the UK to use Eventbrite for their boondoggles. Now the European Court of Justice say that it's not just daft, the European Commission were flat wrong to say that the harbour is safe.

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D Moss Esq

... if this starts costing real profits in the US then ...

If?

See New York Times, 21 March 2014, for example:

“It’s clear to every single tech company that this is affecting their bottom line,” said Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, who predicted that the United States cloud computing industry could lose $35 billion by 2016.

Forrester Research, a technology research firm, said the losses could be as high as $180 billion, or 25 percent of industry revenue, based on the size of the cloud computing, web hosting and outsourcing markets and the worst case for damages.

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Japan begins mega-rollout of 100 million+ national IDs

D Moss Esq

Re: Less incompetent than the others

We'll have to find out from Mr Worstall at the Weekend what a " debt per GDP ratio" is before anyone can answer your question.

The Economist used to tell me that the Japanese are very keen savers, their problem is the reverse of debt, they won't spend (apart from recently buying the FT) and when economic growth stopped that led to deflation which made them even less inclined to spend which shrank the economy further and every political attempt to reverse that unhappy spiral has failed.

Meanwhile, back to the My Number card. My Number system raises red flags in Japan ahead of notice release in the Asia Times highly recommended – a master class in bathos:

• The Japanese government is "determined to accurately explain the merits of the system".

• "The issue of how children are to use the cards is another matter to consider".

• "It is also unclear whether all the terminals necessary to scan My Number information will have been installed in retailers in time for the start of the system ... Moreover, who is to pay for the machines’ installation has yet to be decided".

• "It also seems likely that the cards will be difficult to use at food vendors or for services such as take-out delivery".

• "That said, the system is not without its merits ... Receiving natural-disaster relief will also become smoother ...".

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D Moss Esq

Less incompetent than the others

When I was young we all used to believe that our politicians and public administrators here in the UK were incompetent. The death of GOV.UK Verify RIP suggests that there is no reason to change that belief.

We also used to believe that the politicians and public administrators in other countries were better than ours. We were jealous of them.

Looking at this Japanese My Number initiative, for example, and the Indian Aadhaar disaster and Estonia, that jealousy was, in retrospect, entirely wasted.

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The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

D Moss Esq

Ferrous drape sales

It’s all reminiscent of the early days of Cray in the 1970s and 1980s, when Cray’s eponymously named systems were for friends and Cold War allies only. Supercomputers were on a list of technologies whose export to foreign powers was tightly controlled by Washington DC ... In the mid-1980s, the CIA reckoned (PDF) that the purchase of a single Cray-1 could have doubled the total scientific computing power available to their ideological enemies in the USSR.

I remember newspaper reports of a Control Data machine being sold to the Russians. They didn't have any dollars to pay for it with. They bartered for it with ... Christmas cards, presumably quite a lot of them.

Can't find a link in any of the comics I used to read – Computer Weekly, Computing, Stop Press – but Google turns up this link, which includes Pepsi-Cola's sale of concentrate to Hungary in return for film distribution rights, but not the sale of ditto my friend C_________ did for dried onion soup.

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Experian-T-Mobile US hack: 'We trusted them, now that trust is broken'

D Moss Esq

Experian, the "identity provider"

The T-Mobile hack is just as much a UK story as a US one. Experian is a FTSE-100 company. They oil the wheels of commerce and of marketing, including political marketing. They are also an appointed "identity provider" for the UK government's identity assurance programme, GOV.UK Verify (RIP): "When you’re using digital services, you need to be sure that your privacy is being protected and your data is secure".

GOV.UK Verify (RIP) is run by the Government Digital Service (GDS), who have so far remained silent about the T-Mobile hack and every other problem that the programme faces. Where is their head? In the sand.

GDS are more outspoken when trying to sell the putative virtues of GOV.UK Verify (RIP) to entrepreneurs, their argument being that sharing our personal data with all and sundry via GOV.UK Verify (RIP) will cause the UK economy to grow.

Unlike GDS, the venture capitalists who back entrepreneurs cannot afford to have their head in the sand. They will have noticed T-Mobile even if GDS haven't and their cheque books will by now be firmly locked in their desks. GOV.UK Verify RIP.

