The next government initiative to undermine privacy is the Children’s Database project. I am one of the authors of a report on this, which was written for the Information Commissioner and will be published later in September. Press interest is starting to mount (see the Telegraph, the Tiimes, the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail), and there will be a TV programme on the subject today (More 4 at half past seven). If you’re in the UK and are interested in privacy or computer security, that might be worth watching.
The project aims at linking up all the government systems that keep information on kids. Your kids’ schoolteachers will be able to see not just their school records but also their medical records, social work records, police records and probation records; see here for the background. I can’t reveal the contents of the report prior to publication but I am reminded of Brian Gladman’s punchline in his talk at SFS8: ‘You can have scale, or functionality, or security.If you’re smart you can build a system with any two of these. But you can’t have all three.’
As well as the technical objections there are legal objections – and strong practical objections from social workers who believe that the project is putting children in harm’s way.