What this means in practise is that MSN has deep-linked inside existing government sites to add another Public Services channel to its site. Although eGov implies this is an exclusive deal, I don’t think it will be, as other commercial operates come begging for government content.
This is all part of the government’s open ‘gateway’ project to work with public and private partners. This basically means that government will start to integrate its systems behind the scenes, while the commercial sector puts their own spin and customisation on the delivery of the channel. It’s doing this using web services technology like SOAP. The benefit with this is that the third party site can put filters on the governmental information coming in in order to tailor and contextualise the content to its audience.
The upshot could well be a mini-boom in the content industry, suddenly able to tap into vast government information at the drop of a piece of code. The BBC, which has been attacked by Azeem Azhar and Steve Bowbrick for not making it own tax-funded content available in a similar manner, may do well to watch this project.