Access to information is a critical component of LIFE not only because it is vital to maintaining the transparency of government but also because it is an essential mechanism to enabling the material infrastructure for society, including micro economics. It is also crudely obvious, although sadly often absent, that modern societies must adopt public policies on the collection, storage and dissemination of information because modern technologies have enabled all of these aspects on a scale almost unimaginable only a few decades ago.

We can leverage the seven layer model of LIFE as a lens through which to craft policies that both protect freedom and promote the greater good of society. As always, the seven layer model starts with the individual at its core and, in the matter of information policy, this is about enshrining the privacy of the individual and their rights of access and review to all information held about them, on all public and private systems. For this reason the core of identity management must remain within the Community layer, for at no other level will it be possible to as authentically verify identity.

xID4The greatest opportunities for the abuse of information exist in places which accumulate the largest amounts of personably attributable data. To guard against such abuse, it must be standard operating policy to separate the storage of different kinds of information and to create storage silos at the lowest level of the seven layer model that is practical in any given society. Each layer of government need only have access to information that pertains directly to services that that layer is responsible for providing and should only store that same information. Interlayer transfer of information must be subject to the assent and authorization of all the layers involved and all the individuals whose information is contained therein and even then such transfers do not include a right to store.

To enable the universal right of every citizen to information access, it will be practically important for certain responsibilities to be assumed at different layers, for instance communications standards such as Internet Protocol and HTML are best established for the whole world. At the other end of the scale, Communities are best placed to provision local access facilities, such as public access booths, and local communications networks that reach all of the citizens of the community in the most effective way possible. However it is just as important that communications networks reach across all of the boundaries of the seven layer model and so the provisioning of interstate and inter-territorial networks will be the responsibility of different layers of government. This infrastructure of communications networks is so vital to the functioning of society and so encumbered with the necessity to protect personal privacy and freedom, that it is necessarily a vital social asset, the ownership and control of which belongs to the citizenry, irrespective of any commercial entities that may be employed to operate or provision it.

So there are three legs to the stool that will support beneficial use of information for all:

  • the right to review and challenge information
  • public ownership of communications networks
  • segregated storage silos, devolved as far down as possible

The role of information in the enabling of microeconomics cannot be underestimated because it is information technology that creates the marketplaces that allow micro-needs to be met by micro-producers. While there is undoubtedly a role for commercial entities to improve and enhance such marketplaces with imagination and innovation, it is the role of government to ensure that at least a base level of market interactivity is possible and universally accessible. It must also be the right of every citizen to conduct a transaction, within the law, on a peer-to-peer basis without necessarily involving either government or third-party commercial entities.

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