Should Government consolidate citizen identities across it’s systems?

Interesting approach on the subject of “One Consolidated View of the Citizen” by Richard Allen who outlines the arguments against having a common identifier against citizens in Government databases. The gist of his argument can be found in the last paragraph where he states:

So, to summarise. One common identifier across all government systems means less work in the short term but is much riskier for those charged with guarding each dataset. Different identifiers that can still be linked with proper authority require a proper defined regime of access control and are therefore safer for both citizens and officials who hold data about citizens.

I’ve always approached the issue from a problem-solving point of view, where a particular requirement necessitates the consolidation and cross-referencing of data across different systems; and a common identifier would be a panacea for solving such issues. And I was also born and raised in a culture where a common identifier was used by everyone.

In Malta, an ID number is assigned to citizens at birth; and it’s used ubiquitously throughout different organisations, both government and commercial. It’s interesting to hear the argument made against a common identifier and I suppose at a pragmatic level it bears some weight. The truth is, with or without a common identifier; if someone is determined to mine information about an individual or organisation, there are ways and means of correlating such information to a reasonable level of confidence whether a common identifier exists or not. Personally I think it’s up to the individual whether he wants that correlation to happen or not, but with the level that technology permeates every facet of our life today; it takes some serious effort to stop it from happening.

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