Feeds

Blears blogs the Home Office defence of data retention

Unconvincingly, of course. But hey, it's a start...

High performance access to file storage

Wiliam Heath's Ideal Government blog has scored a coup with a post in the name of Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, who as far as we know has now become the most senior UK Government minister to interface with blogdom. The content - a justification of Home Office data retention policy - adds little to the sum total of human knowledge, but in this case it's the medium, not the message, that's significant.

Pretend for a moment that the Home Office understands what it's doing, then consider the implications. Government policy is currently communicated, argued and implemented in a largely non-interactive, adversarial way. Government determines what it intends to do, puts forward its arguments and goes ahead. Its intentions and arguments will be questioned in Parliament, in consultations and in the press, but (as the experience of the past few years makes clear), it will usually respond to these by carrying on going ahead and repeating the same arguments as it does so.

Don't knock it too hard though - irritating as it is to to see the same faulty logic and discredited arguments trucked out over and over again, it's a viable mode of Government, up to a point. It gets stuff done, and any personal dislikes you may have of the stuff that's getting done only become material when enough other people hate it enough for stuff to be modified, or not to get done.

A politician "writing" (few of them really do) an article for the national press can be seen as an extension of this process. Policy is stated and arguments are made, but although there is scope for counter-argument (e.g. opposition responses and readers' letters) these are muted by the medium, and the debate remains largely adversarial.

But what happens when Government attempts to extend this process into more interactive media? While you could see an article in, say, the Times as providing a platform for a Minister to state a case without direct or immediate challenge, by posting to a discussion-led blog like Ideal Government Blears is more properly offering up a topic for debate. In the particular case of Blears' post, the other half of the debate swiftly arrived in the shape of challenges from Spy Blog and Ian Brown. These challenges have been made previously, but they have not been answered previously; if however Blears is playing by the rules, it's now her move, right?

There you see the difficulty. The Government currently has good reason to take notice of blogs, and to try to figure out what to do about them. But what can it do?

If Ministers don't answer questions, address points and develop arguments openly and honestly in Parliament, they can't rationally do so in blog discussions, and they'd get fired if they tried. They can certainly make announcements to blogs, but as these will tend to result in immediate rebuttals which the Minister can't answer without being sucked further into debate, getting involved probably hurts more than it helps (see Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy's bloggings for an approach which retains some control of the playing field while dealing with a less controversial subject).

So the Home Office didn't know what it was doing when it submitted the piece? It certainly knows what Ideal Government is, and it ought to know how it works, and therefore that by contributing it would be opening a debate rather than making a statement... But no, it quite probably it didn't. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
Analysts: Bright future for smartphones, tablets, wearables
There's plenty of good money to be made if you stay out of the PC market
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.