A note on IT Integrity and authority

I posted an article that had taken a long time to get approval for on my employer’s blog, Information Integrity, the final frontier. I argue that the business has not taken integrity as seriously as it has availability and confidentiality. In the blog, I state that,

Information integrity requires an accurate representation of the state of the business and the audit records as to how it got there. Modern systems need to record both; it’s not enough that the system is provably accurate, records are required to ensure that transactions and changes are appropriately authorised.

The key insight is that not only must the true state of the data be recorded but that the person verify this truth must be recorded.

The article talks about strong “Requirements Management” and good “Testing” processes, and then talks about the use of PKI to sign application to application feeds or transactions to guarantee to the system of record that the author is a permitted actor and that the delivered data is accurate and authorised. I also propose that application logs as proposed under the “Application Security” domain of ISO/IEC 27034 should be used to record the authority/author of a database update.


Given the startling longevity of this blog, I have made a mirror of the Citihub article and loaded it to this site; integrity: the final frontier, a mirror …


I am looking at the GDPR, and considering the issue that post-Brexit, the UK will probably have to seek an “adequacy ruling” to allow IT services trade and trade dependent on cross border IT between the UK & the EU to continue. If we adopt the GDPR as part of the so-called “Great Repeal Bill”, then there should be no problem. In the unlikely event that the fUK-EW legislates for greater data subject privacy then the EU may object because it breaks their single market rules; all jurisdictions must treat entities and citizens of the EU equally, whereas if we were to weaken the privacy provisions then the Commission would deny us an adequacy ruling. Today’s insight is that it works both ways. …


I have just had my electricity meter upgraded so they won’t have to visit it to read it any more and the plan is that I can monitor my electricity use in real time!. This would be like the car displays that tell you your MPG and thus not very useful. They are both things that you can do nothing about. 

However, the data transport between the meter and the consumer monitor is bluetooth, a technology with a common range of 10m, or 13 yards or paces. The link also requires a line of sight between the two devices. Someone took this decision, despite the fact that every meter they ever install has a cable running into the delivery site. They could equally have used the phone connection required for remote monitoring and billing.

I should think this choice makes the technology’s use impossible in every block of flats in the country and possibly even in many large houses.

Someone or several people chose to do this!  …


Earlier this week, a Councillor in Exeter crossed the floor, joining the Greens citing policy disagreements and secrecy within the Labour Group. At Labour’s last conference, it was agreed through rule changes to increase the disciplinary powers of Labour Groups, and now we see in Lewisham that one of the cabinet members (Paul Maslin) has complained to the Head of Legal about Alan Hall being in breach of the Council’s rules of treating other Councillors with respect in conversation/debate about the Millwall CPO. When researching another blog article and preparing for the Deptford Party GC meeting, I discovered that Labour Group meetings are private and that the result of the vote against the CPO by the overwhelming majority of Labour Councillors couldn’t be discussed outside the meeting.

I find this all very worrying. No matter the size of the majority, its crucial that the affairs of Labour Groups are conducted with the maximum of financial transparency. When large majorities  exist, it is more important as the only scrutiny that exists against the Council leadership is within the Labour Group (and the auditors appointed by DCLG. ) Councillors should be accountable to the Party and to voters, the Group’s internal processes must be open. It’s a weakness that until recently, the tithe levied on Councillors is the most significant income to Labour Parties, so not only do Councillors have significant control through their legitimate political support, they have also controlled the funding. (The funding has not be fixed since LP HQ has trousered all the additional income from the new members which is one reason I am arguing for a change in the distribution scheme. )

One man management systems such as executive Mayors and now PCCs are dangerous and unstable in terms of accountability.The most elementary financial control system is that expense requires the agreement of two people and that the decisions are reviewed by a third party. Furthermore it’s necessary to protect against corruption, incompetence and cover ups. Another common control used in the private sector is mandatory leave i.e. that staff have to take at least one two week leave of absence. There is no equivilent in the bodies led by executive mayors. The lack of good faith inherent in the design of the Executive Mayor makes it impossible to control or recall except through election; initially the Labour Party placed a two term limit on these posts, but that was removed and in London we have seen borough mayors in power for decades.

We need better transparency for the affairs of Labour Groups and if we keep the Executive Mayors, must reinstate the term limits, in Law if we form a Government. If you want to help in Lewisham, come the Unite meeting in the town hall at the end of the month. …

Not so bad

Not so bad

Those of you who regularly read this blog will see I stood for Secretary of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party as part of left/momentum slate, and those of you who follow Momentum Exposed will know we lost. This was quite disappointing and we have had some difficulty in working out how to develop Labour’s campaigning beyond the electoralism & careerism practiced by the Labour First influenced majority. I think, and many of my allies agree that one of the differences is that on the Left we want to empower and engage our members and our voters; it’s been hard to do that and get the Deptford Labour Party via its General Committee (GC) to express its views when we are in contention with the new MP, and the Council majority. There would also seem to be a desire to exclude the ideas and enthusiasm of many of the new joiners. It was when looking back at what we as members had achieved, that I came to the conclusion that we haven’t done so badly and you can make a difference by joining the Labour Party. Over the last four years, we i.e. ordinary members of the Labour Party have made a difference, most recently on the New Bermondsey Development aka the Millwall CPO but also we have moved forward the national trade union campaign against blacklisting,  the Council’s initiatives on welcoming refugees, on Education and have even won a commitment to return the Anchor to the High Street.

