Why do Politicians Understand So Little? Our Fault or Theirs?

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Issue/Topic: Why do Politicians Understand So Little? Our Fault or Theirs?

Convener: Dave Birch

Session: 4D

Conference: IIW-Europe October 11, London Complete Notes Page

Notes-taker(s): Dave Birch

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:


Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

I asked the group to help me to develop a narrative around digital identity to help to explain it to politicians, to help them to make good decisions about identity infrastructure.

We discussed a series of paradoxes that might be resolved through digital ID technology and wondered how we might explain these to politicians in order to get action.

Paradox 1: The China Syndrome

Why do politicians want anonymous internet access for free speech in China but not in the UK because of terrorism, paedophiles, stalkers etc etc

Paradox 2: The Chatroom Syndrome

Why do we expect disclosure from other people but don't want to disclose ouservles.

Paradox 3: The Baby Picture Syndrome

Why is it OK to let a baby play naked in the garden where it can be seen by neighbours but not on the web

Paradox 4: The Common Sense Syndrome

When the virtual world has no characteristics in common with the physical world, why to we simulate physical ID

Paradox 5: The Children Syndrome

Why is any ridiculous restriction on online activity proposed in order to protect children

Paradox 6: The Ayatollah Syndrome

Do you want bad guys using twitter or not using twitter

Paradox 7: The Google Syndrome

If the government can "break into" the identity infrastructure, then so can the bad guys.

Paradox 8: The Special Needs Syndrome

Every sector of the economy thinks that its identity needs are special and more important, they can't all be right

Paradox 9: The Whisteblower Syndrome

We want people to blow the whistle but they won't if they can be identified

Paradox 10: The Dangerous Dogs Syndrome

Something must be done about identity -- but it doesn't matter if it makes sense or not

Paradox 11: "The Method" Syndrome

Politicians seem to prefer security theatre to security.

Paradox 12: Pass-the-Parcel Syndrome

Everyone wants something done, but no-one wants the problem.

We then had a very good discussion about the elements of a narrative, which was much to involved to transcribe, but the group did come up with one or two suggestions that mae sense. These included focusing on saving money rather than other benefits, perhaps engaging administrations on the specific issue of digital ID as a way to manage the electronic delivery of public services and less about freedom of speech, law and orders, human rights and other less tangible things that have no votes in them. I can't remember who said it, but someone commented that when it comes to mass-market identity implementations, sub-optimal may be better.

A couple of other tips from the crowd: "fight fire with soundbites" and "use rhetorical tricks" because, I suppose, politicians respect them.