Information security and values in public e-services

Om projektet





Karin Hedström



In Sweden, as in many other countries, information security, and especially related areas such as privacy and trust, are key questions for the state’s advances towards a secure and efficient e-service society. The purpose of eGovernment is to increase “efficiency and effectiveness and to constantly improve public services in a way that caters for users’ different needs and maximizes public value”. The role of information security is to create information processes that secure that confidential, accessible information is not subject to unwanted changes. The fact that hat information security is an important area, and not least within the public sector, is illustrated by the regulations for the public sector developed by the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency. In a report from the Government Delegation, information security and protection of citizen privacy are stressed as very important aspects to consider during the development of information technologies for public sector use. Trust is seen as one key factor for widespread adoption of e-services.

How to balance citizen’s trust and need for privacy with government interest such as operability and access to information in the development and use of e-services is a challenging issue which concerns eGovernment as well as information security. This challenge is only one example of a possible value conflict in the use and development of e-services. Values have been used increasingly within information systems (IS) research and information security research to understand behavior in complex situations where actors face multiple priorities and multiple choices for action. Users and information security managers have different responsibilities; making their actions based on different rationalities. Value conflicts can be seen as an opportunity to reflect on and improve a professional practice, instead of as disturbances. Value conflicts, and prioritizations, are a natural part of every work practice and are inherent in complex organizational work, where multiple forms of rationality are employed in organizational actions at any one times. If value conflicts can be identified, they can be used as a starting point for discussing alternative actions within e.g., eGovernment, taking into account the values and interests of multiple actors.