Thursday, 14 July 2016

A consultation offer from the Borg.

If you have a mind to you can read the grand plans for the digital takeover of Jersey .  See  Digital Policy Framework  Helpfully they even tell you what questions you should consider and respond to.  My advice - dont' bother. There are much bigger better questions and issues then those you are invited to consider.

You might also wonder if it is worth your time.  As this press released item digital jersey and population office  demonstrates it has already been agreed that 30 licenses will be given to the digital sector ahead of any outcome of  the consultation. As they say in politics: never ask in public a question to which you do not already know the answer.   Where I would like to know is the research to demonstrate we do not have the skills and knowledge locally?  How does Digital Jersey  and the Population Office account for having highly skilled and experienced local software developers in the island working in other sectors ?  Why cannot it attract them (hint: it isn't about the money).

The policy document reminds me of the sort of think I used to read in the '90's working on AI systems and research.  Lots of overblown and politically unacceptable stuff from business and tech heads on what is possible, lots of big claims economically about transformation etc, but almost nothing on societal impact, ethics or principles. More of a sales and marketing pitch than a policy discussion  and certainly not a well rounded integrated piece.

How about a few quotes from the draft.

'Where will Jersey be in another 10 years?'  That is the only time frame I can see in the document.  It is not inappropriate to have a 10 year view, but tricky  - I'll come on to some the technological changes others expect to happen in the next ten years another day. See if you think some of these other quotes make sense on a ten year view, if  they are in fact acceptable at all.
“Digital technology will be the backbone of Jersey's economic activity”.   Bye-bye finance?

“Digital will be the default format for all economic activity”. Yes by default Jersey Royals will be exported digitally.  3D print your own Royals on demand , perhaps.   

How about page 7 " Government has responsibility to ensure every Islander has the skills they need to thrive in a digital economy."  Sound sensible to you?  How about if I rewrote it as Government has responsibility to ensure every Islander has the skills they need to thrive in a finance based economy  or Government has responsibility to ensure every Islander has the skills they need to thrive in a car based society." NO.

The centrally planned economy dictated from our authoritarian overlords doesn't stop at telling us what jobs we may work at.   Under government digital transformation we have 9. Develop and implement an effective Digital ID for all Islanders.
Yes under the new totally digital economy you will be uniquely identified.  Every move interaction and location will have the potential to be tracked, logged  and preserved by the government for what means?     You think they wont?  Not our nice friendly cuddly Government, surely! 

Try this then, they are thinking to collect your personal data to sell to private companies.  Truly.  
Make better use of government data for the benefit of the public and private sector: Alongside the direct advantages of moving government services online, Islanders will also benefit indirectly from the wealth of data these services will provide. This data will enable public officials to make better policy decisions, based on more detailed and up-to-date evidence. Furthermore, if this data could be made available to the private sector, the benefits could be multiplied. The public sector – both government and state owned companies – in Jersey collects a wealth of data that, if disseminated appropriately, has the potential to be a useful raw material for digital businesses in the Island.

I like the throw away comment, cited as a challenge " A small minority of Islanders still do not have access to the internet".  They will be complaining that using cash  undermines the digital economy next.  That is the choice people must have in an open society.  It may be very inconvenient  to Ministers perception of the Island as a business , but we are not all slaves or State employees. 

I have a different way of looking at these things.  I see computers/ IT /digital to be the servant of people, not the tools to trap, ensnare  and control them.  I think Government should be a tool of the people....

If you give up your freedom to really choose for a few paper token of fiat currency , you will end up with no individual identity, no personal choice beyond which part you would like to be in the great machine.  

1 comment:

  1. Jerry Gosselin19 July 2016 at 20:29

    I'm glad you have raised your concerns about this because nobody in the States Assembly is bothered enough - that's for sure.

    According to the Jersey Annual Social Survey 2013, "82% of residents had access to the internet (unchanged from 2010)". So 18% don't and the fact that this percentage didn't change in 3 years maybe hints that this statistic won't drastically change in the short term. The estimated population of Jersey in 2015 was 102,700 so that is many thousands of islanders without access for sure.

    It seems that these Digital Policy zealots will be relying very heavily on the services at Jersey Library to try to force those 18% online. Well it is access of a sort, if you have no other means. I went in there recently to get internet access and I observed how the atmosphere has become less welcoming than it used to be. You have to show your library card to book a terminal, which has admittedly been the case for some years. However, you now also have to log on at your terminal before access is permitted and then the clock begins ticking. If you overstay your agreed time by just seconds, you lose whatever you were working on, such as an unfinished e-mail. Quite obviously, the logging on/logging off system combined with a Library Card allows the States to know exactly WHO has viewed what when they were using the service. It is so overtly NOT private. In addition, I have known for several years that pages on certain political sites such as Planet Jersey can be inaccessible from Library computers because of the filtering software in use. And of course it is easy for other Library users just to view what you're viewing by looking over your shoulder. Given a choice, no thanks!

    I am very worried by the powers already contained in the Register of Names and Addresses Law and how the States will continue to use (abuse?) subordinate legislation to gradually commit function creep over a period of time. I tried to lobby against this Law and its sister law - the Control of Housing and Work Law - before they were debated in 2011. My own Deputy did not bother to turn up for the debate despite having received an e-mail from me. Only 1 States Member actually opposed the Register law on the principles and 2 opposed the Control of Housing and Work Law.

    The highly-paid bureaucrats pushing this new Digital Policy Framework are only too aware of this long tradition in the States Assembly of total deference to the executive and the reluctance to properly debate, scrutinise or oppose executive propositions. Quite simply, they will be able to ignore civil and human rights issues that they would not be able to ignore on the UK mainland or in many EU Member States. No wonder they're all so enthusiastic to keep things moving ahead as quickly as possible...