330,000 users to have access to database on England’s children
- Family campaigners raise concerns over security
- Index is intended to avoid another Climbié case
Lucy Ward, social affairs correspondent
Monday June 18, 2007
A giant electronic database containing sensitive information on all 11 million children in England will be open to at least 330,000 users when it launches next year, according to government guidance.
A final consultation on the plan reveals that the index, intended to help children’s services work together more effectively following the death of Victoria Climbié, will be accessible through any computer linked to the internet, whether at work or at home, providing users have the correct two-part security authentication.
Guidance on the £224m project warns those authorised to use the system not to access it in internet cafes or on computers in public reception areas, and instructs them never to leave the database logged on in case of unauthorised use.
Though it stresses the sophistication of the electronic security surrounding the databank, it acknowledges: “No system can be 100% guaranteed against misuse.” The government was warned by family campaigners that parents would be concerned about the number of people able to search the database, and about the potential security risk.
Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, said: “Our research with parents suggests they will have great anxiety about the proposals.”
The universal database, forecast to cost £41m a year to run, has prompted controversy since the government set out its legal underpinning in the 2004 Children Act. Ministers argue the system will help prevent the lack of communication between children’s services revealed in the Laming inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié, and will boost early intervention where children need it.
However, critics argue it breaches a child’s right to privacy, while others have raised concerns about security.
The database, named ContactPoint, will store basic identifying information including date of birth, address, name of parent and an identifying number for each child up to the age of 18. It will also hold contact details for services involved with the child, including school and GP practice but also others, though consent is required for details of sensitive services such as sexual and mental health.
No one will be allowed to opt out of the database, but children or their parents will have the right to ask to see information about them and challenge it if it is wrong. Children’s details can also be electronically “shielded” if they are considered to be at increased risk – an exemption which, controversially, could extend to the offspring of high-profile figures.
Every Child Matters, but it seems, some children matter more than others.
The right to CHALLENGE information if it is wrong is completely different to being able to CHANGE information if it is wrong, and if this insanity goes ahead, you can imagine the horrible process that would be involved in any such ‘challenge’.
And of course, they will use these unique numbers and roll them over into the NIR, creating a system that automatically populates it from birth from now (2008, if they manage to create this database) on.
This is pure evil, and the fact that they are going to ‘shield’ the identities of the children of the rich and famous proves that this database is dangerous to every child.
From the policy document:
Objectives of ContactPoint
4. The objectives of ContactPoint are to:
• help practitioners identify quickly a child with whom they have contact, and whether that child is getting the universal services (education, primary health care) to which he or she is entitled;
Which children and young people will be covered?
9. ContactPoint also supports the policy objective of identifying early those children with additional needs which should be addressed if they are to achieve the Every Child Matters outcomes, and then addressing those needs swiftly and effectively. It is estimated that at any one time 3-4 million children have such needs.
10. ContactPoint will cover all children and young people in England.
This is because:
• it is not possible to predict in advance which children will have needs for additional services;
• any child or young person could require the support of those services at any time in their childhood; and
• all children have the right to the universal services (education, primary health care), and the basic data will show whether or not they are receiving, and will then, as necessary, support local action to ensure they do receive them.
What this says is very clear; every child has the right to education, and this system will make sure that they will be forced to receive these ‘rights’.
If it is shown that a child is not receiving the ‘right’ to go to school, then the system will flag them, and the ‘right’ to attend school will be enforced.
Note how they justify putting EVERY CHILD in the system because, “it is not possible to predict in advance which children will have needs for additional services”, in other words, every parent is a potential criminal, and every child is a potential victim, and so we must put everyone under surveillance.
They understand that people do not like to be surveilled:
In order to ensure universal coverage, and also to ensure that the most vulnerable children have a record, inclusion of a child or young person on ContactPoint will not be subject to consent. However, where a practitioner is delivering a sensitive service to a child or young person, inclusion of that practitioner’s contact details on the child’s record will be subject to the informed and explicit consent of the young person, or, in the case of a child, the parent. Access to this information, once placed on the child’s record, will also be tightly restricted. Sensitive services are specific services in the fields of sexual health, mental health, and substance abuse. The purpose of this approach is to prevent children and young people being deterred from accessing these services.
