The title is quoted from the Register, in a post entitled “UK ID card service mounts birth, marriage, death landgrab” (The clue is in the title. )
The UK Identity & Passport Service (IPS) has staged an identity landgrab on birth, marriage and death records. From April 2008 the General Register Office, which is responsible for recording these matters and is currently a directorate of the Office of National Statistics, is to become part of IPS, meaning that IPS will be logging you from the moment you’re born until the moment you die.
Not only is the previously respected General Register office about to disappear into the gaping maw of the Orwellian Identity ministry, but its data will now feed
into the somewhat more chilling notion of of a continually updated life record. So was that Web 2.0, or just Stasi?
Considering the new owners, it’s now pretty clear which it is. (The Register, 11th October 2007)
Today, the Treasury announced its plan for cutting out all “avoidable contact” between the public and government services. Partly this consists of shutting down government websites and merging their information into one uber-website for citizens and one for businesses. It also involves minimising the chances that you might get to speak to a human being in the dole office or tax office. It’s supposed to be based on “customer journey mapping” which is supposed to be so successful in the private sector.
I assume that the government ministers and senior civil servants have other people to do their shopping for them. Otherwise they might know what a “customer journey” is like in the real world. There are few activities more infuriating than trying to get an answer to a nonstandard question from a phone-line that tells you how important your call is. Unless you count a call-centre operator with a preset script and limited understanding of any regional accent. Or a website that throws away all the details you have laboriously typed in after hours of searching through pages that were delivered over the Internet at a speed that would embarrass a partly squashed slug.
What does this whole new world of applying customer service principles mean for the UK citizen then? Well basically, yes, you’ve guessed it, extending their data sharing between departments. More ID.
Making better use of the customer information the public sector already holds. The types of transformation covered by this Agreement will simply not be possible unless the public sector can establish the identity of the customer it is dealing with simply and with certainty, and be able to pass relevant information between different parts of government. (The Treasury paper, 11th October 2007)
Page 19 of the Treasury document says
MAKING BETTER USE OF THE CUSTOMER INFORMATION THE PUBLIC SECTOR ALREADY HOLDS
3.34 This is a highly complex challenge which will not be entirely solved within the CSR07 period. The public sector can, however, make progress:
â€¢ at a strategic level; with the work being lead by the Home Office (on identity management) and by the Ministry of Justice (on information sharing). …
â€¢ at a tactical level by tackling these issues within the context of specific projects, most importantly â€œTell Us Onceâ€. ….. In addition to â€œTell Us Onceâ€ the Government will also sponsor and facilitate other specific projects including the Free School Meals pilot which is already
This is all boring stuff. The social consequences of applying mad business models to delivering public services makes your eyes start to droop. I know. I feel just the same.
The writers know that peppering documents with enough empty phrases like “the context of specific projects” and “strategic” and “tactical” and “facilitate pilots” will switch us off. This stops us seeing the content.
The No2ID campaign makes the same point as the Register, mentioning “Stasi files. ”
In your face, bungling amateurs in the Stasi. The UK government can teach you a thing or two.