In case you missed the news – the UK will exit the European Union in the coming years with the aim of gaining sovereign control of the nations future without the interference from the other 27 member states. Whatever your views on the rights or wrongs of this decision – the outlook for the future and the UK’s role on the world stage – one global influence on the UK that is unlikely to alter will be the digital / cyber sphere. Whilst undoubtedly governments can and do moderate the online world’s influence on their citizens, national borders on the world wide web are far harder to control than in the physical world.
A recent celebrity super injunction was challenged in the UK courts on the basis that the information it sought to protect was freely available and easily accessible on the internet for sites hosted and governed by other jurisdictions. When it comes to cyber security, digital identity and online regulation, the larger the physical jurisdiction, the more global influence exists in how the online world operates.
At a recent digital / cyber / identity / security event that I attended, a relatively senior UK civil servant was presenting on behalf of their department’s view of upcoming EU cyber legislation; during the presentation they referenced a meeting earlier that day with the newly appointed cabinet minister for their department on what the opportunities post-Brexit were for the UK in cyber industries. When asked for the outcomes from this topic the response was “I don’t think its appropriate for me to comment on that here”. This was a room full of subject matter exerts from academic, industry and public sector looking for guidance and insight from the UK government – what more appropriate time could there have been to discuss this?
The UK currently plays a leading role in global cyber policy – providing thought leadership, global policy and development of international standards on a range of topics. We simply cannot afford to lose our voice and influence if we’re to achieve the sovereign control that the decision to leave that EU was intended to deliver. That means having strong leadership that gives a clear roadmap on the UK strategy for how we will adopt and interoperate with globally agreed objectives. We simply cannot afford to be inward looking when it comes to the digital world.
The EU has a strategy for the Digital Single Market – so not only will we be negotiating our position in the physical Single Market, we’ll also be negotiating our relationship in the digital one too. One of the key component of this Digital Single Market will be the electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market regulations (otherwise known as eIDAS). The eIDAS regulations aim to enable secure and seamless electronic interactions between businesses, citizens and public authorities with electronic ID (eID) and electronic trust services (eTS). Having a common framework for interoperability that permits cross border transactions is a key building block of the Digital Single Market. The member states transacting in this market have standards based implementation of identity schemes, electronic signatures & seals, delivery services and website authentication. All these electronic trust services will have legal validity within the member states.
In eID, the UK Government have their interoperable eIDAS aligned service GOV.UK Verify – so on the face of it we’ll be able to access the Digital Single Market at least from this perspective; except that along with “the new way to prove who you are online” the GOV.UK platform is still promoting registration to the old way – Government Gateway; even for the services listed under the new way, the old way is still prevalent and often more prominent. So our inward looking approach is already being promoted above the needs of the outward EU interoperable standard.
The answer to what are the opportunities for UK cyber industry post-Brexit are reliant on an updated Government Digital Strategy; we need to know whether we’re going to be more Estonia than North Korea as a nation when we have reclaimed our sovereignty. We need bold leadership that outlines what our ambition is on the global stage; industry needs to know that digital UK has a return available on their investment; academia need to know the skills that future generations will need and they need to know that funding sources aren’t going to be strangled by our unwillingness to operate with a global outlook.
If government can’t control its own departments under a single digital strategy whilst we’re faced with EU regulation being imposed, then what message does this send for our post-Brexit future? We simply cannot afford to go it alone in the digital sphere – our opportunity to provide the thought leadership and influence of innovation, security, regulation and standardisation needs to be increased, not diminished.
The UK Government is embarking in it’s biggest transformation programme ever – my earlier post on why transformation programmes fail, Rip it up and start again, highlights the importance of a clear strategy and vision. In the digital sector we need to know how we plan to come together, otherwise we risk being very alone.
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Rip it up and start again – The successful Business Transformation
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Bryn Robinson-Morgan is an independent Business Consultant with interests in Identity Assurance, Agile Organisational Design and Customer Centric Architecture. Bryn has near 20 years experience working with some of the United Kingdom’s leading brands and largest organisations.
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Source: bryn blog