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Slander-as-a-service: Peeple app wants people to rate and review you – whether you like it or not

D Moss Esq

Re: "We are a positivity app" ...

Reproved, that's me.

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D Moss Esq

"We are a positivity app" ...

... that's what the Doge said, way back when in Venice, as he launched the bocche dei leoni denunciation app, "we still welcome everyone to explore this [hole-in-the-wall] village of love and abundance for all".

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Feds want a phone smart enough to burn itself if it falls into the wrong hands

D Moss Esq

Re: Fantastic

... or the no-nonsense protection built into South African cars.

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The BBC's Space: A short history of 21st Century indoor relief

D Moss Esq

If Space runs out of time ...

... there's always Martha-now-Lady Lane Fox's promising cluster, DOT EVERYONE ("making Britain brilliant at the Internet"):

DOT EVERYONE must help us navigate the multiple ethical and moral issues that the internet is presenting and will continue to present.
Navigators, boatswains, mainbrace-splicers, ..., I can't see a crew of less than 500 being needed.

We haven't heard much about DOT EVERYONE since it was announced at this year's Dimbleby Lecture. We can only hope that the Chinese and the Russians haven't already digitally stolen its valuable IP.

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India to cripple its tech sector with proposed encryption crackdown

D Moss Esq

Someone wants the Deity to become all-knowing

ElReg: The new National Encryption Policy [PDF] proposed by the nation's Department of Electronics and Information Technology states that ...

Let the Department of Electronics and Information Technology = The Deity.

The Deity wants state-controlled encryption, as ElReg tell us.

But that's not all.

India Today: New Delhi, Sep 18 (PTI) The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar cards [= ID cards], has been shifted to the administrative control of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology from Niti Aayog [new name for the Planning Commission].

And which Department has the Ministry put UIDAI into?

The Deity.

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Architect of UK’s hated Care.data scheme quits NHS, flees from Britain

D Moss Esq

"Infectious"? Bit worrying for Oz healthworkers.

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D Moss Esq

Architect of UK’s hated Care.data scheme quits NHS, flees from Britain

Did he "flee" or was he "transported"?

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Jeremy Corbyn: My part in his glorious socialist triumph

D Moss Esq

It lacks something of Bong's jovial and innocent desire to make money ...

... but you may also enjoy Nick Cohen's contribution today, 74 years after the Orwell essay quoted:

We have a politician at the forefront of one of Europe’s great parties telling Poles that their country has no right to defend itself against an expansionist Russia. The man I suppose I now have to call the leader of the British Left is defending a classically reactionary power. Those who have kept their eyes open won’t be shocked. Opposition to the West is the first, last and only foreign policy priority of many on the Left. It accounts for its disorientating alliances with movements any 20th-century socialist would have no trouble in labelling as extreme right-wing.

Not just Corbyn and his supporters but much of the liberal Left announce their political correctness and seize on the smallest sexist or racist “gaffe” of their opponents. Without pausing for breath, they move on to defend radical Islamist movements which believe in the subjugation of women and the murder of homosexuals. They will denounce the anti-Semitism of white neo-Nazis, but justify Islamist anti-Semites who actually murder Jews in Copenhagen and Paris. In a telling vignette ...

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D Moss Esq

Bong, you must Bing me some time. As I was saying ...

... back in 1941:

The mentality of the English left-wing intelligentsia can be studied in half a dozen weekly and monthly papers. The immediately striking thing about all these papers is their generally negative, querulous attitude, their complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion. There is little in them except the irresponsible carping of people who have never been and never expect to be in a position of power. Another marked characteristic is the emotional shallowness of people who live in a world of ideas and have little contact with physical reality. Many intellectuals of the Left were flabbily pacifist up to 1935, shrieked for war against Germany in the years 1935-9, and then promptly cooled off when the war started. It is broadly though not precisely true that the people who were most ‘anti-Fascist’ during the Spanish Civil War are most defeatist now. And underlying this is the really important fact about so many of the English intelligentsia – their severance from the common culture of the country.

In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box ...

