"[If I wanted to create a surveillance society], I would start by creating dossiers on kindergarten children so that the next generation could not comprehend a world without surveillance."
- Andre Bacard, author of 'The Computer Privacy Handbook'
The Spine and the (now split-up) NIR are not the only large-scale New Labour population surveillance projects. The Integrated Children's System is a database proposed to hold the details of all of our nation's "vulnerable" children.
Is it secure? No. Security experts Secerno
are worried that this wide-ranging a data system will be "an incredible resource for child abusers"
. Professor Ross Anderson (quoted in FIPR press release
) points out that, as with the Spine, a database of this scale cannot possibly be sufficiently secure: "If we're to have secure and functional child-protection systems, they will have to be local rather than central"
Is it legal? Probably Not. A report by the foundation for information policy research (FIPR) suggests that the privacy implications of the proposed system may be sufficient for it to be unlawful. In particular the plan to pool health, education and social welfare data in one place; and to seek consent for information disclosure from children under the age of 16 without parental involvement. The legalities of the proposal are discussed at length in sections 7.2 and 7.3 of the linked report.
Is it intrusive? Yes. The implications of this database will go far beyond the stated intention of protecting vulnerable children from abuse. The Government, is once again proposing to sideline individual and parental responsibility in favour of central planning and ever-increasing involvement of state services. In the FIPR panel's view "The ECM agenda appears to be assuming that the government’s and practitioners’ views should be dominant, with the child and parents being overridden if they disagree."
. No change there, then.
Read more about the Children's Databases by reading the report (PDF)
Campaigns against & Criticism of Children's Databases:
Action on Rights for Children
Dare to Know