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11:14 pm, March 4th, 2017 - 45 comments
Categories: accountability, Annette King, benefits, bill english, child welfare, discrimination, employment, equality, Ethics, families, human rights, poverty, Social issues, Spying, unemployment, welfare - Tags:
First they came for the budgeting services. Now we know that every social service agency has to provide clients’ private personal data to the Ministry of Social Development or get no funding. Apparently it’s essential to Bill English’s much-touted and little understood “social investment” strategy, which is sounding more like something out of Orwell’s 1984.
The Ministry says that it needs the information to make its social investment work. But it doesn’t join the dots to explain why it is so necessary. Brenda Pilott who was an experienced policy adviser says she can’t see the line from information to outcome, and Kathryn Ryan, fast becoming a national treasure, could not get an answer out of Ministry Deputy Secretary Murray Edridge about why anonymised information would not do as well.
There are serious privacy issues and the Privacy Commissioner is investigating. Brenda Pilott raises the obvious concern that requiring agencies to collect personal data, which means they have to notify the person concerned, will drive people away from the help they need, creating a bigger problem.
We’re way past the nanny state, this is the big brother state. Big data is all the rage, as Facebook, FiveEyes and Waihopai hoover up and use all our personal communications.
I tried to find out the Labour Party’s view on all this. A website search revealed three passing mentions, the most detailed from from Annette King. Googling “labour party social investment” produced “Decrypting social investment” from Rob Salmond last year in his blog Polity. Rob Salmond is a big data man, and he is generally in favour of investment, but I don’t think his definition was the same as the government’s.
Salmond referred to a study done by Deloittes on social investment. Deloittes priority as usual was to head off tax raises and government spending, but they did avert to some problems with the idea. Their first principle was to have “clarity on key measurable outcomes.” The measurables on the Ministry’s website could be met without personal identification it seems to me. It looks like the private information will only be useful for tracking purposes which is intrusive.
Back to big data. Successful political parties are moving away from over-reliance on data to “having conversations.” Might be a good idea if MSD did the same.