We want government to be accountable, you believe in transparency, they are putting all the data online – I want my privacy back. Could this be the new conjugation for the Coalition's project to float out government data on the internet?
The more information is published, the narrower the divide between the public and the personal. Should every public sector employee, for example, be obliged to accept that his or her salary is a matter of public knowledge?
One man's accountability might be another man (or woman's) breach of privacy. As a strong critic of the last Government's failure to protect personal data, in its infatuation with so-called Transformational Government, I have been worrying about the possibility of conflict between the potentially state-shrinking transparency agenda piloted by Francis Maude and the Cabinet Office and the loss of personal privacy this could entail. So I welcome the news that Francis has now launched a review specifically to address this conflict – especially since the expert he has asked to chair the review is Dr Kieron O'Hara of Southampton University.
Apart from being a CPS Research Fellow and blogger, Kieran combines his huge expertise in technology and computer science with a close interest in politics and political theory, especially in the area of trust, privacy and power. So if anyone can reconcile the conflict inherent in opening up data, protecting personal privacy and keeping the state in check, it is surely Kieran. I look forward to the publication of the review's interim findings next month.
See the Cabinet Office Transparency and Digital Engagement Blog for more details.