Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Brian Leapman

  I am Brian Leapman and I was the author of the Diamond vision paper produced by SITPRO Business Process Analysis Working Group that was used to get the various UK Ministries to sign up to the concept of joined up government and the Single Window concept. I am presently involved in a project to build an Interoperability Service Utility ISU that will provide interoperability and collaboration capability across multiple organisations, businesses and regulators seamlessly for the cost of a phone call that we are attempting to get EU funding for The EU commission has made this one of their infrastructure priorities for the development of the EU.

  An ISU will be able to take feeds of structured and unstructured information from databases, applications, emails, conversations and videos and deliver the information to the user in a search engine capability. The media and content makes no difference to the comprehension of the information as relational semantic is used that is language independent.

  In our application for funding we have highlighted an important social issue:

    —    At one level the ISU is a great tool in that it provides a customised view of the world to the needs of the individual or organisation. This is called the Multi Single Window MSW.

    —    At the same time it gives the possibility as a result of seamless interoperability the possibility of government being able to obtain the Single Multi Window SMW the omni view. This is the BIG BROTHER fear that society quite rightly is concerned about.

  Technically, we cannot create the MSW without the possibility of creating the SMW and whilst the first is desirable the second outcome is not so desirable particularly if the power is abused.

  The issue around the SMW is not that it can occur:

    —    But under what circumstances?

    —    What are the controls on that power?

    —    How do we make sure that the power is not abused?

  Technology it should be remembered is neutral. IT IS THE USERS WHO ARE EITHER BENEFICIAL OR MALEVOLANT TO SOCIETY whether the terrorist, the individual, business or government.

  Some of the risk can be mitigated through the instigation and provision of Role Access User Digest provision of information. We are building this into the architecture of our ISU. In very simple terms the enquiring user, which could be the government, can get the salient information without access to information that is not regarded as relevant or that is personal to the individual or organisation. I call it the Reader's Digest version you get all the salient information without having to waylay through the whole story.

  For instance, let us say that the police want to know if someone had been in hospital on a set of dates. If we expose the full medical record; they would have private information that really the police have no use for or need for, and that an individual officer could use improperly. However, in the Role Access User Digest model, the police information receives a reduced report from the medical record that shows only the dates and time of entry and exit. Let us say there was some relationship between the entry into hospital and a particular crime. That search request would be sent to the hospital, the police would be denied entry to the search until the hospital had satisfied itself of the necessity to reveal the additional information.

  Whilst this may not be the actual scenario, I hope I have illustrated the way well designed process management can be used within the technology to mitigate the risks of the abuse of the Multi Single Window.

  In my opinion, there will be an increasing need for a standing body, somewhat like the Audit Commission, made up of professional business and technical process architects, security experts with an element of legal council that has the power to independently investigate abuses of government intrusion and liberty, with the right to independently audit government departments and agencies and to provide recommendations of functional improvement.

  The issue of government and the wider society battling over intrusion towards a surveillance society is going to be a continual ongoing concern for all parties. At the same time government is charged with the creation of a more interoperable collaborative and visible open society. They are in essence two sides of the same coin. Our suggestion is the creation of an independent entity charged to maintain the benefits with as little compromise as is technically possible to the freedom of the individual and organisations.

March 2007

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