Ann Rossiter, writing on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, defends government data-sharing plans against the criticisms of A C Grayling and others.
Whatever New Labour is doing it is not, as AC Grayling wrongly suggested here, leading us towards some “bureaucratic despotism”, warned of by Weber. Look at current reforms – as many have been about limiting bureaucracy, through choice and market instruments, as have been about targets or management power. The best of New Labour’s reforms have been about empowering people, moving influence away from the monolith towards the individual.
Successful data sharing will do the same. It will make information reflect citizens’ priorities not bureaucratic priorities. To do this the government must identify which services people expect to work together and what must remain separate. Data sharing should not provide an information free-for-all; it should be limited by people’s patterns of interaction with the state, doing no more than meeting the legitimate demands of service users for a good service.
Data sharing can improve how government works for people, it can respect people’s different valuations of privacy, and it should be pursued together with increased citizen oversight of government. To ensure any of this happens, we must think about what we expect of government and what sort of data sharing can deliver this.
However, many of those commenting on her article are sceptical.