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Cheers - AE

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Children's database and its teething troubles.

Oh what a surprise. The Contactpoint database is being delayed because of security concerns.
ContactPoint is meant to help protect England's 11 million children by giving council officers, health care professionals and police a single register of their names, ages and addresses as well as information on their schools, parents and GPs.
But its planned launch has been put on hold once again after local authority staff discovered loopholes in the system designed to hide personal details of the most vulnerable young people – meaning that adopted children or those fleeing abusive homes could be tracked down.
Not the first time either. The Telegrpah also mentions that the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust believes that the privacy, security and no choice of opting out make the Contactpoint database illegal anyway. I have no idea if the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust are right that it's illegal, but I'm damn sure that having over 300,000 people with access to a database of the details of 11 million children is a worry with the government's track record of data security, and the fact that the children of the great and good are going to be exempt precisely because of concerns both about the number of people with access and the security of the data taints the whole thing with hypocrisy as well. The risks are too much for their children to be on the database, for their children are too precious. Your kids? Tough shit!

Actually the details of the latest fuck up aren't that important because the two principle problems remain. Firstly the practical problem of this naive faith the government has that the solution to almost any problem is a database, and their seeming lack of awareness that collating information is pointless if you don't have people fucking doing anything about it. I think it likely that if Contactpoint does come about that in a few years time it will simply make assessing the numbers of children beaten and tortured to death a bit more efficient. No doubt 'lessons will be learned'. Secondly, and fundamentally impossible to solve, is the issue of having no choice about it unless you can achieve fame or become a tax gobbling corrupt whore politician, and that while you might trust the intentions of this government, or the next one or the one after that, you can't be certain that this will always be the case. They're not the only reasons and you can take them in any order you like. It's a bad idea and it's been a waste (so far) of £224 million.
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