PLAN “LESS ABOUT WHAT GOVERNMENT IS DOING WITH ITS OWN DATA THAN WHAT IT’S DOING WITH CITIZENS’ DATA,” B.C. CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION SAYS
With the unwieldy title of “Citizens @ The Centre: B.C. Government 2.0 – A transformation and technology strategy for the B.C. Public Service,” the document starts out okay. Defining principles have phrases like “empower citizens,” “save citizens’ time,” and “encourage collaboration.”
Rather quickly, however, it becomes apparent that “transforming” government will mean a lot more citizen DIY and a lot fewer civil servants…
Accessibility, convenience, open networks, sharing data and “exciting opportunities for citizens to directly engage with their government.” That’s what it promises, possibly using a single card that consolidates your driver’s licence with your health card.
But on the second page of the document’s introduction, there’s the first of many red flags about this techno-utopia.
Existing policies and legislation that protect personal privacy are described as “barriers” to data sharing that need to be “resolved” to “enable better delivery of service.”
The heart of Government 2.0 is “a lot less about what government is doing with its own data than what it’s doing with citizens’ data,” says Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. At its core, the plan is to link citizen information held by different ministries, gathered under different programs and culled from private-sector contractors. In the old days, she says, these would have been called citizen dossiers and used for surveillance.
Further, she says, the government is for “flat out expropriating our personal information from the private sector and ‘transforming’ it into government information.”
Seem far-fetched? Consider her examples…