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Cheers - AE

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

This weeks "Thank fuck I left the UK" moment is brought to you in association with ContactPoint

Today's Telegraph, or from where I'm sitting it might be yesterday's, reports on ContactPoint, yet another government database. They've really outdone themselves this time. Every child, yes every single person under 18, is going to be on the database. Everyone.

Why? Well apparently the tragic death of Victoria Climbie in 2000 prompted a certain amount of navel gazing on the part of HM Government which resulted in the realisation that the police and social services, among others, may just have fucked up a teensy bit. Clearly the solution had to be yet another fucking database. Not firing the incompetent twats who failed to notice that the poor kid was being physically abused, or who had noticed but did fuck all about it, and then making sure you don't have any other similarly incompetent twats or hire twats in the future. Nope. A database... that'll do the the trick! Oh sure, some people were disciplined and reprimanded, and a couple of people were even fired and banned from working with children (though the bans were later overturned on appeal). But that's by the by - what fucking good would a fucking database have fucking done when the fucking fucktards failed to fucking act on information they fucking already had? What fucking good will a database do now or in the future when nobody has the first fucking clue how many fucktards remain in similar positions and would fail to act on similar information? Is the database supposed to go round and kick in the door of an abusive parent and gather up the child in its protective electronic embrace? Obviously not going to happen, so to be of any use at all it's still reliant on imperfect human beings who may fuck up from time to time, and unless you've got people involved who might think that being hospitalised twice in one week was a cause for some investigation and to ask if any was being done instead of assuming that someone must be looking into it.

However, more worrying than a new database with no guarantee of improving things is the scope and potential for misuse. Let's remember that everyone under 18 is on it. Then let's look in detail and see that in fact it's not just everyone under 18 but everyone under 25.
The records will be updated until children turn 18 then kept in an archive for six years before being destroyed, meaning they can be accessed until a young person reaches 24.

Well, I make six years after an 18th birthday inclusive of 24 with destruction of the records presumably being on the eve of someone's 25th birthday, but I'm nitpicking. The point is that you can be a working, tax paying, shagging adult with kids of your own before you're off the bloody database. In fact you can be working, shagging, paying taxes and have a sprog of your own before you're even 18 and the bastard record keepers have stopped updating your own records.

And who has access to this database?
An estimated 330,000 people ...

Do fucking what?
An estimated 330,000 people will have access to the data stored on ContactPoint, which is due to launch this autumn despite fears the Government's poor record on data security will mean it puts children at risk from paedophiles.
330,000 people - including police, doctors, care workers, head teachers (what the fuck?) and council workers (WHAT THE FUCK???) - with access to this monstrosity? Fuck me ragged. And while I don't see pervs round every corner the point about data security and the government's piss poor track record is well made. Some Googling reveals that celebrity kiddies won't be on the database, nor will children of violent parents, presumably because of the risk to their safety if the secure database isn't quite as secure as everyone had thought. Er, hang on. Did I read that right? Children of violent parents? Aren't they the ones the database is supposed to protect in the first place? It's supposed to protect them by not including them on it? Did I say "WHAT THE FUCK???" already? Thought so.

However I'm more immediately concerned with why 330,000 people including police and council workers (sorry but I just have to say WHAT THE FUCK??? again) need access to it. What the fu... ok, you get the idea. But what are they planing to do with the information.
Little-noticed guidance published by the Government discloses that ContactPoint users can request administrators to give them archived data for a number of reasons, including "for the prevention or detection of crime" and "for the prosecution of offenders".
The disclosure has led civil liberties campaigners to warn the entire database will be open for investigators to trawl for evidence that links young people to crime or anti-social behaviour.
Ah. It looks like we have a case of RIPA-itis. Bring something in with benevolent sounding intentions that will please the tabloids and/or the Helen Lovejoys, and then start seeing what else you can do with it.

However, a bit more Googling lead me to the Children Act 2004 in which we read that there is to be a Children's Commissar Commissioner and that among other things the Commissioner is to be concerned with the views and interests of children and their physical and mental health and emotional well being. So if you're under 18 and mature enough to be concerned or offended that the government is keeping information about you on the ContactPoint database there is something you can do. Since the Commissioner is concerned with your views write to him and tell him that all this is adversely affecting your mental health and emotional well being, and tell him to shove the database up his arse a circuit board at a time.

UPDATE - Also mentioned in the Times.
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