Mobile device use among MPs is coaxing British parliament IT into the cloud, as parliamentary ICT director Joan Miller focuses on data protection training rather than limiting MPs' device use.
Speaking at Cloud Expo Europe in London, Miller said parliamentary IT had to let go of the hope of controlling all the data MPs create.
"Just like other users they're using their smartphones and their tablets. The absolute imperative for someone using mobile devices is mobile data, even if it's off the protected infrastructure of the estate," she said.
"As the Internet of Things fills the air with data, we have to know we are not in control: the way people use technology is not IT's choice, and maybe not even the individual's choice," she continued. "We have to acknowledge that this is the way people work."
"It's not about data we control, it's not about people we control, it's about interaction of our politicians with the public and all the voters across the United Kingdom. We've come a very long way from where we could control everything."
A priority for many MPs is being able to keep in touch with constituents in a public forum such as Twitter or Facebook. This is something many MPs now do, explained Miller, and it has driven up mobile device use among politicians.
She added that MPs had a fairly good sense of what data is safe to be held electronically, stating that most of them would not write down digitally "anything they would not want to see in the Daily Mail because someone, somewhere will be leaking it".
Miller maintained that it is in fact the mishandling of physical data such as paper documents that leads to most data breaches, rather than weakness in technology. "We build electronic protection around our data, but in the end it's what the user does with it that makes it secure or not," she said.
Parliament is currently undertaking a review on the ways in which technology is used, with House of Commons speaker John Bercow looking to create "Parliament version 2.0". The review is expected to be completed by 2015.
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