A journalist managed to meme themselves, myself – and some wiser people – into a meeting with the Shadow Business Secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, to talk about how to free up the UK’s address data. There were even badges.

Jonathan Reynolds MP, James O’Malley, Hadley Beeman, Anna Powell-Smith and me. My PAF badge is in my pocket ‘cos wearing badges is not enough, in days like these.

Address data – ie the list of properties in the UK: 1 Acacia Avenue NE26, 2 Acacia Avenue NE26 – might seem a bit dull, but it’s actually really fundamental to our lives.

It’s digital infrastructure that’s used every time you order a pizza online, to every time you get home insurance, to that time the government needed to combine umpteen datasets to work out who was most at risk from the pandemic and then help them shield from it.

Anyway, UK address data has been partly privatised (into the Royal Mail), partly behind paywalls (Ordnance Survey), and tangled up in some really complicated copyright and business model stuff.

That holds back innovation, investment and makes all of the services we use a little bit worse as people need to spend time wrangling money, copyright, licensing rather than cracking on with doing stuff that can make our lives better.

It’s possible for a government to fix that mess, but it needs some will power. And the last few governments have, to be kind, had other things to do.

Jonathan Reynolds posted on X about the event. Unfortunately X’s product radar is so broken that I can’t simply embed the post nowadays. So, here’s a screenshot.

So, in the run up to the next election a few of us are doing the rounds to ask the political parties who might form the next government whether they’ll have a go at sorting it out

Anyway, you can read more on the meeting on James’ substack, and subscribe to his newsletter too.

If you subscribe then James might even send you a ‘free the PAF’ badge…