While at times the Labour Party’s procedures seem strange, and exceptionally ill-tempered, belonging to the Labour Party makes a difference. These decisions have involved us debating with and winning other members to our point of view and ensuring that our Councillors take this forward.  …

Parliament Act

The House of Lords have inflicted two defeats on the Government’s Article 50 Bill, one requiring the Govt. to recognise the rights of EU citizen residents in the UK, and the second mandating that Parliament have a meaningful vote after the negotiations are complete. The Government plan to reverse these measures in the Commons, which one assumes they will succeed although 12 Tories voted with the Lords majority, so some more Tory MPs may gather courage. Even if the Commons reaffirms its will as already stated, if the Lords stand firm, the Bill falls and will have to be re-introduced (and passed) in the next parliamentary session. The time table, if not the whole project would be fucked. …


Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus explore the latest in Election winning software as sold by Cambridge Analytica and used by the Republican Party in the US General Election. It was also seemingly used by the Brexit campaigners in the UK. Their article explores the evolution of the pyschograph model and data collection techniques developed by academics and then looks at its more sinister uses via Facebook profiling data and big data analytics.

There are two lessons from this. The first, easier and personal one is to seriously consider how one uses Facebook, if at all. I feel it harder to give up now that messenger has E2E encryption but I shan’t be doing any more quizzes, not even what D&D class would you be;  I suppose especially not what D&D class are you, (Wizard by the way). Even the fact that I did an ABBA quiz yesterday and not Lady Gaga seems to give these nosy bastards data that they use.

The second lesson is for the Labour Party and relates to the fact that Trump’s campaign (and to some extent the Brexit and UK GE 2015) have updated the IT playbook. Up until then Obama’s 2012 campaign was the model to match and beat. To compare with this, in 2015, Labour spent more on the “Ed Stone” detailing the infamous five pledges than on Facebook and while some message prototyping, where messages are tested for effectiveness and then targeted and a tiny amount of crowd sourced message design occurred, we have to do better.

In the run up to the election, both Labour and the Tories brought in consultants from the Obama campaign, Labour brought in David Axelrod, and the Tories brought in Jim Messina. Messina would seem to have been the big data champion in Obama’s campaign and with the help of Cambridge Analytica they rewrote the political IT playbook.

The Electoral Commission are now looking into the legality of the Tories expenditure; micro-targeting and message customisation has been shown to cause campaign accounting problems since local and national expenses need to be accounted for separately and have separate limits.

And this is all before the authorities consider the data protection and privacy implications.

There are dangers from micro-targeting as promises made to some groups can be used against the authors. The Motherboard article highlights Clinton’s problem over relief in Haiti and in the UK, Ed Miliband’s mansion tax did not play well in London and the way the British deal with racism in politics has always given hostages to fortune, as we can see on some of the attacks on Ken Livingstone and aspects of the 2016 London Mayoral campaign.

The use of pyschographs and the messages it creates is a reinforcement of the the move from a transactional politics to perception based campaign; it’s one of the reasons that Ed Miliband failed and Labour’s new left, but aged leadership can’t break through to the electorate and one of the reasons why May can adopt elements of Miliband’s programme on energy and the minimum wage. Programmes and promises don’t count as much as they used to.

How to change perception is hard. I have been struggling with “Perception is reality” for many years because it isn’t. There are facts beyond perception and ignorance is ignorance.

Fixing Labour’s IT is easier, and the answer isn’t PHP and an updated voter ID system, it needs a modern applications architecture, a big data platform and it would seem they need to resurrect the once famed rapid rebuttal system. The excuse we can’t afford it no longer holds true. Did you know Labour is debt free?


This is a longer comment based on what I said facebook yesterday, I have made a story @ storify which has some further sources. This article was published on ello.davelevy.info, it has tool tips and should probably have been posted on the blog. …

This House (again)

I went to see “This House” last weekend, it’s the second time. Last time was before the Euro-referendum, and with Mrs. L who like me had lived through the period; this time I was with my boys, one of whom said it was a poor history lesson. 😣  ( I still think it’s better than that.)

Firstly, the lines on the last EU referendum are both funnier and sadder than last time.

Secondly, I felt that their treatment of the Northern Irish politics and vote was a trivialisation and also inaccurate. This time, perhaps because of the re-opening of the issues around the Union as a result of the EU referendum, despite an attempt to tell a different story the crucial importance of devolution to that government is in the spotlight.

The play tells the story of the steady erosion of the Wilson/Callaghan government’s four vote majority for various reasons, including several deaths, a fake suicide and crossing the floor (Prentice) and the defection of Sillars and Robertson to the Scottish Labour Party, a name unused by Labour at the time.

The vote of confidence was held after Labour had failed to get an Act on Devolution through Parliament. This was partly due the opposition of large parts of the Scottish PLP, a conversation well represented in the play. Less well represented was the politics of Northern Ireland leading to the abstention of both non-Unionist Northern Irish MPs, one of whom came to London to abstain in person.  The vote of confidence was lost by one vote.

The Government fell due to its inability to command a majority on Devolution and a failure of vision on how to keep the UK together; the policies on Northern Ireland split their polity with the Unionists voting against the Government and the nationalists abstaining.

These centripetal forces are being uncaged today. It’s not going to be fun.


The play is almost silent about the September election that didn’t happen and the Winter of Discontent. But it’s telling a different story

Oh yeah. Ed Miliband was sitting next to me, but didn’t ask for my advice, and I didn’t offer it. …