Public Sector: Year in Review 2010


This was never going to be a quiet year for technology when it came to the public sector.

Along with waiting for the implementation of the Digital Britain report and the backlash against biometric passports and ID cards, 2010 was the year for one of the closest contested general elections in decades and one that led to a rather unique result.

But what were the big stories and how has tech been affected along the way? We take a look back at the major events of the past 12 months to let you know.

Open data

The year started with a victory for open data campaigners everywhere when the Government's website went live.

It was launched by father of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee following his call on Government to open up its data during the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference last year.

Although launched under the Labour Government with just under 3,000 data sets, the number has continued to grow post election and offered an unprecedented insight into the statistics kept by our leaders.

It has become a great example of the benefits that can occur when the public sector works with technology.

Digital Economy bill becomes an act

One of the most contentious bills of the last few months of parliament, and the first few months of 2010, was also the bill with the biggest affect on the technology sector.

The Digital Economy Bill was born out of last year's Digital Britain report and brought together a number of suggestions to improve the UK's progress into the digital age.

Some elements received praise, such as the pledge to bring a minimum of 2Mbps connections to everyone in the country by 2012. Admittedly, questions were raised about whether this was fast enough, how it would be funded and what technologies would be used to get to the most remote areas. However, it was the first solid pledge to get everyone online and showed progress in the Government's attention to the important of the internet for both businesses and consumers.

However, other elements of the bill caused a lot of anger, namely the treatment of illegal file sharers. A three strike rule was proposed by the Business Secretary at the time, Lord Mandelson, whereby those downloading content illegally from the internet would be warned twice via letters if caught and on the third time have their internet connection cut off.

Along with the technical implications of doing this for example who would be responsible for cutting the lines and who would stop users moving to another ISP there was a massive uproar from rights groups about the need to be connected to the online world.

Small businesses were also filled with dread as their sons or daughters committing the downloads could lead to their livelihood being cut off.

However Mandelson, along with a number of music and film industry executives, said filesharing was damaging their businesses already and continued illegal downloading would lead to catastrophic effects.

The debate raged for months but critics of the bill lost out as it got made into an act during the wash-up phase of the outgoing Government, with very few hours of debate.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.