Best

Eric

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Australia to capture biometrics at the border under new law

D Moss Esq

Current and future uses of biometric data and technologies

What was that, Woody Allen said? Oh yes:

“It reminds me of that old joke – you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken. Then the doc says, why don't you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee conducted an inquiry into biometrics.

Don't tell the Australians, they might think the government is wasting their money or taking the mick, but some of the testimony heard by the Committee was a little adverse.

This, for example:

From the viewpoint of conventional science, the forensic identification sciences are contenders for being the shoddiest science offered to the courts. After being in business for nearly a century, they still have developed little that would be recognised as a scientific foundation and, consequently, have little basic science to apply to their operational activities.

And this:

The judicial setting increasingly demands a robustness that will satisfy legal admissibility testing and there is strong evidence to support the growing concern that most current biometrics fail to have a sufficiently robust research foundation to reach a meaningful admissibility threshold.

And this:

Many current biometric methods receive only minimal scientific grounding and the rigour of testing can often be inadequate, making the degree of reliability and confidence in the biometric open to significant and justified challenge. As a consequence the results of the interpretation of biometric data derived from analysis, as well as the analysis itself, can be called into question by both the user and the assessor thereby generating distrust and suspicion ... We need more science in biometrics.

It would be extraordinarily useful if today's mass consumer biometrics technology worked. So useful, in fact, that the mere fact that it doesn't is overlooked.

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And so it begins... Cleaning up HMRC's £10.7bn Aspire mess

D Moss Esq

HMRC's debt to GDS

You say: Mark Delaney, HMRC chief digital and information officer, claimed it will run a "mixed model of both internal and external delivery using multiple partners".

Do you perhaps intend Mark Dearnley?

Assuming that you do, readers should know that his strategy is for HMRC to agree with GDS*.

That's not the only difference between HMRC and DEFRA. DEFRA is tiny compared to HMRC, which accounts for over 70% of central government transaction volumes (if you believe GDS dashboard statistics) – HMRC IT is central government IT.

Let's hope that Mr Dearnley has a few better ideas. He may otherwise be well advised to change his name to Delaney.

----------

* Shocking thought, but anyone who can't be bothered to read HMRC's strategy can see a digest here.

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Warning flags were raised over GDS farm payments system – yet it still failed

D Moss Esq

Kainos

Some of the rural payments problems are put down to the users. Too old, not computer-literate, these farmers, and they live in the countryside, where broadband speeds are low.

That seems fair.

Others are laid at the door of Kainos, who provided the graphics software for mapping. And which prize did they win at Digital Leaders 100 yesterday? Industry Digital Leader of the Year.

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D Moss Esq

Quiz

Who said:

I go weekly now. I go to the meeting of the Common Agricultural Policy Reform Group. It's the RPA. It's the Rural Payments Agency.

Why I'm so excited about that is because they've embraced agile completely. They're going with an agile build out of a whole new programme. That's going to affect everyone in this country, and how they deal with land management, all the farmers, all the people who deal with crops, all the data. It's going to create, I think, a data industry around some of that data.

It's going to help us deal with Europe in a different way, and quite rightly we're building it as a platform. It's going to be another example of government as a platform.

I'm on the Board, and I'm trying to help them every week, and GDS will be working very closely with them to deliver that.

Answer

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Nosy Brit cops demand access to comms data EVERY TWO MINUTES

D Moss Esq

If dinosaurs had got any bigger ...

... so we are told, when they stubbed their toe it would be a week before the signal reached their brain and they experienced pain.

20 December 2002, you will remember, as if it were only yesterday, is when the BBC reported Phone firms 'flooded' by crime checks:

Almost half a million inquiries are made to the firms every year by police and customs officers, the BBC has learned.

That's about one inquiry per minute. 14½ years later, the "worrywarts" have got the number wrong and they've forgotten about HMRC.

Not all the dinosaurs were wiped out when that comet landed in the Gulf of Mexico.

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GDS to handle Govt payments? What could possibly go wrong?

D Moss Esq

Re: The Busines Case?

You will find the business case set out with admirable clarity by Mark Thompson, a public services consultant, in What is government as a platform and how do we achieve it?.

