Feeds

Public bodies told: Swapping data feels good, but you must be careful

Eurim gives cautious welcome to EU plans

Top three mobile application threats

Sharing data on public services could have serious consequences unless the material has been valued, maintained and protected and the original reasons for its collection have been taken into account, the Information Society Alliance (Eurim), has warned.

In a report (PDF) on the quality of public sector information, the group says that the drive to put central and local government data online, open to public scrutiny, has revealed the long standing problems with quality that lie behind the reluctance of some departments and agencies to trust one another's data. It adds that it is important that decisions on spending cuts are based on good quality information.

"Meanwhile demands from regulators and government agencies for the collection and retention of data that is not required for operational purposes, but might be needed in future, reduce UK competitiveness and add to public sector costs," says the document.

"The scale and nature of current duplication, inconsistency, confusion and error, both random and systemic, derives from failure to apply the disciplines of information management. The consequences include personal tragedy, avoidable suffering, inefficiency, waste and policy decisions based on mythology, hunch and guesswork, rather than the well informed analysis of timely and reliable data."

Despite its concerns, Eurim says that it welcomes the EU's new Open Data Strategy, which aims to make public sector data more freely available.

To help improve the quality of public sector information, Eurim recommends that:

  • Government departments need to recognise that they are comparatively minor players in a mature, global market for personal and business information, including identity registration and customer identification services and analyses of transactions and patterns of behaviour.
  • The information they collect and maintain should be clearly relevant to the service delivered and aligned to the objectives of the organisation, using collection and validation processes that do not get in the way of efficient service delivery.
  • Information should be a treated as an asset, to be valued, maintained and protected.
  • When information is re-used, the context in which it was originally collected needs to be understood, including its provenance, for example, who collected it?
  • The public sector needs to rebuild its skills to manage and use information, at all levels, including technical and professional, as a matter of urgency.
  • The demise of the Audit Commission and pressures for regulatory rationalisation, including information assurance and data protection, suggests the need for a single authoritative and independent guardian of public sector information and information management standards, under the aegis of the public administration select committee.

Dr Edwards Phelps, secretary general at Eurim, said: "While the government should be applauded for its aim of opening up data on public services to save money and stimulate economic growth, it is absolutely essential that government departments understand the risks associated with data sharing and the procedures that should be followed."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
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.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.