Keeping paper voting: right policy, wrong reason

In six days, Britons will use stubby little pencils to put crosses next to people’s names on pieces of paper. In each of 650 areas, the person with the most crosses becomes a member of parliament. If more than half of those MPs come from one party, that party forms a government and its leader is prime minister. It’s easy to understand and trust.

If someone hacks your bank account, you will notice and will probably be able to get recompense. If someone hacks an election, you are unlikely to know unless your votes was published – which would rather undermine the concept of a secret ballot. Also, we can all understand people counting pieces of paper. Very few of us, including apparently many NHS organisations, can say likewise for computer security. Continue reading “Keeping paper voting: right policy, wrong reason”

Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects has published my article on Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s problems bringing in eHospital, a £200m IT system based around software from Epic and hardware from HP. While the trust initially reported all was going well, eHospital has recently been fingered by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission as contributing to the trust’s problems.

I spoke to a number of people with knowledge of eHospital, including this former IT employee of the trust who spoke on condition of anonymity: Continue reading “Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects”

Making digital journalism pay: doable. Making a living: difficult

I was one of three speakers at an NUJ Oxford event last Thursday on how to make digital journalism pay. A theme developed: it is perfectly realistic for journalists to make money out of digital journalism, but the problem comes from making a decent living.

Tim Dawson, vice-president of the National Union of Journalists and a long-time writer and editor for The Sunday Times, spoke first. He has literally written the book on this area, Help Yourself – new ways to make money from writing. (It’s also available free for NUJ members – details here.) He outlined some of the methods for doing this, which could be divided into three types: advertising-funded, marketing for other business and reader-funded. (More on his New Model Journalism site here.) Continue reading “Making digital journalism pay: doable. Making a living: difficult”

2013: ANPR, Scotland’s IT, NHS whistleblowers, ID cards… and Thatcher

My big journalism project this year was co-editing ‘Ring of steel’ for MATTER, on police use of ANPR, published in August. It is now available to read for free on Medium, where you can also read further commentary by me on the subject. In ‘Ring of steel’, writer James Bridle explored the subject widely, partly through drawing on the wealth of material released by Devon and Cornwall Police in its successful defence of secrecy over the location of its 45 automatic numberplate recognition cameras. The main points had first appeared in the Guardian news article I co-wrote in August 2012, but the MATTER article allowed the evidence to be explored fully. Continue reading “2013: ANPR, Scotland’s IT, NHS whistleblowers, ID cards… and Thatcher”

ID cards are dead but ‘your papers please’ lives on: for the Register

One of the great fears of those who campaigned against ID cards in Britain was that, as soon as the cards were in place, officialdom would start inventing reasons to demand to see them – the ‘your papers please’ problem, that a police officer or official in a country with ID cards demands to see your papers just to show who’s boss. To quote Richard Littlejohn, writing in the Sun in 1994 and quoted by Matthew Engel in the Guardian (and how often does that happen?): Continue reading “ID cards are dead but ‘your papers please’ lives on: for the Register”