It all depends on the location of the digital profile of Payments on the Certainty-Ubiquity surface.

Providing a single pan-government Payments platform will unleash "unprecedented innovation, efficiency, and savings":

There are lots of discussion going on at the moment about digital “platforms”, and the impact they might have on UK public services. A rough and ready calculation suggests such an approach could save the UK £35bn each year – but the jury is still out on how best to go about making it happen.

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G Cloud 6? No, not for us, say hundreds of suppliers

D Moss Esq

For the avoidance of doubt ...

G-Cloud sales figures are always quoted from inception. They are the total turnover since 1 April 2012, when G-Cloud opened for business over three years ago. £431 million may sound quite good if you think that's sales to date this year. But it's actually the value of public sector sales in 37 months.

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After #Election2015: How can we save Big Data?

D Moss Esq

Downvoted for missing the obvious point that if only our new Chief Data Officer had been appointed earlier the pollsters could have been scrummed into shape.

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D Moss Esq

According to Wikipedia ...

... Nate was hatched from an egg at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, England, then moved to a tank at one of the chain's centres at Oberhausen in Germany. His name derives from the title of a poem by the German children's writer Boy Lornsen: Der Tintenfisch Nate Silver.

According to Sea Life's entertainment director, Daniel Fey, Nate demonstrated intelligence early in life: "There was something about the way he looked at our visitors when they came close to the tank. It was so unusual, so we tried to find out what his special talents were."

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Scot Nationalists' march on Westminster may be GOOD for UK IT

D Moss Esq

Next stop Venezuela

No mention of the Scottish financial sector? It's huge and it would emigrate within 24 hours of independence. Don't believe that? Take a look at the oil sector. Prices are down, exploration has stopped and extraction and refining are fast grinding to a halt.

The Scots are sensible people. They will not vote for independence.

Which leaves Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in a more precarious negotiating position than the media suggest. They pretend now to advocate the merits of socialism which have done so much for life expectancy in Glasgow.

Will Salmond and Sturgeon stand on a "next stop Venezuela" ticket?

No. They're too sensible. See above.

They'll do the best they can by their constituents. Which is as it should be. And that's it.

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VOTERS! This Election: Vote #Smart, Vote #Digital

D Moss Esq

More ¡Bong! for our $buck$

A public service consultant writes:

The inescapable DNA of a digitally-enabled public service model is a set of clean, agreed, and common capabilities, distilled and evolved from the currently duplicated and siloed functions, processes, roles and even organisations that exist across government.

Why can't we have more like that in ¿ElReg?

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How Groucho Marx lost his voice and found his funny bone

D Moss Esq

Don't let's forget Mae West ...

... and WC Fields

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D Moss Esq

Re: I have to say

The Big Store was dreadful?

Oh come on.

"Shoot the talcum to me, Malcolm"?

"The bassinet with a built-in lullaby", 40 years before Victoria Wood's "sockette with a built-in wolf whistle"?

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Bruce Schneier's Data and Goliath – solution or part of the problem?

D Moss Esq

Brave man, Andrew, tackling this subject.

Relax, I shall make no original contribution, I promise. I can't.

Roger Scruton can: "... the shared assumption was that rights are liberties. They are there to protect the individual against oppression, and especially oppression wielded by the clergy, the sovereign or the state. Their existence is fundamental to anything that we could call government by consent, and they capture the essence of the political process as we, in the West, have since conceived it – namely as a device for protecting the individual against the group".

Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism by Larry Siedentop – that might help, I can't claim to have read it, but my friend Scott reviewed it.

All very elevated. Back here down on terror firmer, what do we get?

A person is a set of entitlements. Or a set of credentials. Or a fingerprint. Or a mobile phone with a lot of digital certificates and an associated location history. Or, GOV.UK Verify, a person is a credit history.

That, or the Mydex/Ctrl-Shift idea, that a person is a quantified self represented on-line by his or her 100% guaranteed hyper-secure personal data store. That quantified self can have rational decisions made for it by utilitarian apps which process the data in the PDS. Never mind the Enlightenment. Back to the ancient Greeks, when people were pawns in the Titans'/Gods' game of chess.

