From Skwawkbox I came across a rather sad example of secrecy in bureaucracy. The crux of the issue is that a benefit claimant would like to be able to record their conversations with the officials concerned and the officials don’t like this, to the extraordinary length that they appear to have referred the claimant to a psychologist. The mysteries of the psychologist angel are beyond me. But I am passionate about information, open information, and accessible information. It’s not obvious to me why someone said by a official, while officially discharging their official duties, is not to be recorded. I *can* see why the statements made by the claimant might have privacy implications and why certainly no information should be made public without the claimant’s consent. Does every 100th claimant get given a state secret? (an *actual* reasonable reason might be that one might accidentally record the private conversation going on at the desk next door, but that’s not what’s going on here)
From the point of view of the claimant I can see it might be useful to record conversations for such purposes as:
- Because you have a poor memory,
- Because you have trouble reading and writing and struggle to make notes
- Because the information being imparted about benefits and taxation and jobs is complex and you are more likely to understand on a second listening
- Because you get the feeling you’ve been screwed around by the system a little much and you’d like to have a record of what’s going on.
For the record, during my PhD I would record supervision meetings/tutorials that I had with my supervisors (with their full advance permission) and found that on a second listen I understood vastly more that I did at the time. I highly recommend audio recordings wherever possible.
And this is were the disability angle comes in properly, because it’s quite hard to have clear-cut issues when one brings in the full spectrum of use cases. So If I’m not allowed to perform an audio recording, am I allowed to bring along a shorthand typist who will accurately note down every word we say? If I am, then I’ve got an auto-transcription app on my phone – you speak near it and it produces as text the words you said – that’s no a recording, is that okay?
You make thing I’m being silly with this and I am, but I’m heading to a serious point. Because I do a lot of work with Augmentative Alternative Communication AAC devices like these:
For the people who use them, Stephen Hawking is the example that everbody has heard of, they are often the only possible way of communicating. And, in many designs, the automatically log what people have used them to say. So if an AAC-user goes into the jobcentre, are they allowed to use their device to communication? After all they are automatically recording the entirely of one side of the communication…
#remember to do via samedifferenece