This will not be the big technology story today, but this is incredibly concerning: "Big tech
should be persuaded to provide, for free, the wiring of our social infrastructure.”

If you were wondering, my respone is no, no, no, no, no.
In a democracy, social infrastructure should be decoupled from ad tech and surveillance.
In fact, in this report, I have called for the reverse - for a Community Tech Stack. If you support that, please do get in touch. Contact details on the website.
I gather from others that there is much to be pleased about in other aspects of the report, so I will do a closer read and response later - but two urgent questions on this proposal for now:
1) How can data-driven services be created without access to data?

2) UK regulators don’t have the capacity to enforce existing laws or keep up with the status quo - is it possible for “Big Tech” to be more deeply implicated in social infrastructure in a rights-respecting ways?
And FWIW, I did submit a response to the consultation - published here…

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More from @rachelcoldicutt

17 Nov
Hey! Guess what, I’m still mulling over the National Data Strategy, and I think - thanks to @altrishaw - I have realised what the fundamental flaw is with the aim to use data to build a fairer society, and I need a hand, pls, to articulate that clearly and accurately. (1/n)
I’ve mentioned that the NDS doesn’t sufficiently differentiate between different kinds of data: data about things is viewed as the same kind of utility as data about people - in the sweep of the strategy, roads and bridges don’t seem to be that diff to eg suicide ideation. (2/n)
But that is only one part of the problem - the other part is that it doesn’t differentiate between different kinds of *decision*. And this is where I need a hand - I assume there are useful statistical and/or legal models here to describe this (?). (3/n)
Read 8 tweets
25 Oct
Argggghhhhhh where is the laundry-sorting robot why is this not real.
Has anyone who lives with other people successfully implemented a multi-basket system, where the clothes wearer sorts their clothes into the laundry-cycle appropriate basket? (One for cottons, one for synthetics, one for towels etc?)
Of course this would depend on clothes being put in the basket in the first place, not eg under the bed. Which is the first flaw in the plan.
Read 4 tweets
23 Oct
Hang on hang on I’m reading the IfG Digital Gov report and it actually says information about civil servants’ skills could be “inferred … from the contents of their emails”.…
Quite the way to get people to make more phone calls.
Reading that paper made me sad because it’s not very good but will probably be cited and influential because of who published it :-(
Read 5 tweets
23 Oct
Sorry, I am all Qs at the moment, BUT if I wanted to pitch a short piece about why the National Data Strategy is a v big deal for charity leaders and equality champions, who should I speak to? The tl;dr would be, “Let’s stop more data-driven screw ups!"
Compelling egs include: ppl with low credit scores can’t get certain Covid test; how biased policing data plays a part in social interventions, esp for young Black men; and let’s not have another A level algo debacle. I would be pithy and non-techie and perhaps even make JOKES.
One day someone will ask me to do a short stand-up routine data-driven inequalities, but until then a small regular column - say - would be excellent.
Read 4 tweets
22 Oct
I’ve written a briefing note on the social impact of the National Data Strategy. I would like to say it’s short but unfortunately it’s 6000 words long. There’s a very short Medium post though:…
The object of the note is to help people answer Q3 of the consultation, on the impact of the strategy for people with protected characteristics. The tl;dr is that the National Data Strategy risks centralising power and entrenching many structural biases.
In my analysis, the National Data Strategy is important for everyone because it is about power and decision making. The term “data” makes it sound like a technical document, but it is sociotechnical, with broad social and economic implications.
Read 4 tweets
18 Oct
Fun little nugget I just discovered in the National Data Strategy is the action in s.4.2.1 to “implement the recommendations of the Joined up data in government” paper…
The paper describes itself as setting out to, "engage with the data linkage community across government, academia, the third sector and internationally to understand challenges faced and identify state-of-the-art data linking methods to help realise those benefits."
But I’d go as far as saying it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It comes across as a fairly technocratic guide to improving methodologies. Privacy experts are better placed than I to assess its approach to Privacy-Preserving Record Linkage. But - dear reader - it buries the lede.
Read 10 tweets

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