Sharing is dead! Long live sharing!

Sometimes, when contemplating a problem, it can be helpful to turn it around and look at it from the opposite direction. In the UK and Europe, the focus of information governance is on the guarding and protection of data (“stewardship”, as the BCS calls it) so as to limit the sharing of that data. In the US following the events of 9/11, which was widely perceived as a major US intelligence and information sharing failure because of the “need to know” mindset, the entire intelligence community was re-organized and the whole way in which information is to be managed and shared has been revolutionized, with the emphasis on the “responsibility to provide”. Even though the thrust of these actions is within the US Intelligence Community, their work clearly has relevance to wider considerations of government information sharing.

Far from creating a “Wild West” environment of careless information sharing, the strategy is heavily focussed on security – albeit as much from the perspective of protecting the information gathering techniques (“sources and methods”) as the information itself, but the approach could also be valuable in the European context where the same security principles and provisions can safeguard the information to meet data protection concerns as well as ensuring the integrity of the systems used to collect and process that information. Tightly controlled sharing can be seen as the counterpart to tightly controlled access. This summary of recent reports has been prepared to help illuminate and inform the discussions on information sharing currently taking place in the UK

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