People may be prevented from accessing public services through the web due to negative press coverage of their security.


Speaking at the governmentIT 09 conference in London, Dr John Widdowson, director of information assurance in government at the CESG, claimed that high-profile data loss cases could be discouraging as many as 17 million UK residents from accessing services through the internet.


Widdowson said: “There are a considerable number of people that cannot access this technology - and the constant data security issues are a barrier to getting those people to use the web and public services online.”


Previously, the Department for Communities and Local Government has noted the benefits of the digital revolution are not enjoyed by all groups and communities. It warned digital inequality is a ‘new driver' in social exclusion, which can widen social divides and potentially create new gaps in equality.


Steve Palmer, head of ICT at the London Borough of Hillingdon and senior vice-president of Socitm, cautioned the audience of government IT professionals not to leave anyone behind in the drive for improved efficiency and reduced contact.


Palmer said: “It is an important issue in local government that when designing services you keep in mind the people who don't have access. Often, these are the most vulnerable people that a council is providing services to. It is easy to get carried away with this and assume all people have web access and that they all have trust.”