Once everyone with a sensitive medical problem understands that touching this system in any way marks you forever, they WILL stay away from it, becauase they will understand that anyone can find out everything about them. And this will be carried over into adulthood:
ContactPoint will cover children and young people up to their 18th birthday. To help ensure that the transition from youth to adult services is managed smoothly, it may also be desirable to make provision to retain some basic information for young adults with multiple needs, (for example care leavers and young people with disabilities), beyond their 18th birthday, with their consent.
So, your consent to be kept on this database can be asked if you are 18; does this mean that the records pertaining to each child as it reaches its 18th year will be deleted?. Also, why is it that parents cannot opt out of this system on behalf of their children, but children themselves can do so when they reach 18? If it is good for you when you are less than 18, surely it is good for you after you are 18; why should you be given the choice to opt out then, and not before?
Parents have the absolute right to care for their children in the way that they see fit. By saying that the parent does not have the right to opt their children out, the state is taking on the role of the parent in saying what is and is not of benefit to the child which is totally unacceptable to any decent person. They are making the children of the UK into property.
Parents have an obligation to protect their children from harm. This database constitutes real harm, and so, all parents who object to it, should opt out of it by any means necessary.
People with money (people with means) will now have to find private doctors who use only paper to keep records, and who are true to their Hippocratic Oath. This database violates the privacy of children, puts them in harms way, damages them and their families and so therefore, all doctors should refuse to engage with it in any way.
And the people without money? I guess they will just have to vote Tory next time round.
How are they going to populate this database?
To avoid double-inputting of data and to ensure high standards of accuracy, information will be drawn from and updated through, a range of existing national and local systems, using proven technology.
This means that it is going to be a total mess. Which is a good thing, because if it does not work, eventually it will be shut down as non cost effective.
And what if people abuse the system? (other than the hackers who will be able to own this system within 15 minutes of it going live)
A range of sanctions are available to manage inappropriate use, and can include disciplinary action, fines and custodial sentences.
Of course, none of these sanctions will put the data back in the database. Once it is out there, it is out there forever, and no amount of prison time, fines, disciplinary action or any thing else will change that.
This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of data, and it also shows a lack of understanding of the risk such a system poses.
By assembling this system, they are putting ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE UK AT RISK because a statistically small number of children are being mistreated. By creating this system, they are abusing ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE UK, where they were not before being abused and violated.
This government has, through this project, become the single biggest abuser of children in the history of Great Britain.
During the implementation phase, each Local Authority will be funded to provide a small team to support data migration, matching and cleansing during roll-out. There will also be a role for authorities to communicate and consult widely in their areas and to locally promote ContactPoint. Each Authority will maintain a small team to support ongoing data migration, matching and cleansing, and technical support for authorised users. This team would be responsible for service management, systems administration, data management, professional support and administration of local access. Local authorities will be supported by the central project team through this process, and will receive training, guidance and support to carry out this important role.
So there will be hoards of people given access to this database as it is being created, who will sift and sort through everyone, looking through everyones personal details as they ‘match and cleanse’. This is a total nightmare.
LEts think about some security breach scenarios, many of which we have discussed on BLOGDIAL before:
Casually shared login details:
We all know about the sharing of logins and passwords that is rampant throughout many systems world wide. All it will take is one person to allow their account to be used for the entire system to be compromised, and of course, once the data is out there, it is out there FOREVER.
Hackers Owning the DB:
I guarantee you that some hackers will own this database within minutes or days of it going online. They will then do an SQL dump of the whole database, and then all of it, records of every child in the UK will be out there, FOREVER. This is a scenario that WILL take place.
Duplication by increments:
This database and its entire contents will be duplicated over time, as every small breach and copying of a record means that particular record is out there forever. Over 10 years (if this nightmare goes ahead) we will see near complete copies of this database in private hands.
This database is not only extremely valuable to sex monsters, but it is literally millions of times more valuable to toy, clothes and book manufacturers who would pay anything (even fines and jail time) for access to the clean database of names ages, genders and addresses of all the children in the UK, so that they can market to them directly and individually. This database represents a business opportunity without precedent. And you can guarantee that the selling of it will be proposed as a way to offset the cost of running it.
Bad insiders; we have talked about them on BLOGDIAL before, and there is nothing that you can do about them. No amount of ‘enhanced criminal records checks’ will be able to predict which of these 330,000 people will crack under pressure. Criminal records checks only tell you the people who have not yet committed a crime, they cannot predict the future.
This government is totally insane to be doing this. No doubt about it.
The ultimate question for all parents is, what are you going to do to protect your children and to keep them out of this database? How far are you willing to go to do it?