John Edwards writes about the risks of government by WhatsApp

06/03/2023 | The Guardian

In an article for The Telegraph (£) on Friday evening, Information Commissioner John Edwards spoke about the importance of transparency and maintaining a public record of private transcripts. In relation to WhatsApp, Mr Edwards highlighted that it's not the specific platform that's the issue, but rather that the means of communication raises procedural issues. Transparency is essential if we are to learn from our experiences. More importantly, he said, "When the stakes are so high, we cannot rely on individuals’ recollections. We cannot rely on tranches of WhatsApp messages stored on a person’s phone." The ICO released a statement earlier in the day on Friday following the release of the Lockdown Files. 

In a related post, Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian that ministers and officials (subject to parliamentary accountability) should be able to discuss and disagree on policy in private. The article references a 2006 article about sofa government, where good practices were abandoned, such as the importance of "assembling civil servants for ministerial meetings at which minutes are taken and decisions formally recorded is discovered to possess virtue after all." 

UPDATE: 060323 - The ICO has now published a copy of the full article: The Lockdown Files will help us learn from the experience of Covid.

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