Open Data KoolAid

Hi guys, what’s up? Has the DataStart thing appeared on your radar? Maybe it should.

Digital KoolAid noticed a report in The Register (read it) about a “public-private partnership” (heard that old gem before, bet you have) to “support data-driven innovation”. Sure, we loved it too. Here’s a taste:


The DataStart program is going to “create opportunities for Australian tech startups to develop sustainable businesses through access to open government data” (which is about as exciting as your prose can get when it has to get departmental, ministerial and legal sign-off before it hits the Internet).

So, the best and brightest jumped on the band wagon ASAP, and now a great tsunami of “innovation” is crashing on the shores of The Lucky Country. How lucky do you feel about your personal details being sold off by the Commonwealth? The Register reports that the relevant minister, that’s foreign minister Julie Bishop elevated her cloud passport from “dumb idea that won a prize” to “dumb idea that won a prize and is now the subject of international negotiations”. Her buddy Health minister Sussan Ley was caught musing that individuals’ health data could be sold to private entities to improve their ability to make apps: and money we guess.


You already noticed that in Australia we Imitate to Innovate and you knew that the Government Digital Service (that’s the GDS in the UK) was trying to create a commercial “market” in identity. The chance that we Imitate Wildly about ID is more than a chance. It looks like a dead cert.

20151118cNow, if you know how the Commonwealth actually operates during War Time there’s a little problem here. Digital KoolAid knows that Canberra is in lock-down mode. The geeks and ninjas don’t get to start their new jobs without Security Clearances. Since 2001 everything has become a security matter. Slowly and steadily we have put Secret Government in place, plus a load of really tough penalties to discourage you from spilling the beans once you are an insider. That’s because like in WWII “lose lips sink ships”. No leaks tolerated. Nothing should get out. It’s us and them. We work here and they don’t. We know, and they never will.


But here’s where things get really weird. Just when we got this Secret Government thing going your Commonwealth started talking loudly about a “public-private partnership to support data-driven innovation”. That’s your secure data that the baddies want so badly so they can turn off your electricity, make your bus arrive late and get the name on your dog license wrong. Baddies are always some Acronym who wants to use YOUR data to do evil. George Osborne in the UK is sure of it.


When you think about these competing forces, openness, innovation and startups <-V–> security, military and baddies, you might see a tug of war. Digital KoolAid sees a competition where the people who oppose open data have a large, unfair advantage. But the Open Data KoolAid is already flowing freely, and Ministers assisting other Ministers are spruiking hard (apparently “in Israel it is okay to fail” and waste all the money). The noise level is rising so watch this space for everything that doesn’t happen next.




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