The deputy leader of the UK opposition, the Labour Party, has stated the government “must act” to secure the country’s digital progress.
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UK’s ‘World-Beating’ Digital Services Under Threat
Tom Watson, who was the UK’s first dedicated minister for digital engagement when Labour was in power, described government processes as undergoing a “digital revolution” but that this was now under threat in the wake of Brexit.
Specifically, the government organ responsible for implementing a range of digital advancements for citizens since 2010, the so-called Government Digital Service (GDS), is now subject to disintegration, Watson says.
“The UK is now genuinely world-beating in the [digital services] area,” he wrote, citing the Wall Street Journal’s 2014 appraisal of GDS as “the gold-standard in the global world of digital government.”
Watson continued that the country’s “digital journey is still at an early stage.” The threat to GDS comes in the form of staff and developers being redistributed elsewhere, with government departments working on changes separately rather than collaboratively.
“We should aim to build a new digital civic infrastructure on which a radically equitable, empathetic and efficient state can be built,” he added.
Blockchain Govt’s Mixed Reviews
The UK has indeed been produced some unexpectedly supportive legislation in recent years helping simplify bureaucracy for citizens and even save them money. Legal documents, for example, can now be downloaded thanks to GDS, potentially saving on costly legal fees and consultation.
Most recently, the government announced a trial of blockchain technology in an attempt to shake up the UK benefits system. While its collaborators cooed over their creation of a “platform which will improve people’s lives,” Watson remained skeptical. Describing the benefits system scheme as “ill-advised,” he added:
It planned to use the cryptographic payments system pioneered by digital currencies like Bitcoin to restrict the items claimants could spent their money on – so no cigarettes or alcohol, for example, only food and other essentials.
He pledged that under a Labour government, digital progress and the fate of GDS itself would be preserved.
Bureaucracy on the Blockchain
Meanwhile, countries such as Estonia have likewise been making keen progress in deconstructing needlessly complex legacy bureaucracy using digital innovation.
The country, whose bureaucratic system was ripe for cleansing of the infamous inefficiencies of Soviet administration, has sought to maximize citizens’ abilities for autonomy. Through its e-Residency scheme, even non-Estonians can set up a bank account and even start a business in the country.
Regarding Bitcoin specifically, however, the government has recently taken a less favorable stance.
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