Just saying ...

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UK now part of another Euro data-spaff scheme

D Moss Esq

Who told you that?

The UK has hitherto not been extended access to the SIS II as it is not part of the Schengen free movement area. However, as of April 13 it is now allowed to use the SIS within the context of police and judicial cooperation, though not in relation to external border policy.

Re SIS I: "The UK was given access to sensitive information on criminal and policing matters held on the Schengen Information System, an EU-wide directory, in 2000, but there have been repeated technical problems".

Re SIS II, I was told at a meeting at the Home Office on 23 February 2010 that the UK should be able to use it from 2012.

Interpol weren't impressed with UK border control in 2004. Or 2007.

Raytheon didn't help.

The problems lie in the UK Border Force. Not the EU.

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Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating REAL entrepreneurs?

D Moss Esq

Let's get our duck in a row

Tim Worstall: She walked away to join a couple of resolutely non-digital boards, signed up for a couple of quangos and that was it. The quangos led to the government tsar bit, which in turn led to the peerage and now has led to... umm, well, a committee to tell people to be digital, I think.

Is it any wonder that we're not creating serial entrepreneurs when that's the preferred career path for those who could be one, to have one success and then aim for the tiara, not the next big thing?

I think you're wrong about British entrepreneurs but that's irrelevant as MLF isn't an entrepreneur, is she. She's a salesman. She's a motivational speaker. But not an entrepreneur.

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Home Office awards Raytheon £150m over e-borders cancellation

D Moss Esq

£150 million?

We could have bought 150 modern, mature and powerful Tomahawk Cruise missiles for that.

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Ark scoops £700m to host ALL UK.gov's data centre needs

D Moss Esq

ARK & Skyscape

Take another look at those directors – stuffed to the gills with the usual suspects: G-Cloud, GDS, HMRC and Skyscape, the company with just one director, who owns all the shares – Whitehall SNAFU

Then take a look at the original plans for G-Cloud – efficient, consolidated, centralised, trusted, green: G-Cloud Overview

Remember that Skyscape claim to have picked up 50% of all G-Cloud business – they're no longer an SME: Skyscape – the Surprise as a Service company

What does that add up to?

It's not clear, especially with this latest revelation that the Cabinet Office have taken a 25 percent stake in ARK, but it doesn't add up to central government outsourcing to the private sector, especially SMEs, while taking advantage of the cloud with its mythically low costs (practically free), magically releasing billions to be spent on cakes, bunting and post-it notes for GDS's walls.

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MPs 'alarmed' by millions of mugshots on Brit cops' databases

D Moss Esq

The appropriate response? Mockery

No-one who gave evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's enquiry into biometrics said that mass consumer biometrics work. No statistics were put forward to measure how reliable this technology is.

Many witnesses went out of their way to say how unreliable mass consumer biometrics are. Not least the police themselves – "the technology is not yet at the maturity where it could be deployed", says Chief Constable Chris Sims at para.95 speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers about face recognition.

There's no need to be alarmed by the deployment of a technology that doesn't work. It is more appropriate, surely, to mock the deployers, in this case the police, for wasting their time deploying it. You could also be angry that they are wasting their time. And our money. But not alarmed.

Chief Constable Sims is also quoted as saying that he is "not aware of forces using facial image software at the moment". Are we to believe that the police have gone to all the trouble of uploading 12 million+ faces onto their national database but they aren't using them? If so – and that's what the Chief Constable says – then cue more mockery.

Mockery or fury at the waste of time and money and the absence of logic. But not alarm. Alarm suggests that you think the technology works. Even the police don't say that. They say the opposite. It doesn't work. All you do by expressing alarm is to help the salesmen to sell this flaky technology. "Why would all these cowardly children with something to hide be alarmed", the salesmen may ask a prospective credulous customer, "if the technology doesn't work?".

There is plenty of room to be angry at the police for ignoring the High Court for 2 1/2 years. No room for alarm. And otherwise just wall-to-wall mockery at the twits for buying this rubbish and pretending that they are thereby doing something in the interests of crime prevention/detection.

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