England: a bigger folly
I wrote yesterday about the folly of absolutes in Australia. This provides one good reason why England’s plans for a national children database are a bad idea.
As I mentioned, the Australian Taxation Office spokeswoman admitted that government cannot make sure that it will keep taxpayer information that it is legally required to be kept confidential safe from unauthorised employees. This is probably true across governments across countries- insiders are the biggest security threat.
On the other hand, England is charging ahead to introduce a massive national database (ContactPoint) which will contain details of every one of the 11 million under-18 children in the country, listing their name, address and gender, as well as contact details for their GP, school and parents and other carers.
Given that 330,000 users will have access to this database, it’s not surprising that fears of misuse and unauthorised access are growing.
Tellingly, information about the children of celebrities and politicians is likely to be excluded from the system.
The database may or may not be able to achieve its aims of preventing another Victoria Climbié. Following on from the folly of absolutes, what will most certainly happen is unauthorised access. The question then is whether the resulting harm will be more than offset by the good it will do.
And, even if the net result is positive, that will be of little comfort to the children harmed.