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Government Privacy The Internet United Kingdom Technology

Every British Citizen To Have a Personal Webpage 313

Posted by timothy
from the you-have-6-asbos-waiting-and-no-guns dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is about to announce that within a year everyone in Great Britain will be given a personalized webpage for accessing Government services as part of a plan to save billions of pounds by putting all public services online. The move could see the closure of job centers and physical offices dealing with tax, vehicle licensing, passports and housing benefits within 10 years as services are offered through a single digital gateway. [This] 'saves time for people and it saves money for the Government — the processing of a piece of paper and mailing it back costs many times more than it costs to process something electronically,' says Tim Berners-Lee, an advisor to the Prime Minister. However, the proposals are coming under fire from union leaders who complain that thousands of public sector workers would be made jobless and pointed to the Government's poor record of handling personal data. 'Cutting public services is not only bad for the public who use services but also the economy as we are pushing people who provide valuable services on the dole,' says one union leader."
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Every British Citizen To Have a Personal Webpage

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  • by Manip (656104) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:13PM (#31553184)

    Good news the UK government is getting involved in another large IT project... So we can assure ourself of two things, first off this will be hugely overbudget, and secondly it will never remotely do what they had originally intended. How is that NHS system coming? That nationwide police database? That system to monitor people entering and leaving the country? ...

    The UK government has a bad track record of IT. They do stuff by committee and hire tons of "consultants" who only seem to exist to get themselves more consultant work. Instead of just written an ironclad contract and giving the work to a third party they instead give it out to dozens of third parties with a big government organisation in the middle and then wonder why it won't fit together at the end.

    The sad truth is that nobody ever asks IT guys who to complete IT projects. Can you imagine if nobody asked doctors how to cure sick people? Or asked the military how to win a war? Sigh, now I'm pressed. I need a drink.

  • What about ex-pats (Score:2, Informative)

    by walkoff (1562019) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:13PM (#31553186)
    It seems to be using the wrong list. i'm a British citizen but not currently on any voting lists because i've been living out of country for years, if he really wants to number us all they should be using our national insurance numbers.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:50PM (#31553468) Journal

    ...after all, we're talking about access to stuff which was traditionally handled with paper. The only difference is that an electronic trail is easier to follow than a paper trail -- but here, "easier" only means "less time-consuming," or, alternatively, "cheaper."

    Here in the US, we have the option of filing our taxes online, or mailing in a paper form. Either way is going to include our social security number, along with a bunch of other personally identifying information. Either way might lead to our personal information being leaked or abused. The only real difference is that the online version is faster and potentially more secure -- properly done, I'll trust cryptography long before I'll trust the postal service.

    Same with vehicle licensing, passports, housing, everything else they mention -- again, which of these is something you used to be able to do anonymously? In what way does merely putting these in a web browser make it easier to keep an eye on you?

    Even if you find some marginal benefit to paper -- and it will be marginal -- is it worth the cost, the increased amount of fuel burned transporting it, the paper, the increased amount of fuel used to harvest the wood, make the paper, and recycle/destroy/bury it once used? How about the increased cost to the state of employing all those people to deal with the paper -- the same people who are currently whining about losing their jobs -- how much would it be worth to have them doing something actually productive instead of something a webserver could do for them?

  • by Jezral (449476) <mail@tinodidriksen.com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:51PM (#31553488) Homepage

    Denmark already has a similar thing. We can perform most actions dealing with the government online, and we even get a gratis certificate for digital signing and encryption of emails. I haven't had to go to a government or city office in years.

  • by hyfe (641811) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:04PM (#31553572)

    We have a single website for this in Norway already (norge.no), it's bloody usefull. Everything you need from the government is either there, or linked to from it. They even run free phone/sms/e-mail support.

    There's nothing sinister about it, it certainly hasn't magically removed the bourecrazy, but it is another of the many small reasons I'm slightly smug to be norwegian; The land where stuff for the most part just works (which still doesn't stop people from whining though).

  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:12PM (#31553626)

    o_O

    Er... you can get ADSL broadband for £6 (around $9) a month. That's (up to) 8Mb/s with a 10GB cap.

    Perhaps your friend is very, very hard up, but although the UK doesn't have the cheapest broadband in the world, it's really not that bad, either. I think it compares reasonably well with the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:19PM (#31553662)

    I don't see why we would lose access to these experts just because they are no longer civil servants. It sounds like those people have valuable knowledge, which they could offer privately for a fee just as they have done as a public servant.

    I am suggesting that they take their knowledge and skill and open up shop offering their services as private business owners. Those that take advantage of their services can pay their fees. True they lose the reliable government jobs, but as entrepreneurs the reward is there if they are good at what they do. They have been given government sponsored training, and on the job experience.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Haeleth (414428) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @07:55AM (#31556650) Journal

    If public-sector workers actually had inflated salaries and benefits far in excess of the private sector, and did jobs that required no thought or skill, then you'd have a point.

    It's true that the mean public-sector wage in Britain is higher than the mean private-sector wage. Why is this the case? Because all the low-paying public-sector jobs have been outsourced to the private sector. If you try comparing like for like, public-sector workers doing equivalent jobs do not earn more than they would in the private sector. In most cases they earn significantly less.

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