Not what you thought

November 29, 2007

Some useful clarification about the independent review of Contactpoint security on Ideal Government:

The security review announcement was already planned before the HMRC debacle, I’m told. The Minister referred to HMRC in his statement to da House but the media suggestion it is a reaction to the lost CDs is misleading.


Crescendo

November 28, 2007

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The LibDems have added their voice to the growing clamour for Contactpoint’s plug to be pulled:

The Liberal Democrats have called for a security review of the ContactPoint database, announced today, to be expanded to investigate whether the entire project is ‘fit for purpose’.

On Monday, the Liberal Democrats called for a review of the security of the controversial online database that will hold personal details of every child in the UK.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Children, Schools and Families Spokesperson, Annette Brooke MP said:

“It is a shame that it has taken the disastrous loss of HMRC data to convince ministers to reconsider this vast database.

“The announced review of security should be expanded to ask whether ContactPoint will actually help to coordinate children services better rather than creating another expensive bureaucratic mess.

“The ease with which local government employees can access personal details of any child in the country is only one reason why this database simply isn’t fit for purpose.”

Don’t forget to join in the chorus here.

And in all the protest about Contactpoint, let’s hope that the other national database, eCAF, doesn’t quietly slip through. A national system containing the in-depth personal assessments of 50% of children is even more dangerous.


Telling it like it is

November 28, 2007

Brian Gladman talking about the Contactpoint ‘security review’ on the No2ID message boards:

It is not possible to build a database of 15 million children’s names and addresses accessed by 330,000 users whilst also protecting the safety, security and privacy of this data. And since the minister even said: “The fundamental design of ContactPoint will not change”, we know that the only changes that could make this work are precluded from consideration already.

And if you’re asking “Who is Brian Gladman?”, he’s just another security expert whom the government ignores.


Contactpoint delayed

November 27, 2007

The latest news:

Ministers are postponing a new database on every child in England, pending a security review and changes to the system including its access controls.

Children’s minister Kevin Brennan told MPs there would be a five-month delay to the £224m system, ContactPoint.

It’s a shame the PA Newswire couldn’t get this bit right:

The database came out of the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie and is designed to make it easier to co-ordinate the work of different child protection agencies.

Just to reiterate the Government’s own words:

Is ContactPoint all about child protection?

No, ContactPoint is principally about supporting early intervention for the 30-50% of children who at some point in their lives need additional services to ensure they achieve good outcomes. But it will also aid communication about children identified as being at risk of significant harm.

Nevertheless the myth persists. This has to be one of the most successful pieces of spin ever devised: even when the government makes perfectly clear what some of us have been saying all along, journalists keep right on parroting the original mantra.


Prescience

November 26, 2007

We’ve just remembered the report of the Lords’ Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee following scrutiny of the regulations to bring Contactpoint into being:

However, the Government have not in our view conclusively demonstrated that a universal database is a proportionate response to the problem being addressed. While the Government have taken the need for security seriously, the scale and importance of the scheme increase the risk that any accidental or inadvertent breach of security, or any deliberate misuse of the data, would be likely to bring the whole scheme into disrepute.

Indeed.


Moving forward

November 26, 2007

After writing about the lack of commitment from the Conservatives to scrapping Contactpoint, It’s heartening to read this:

But the Tories are calling for the scheme to be ditched. Tim Loughton, the Conservative spokesman for children, said it should be replaced by a smaller, more tightly controlled database.

There’s certainly a case to be argued for a restricted system to communicate with other authorities when a child genuinely at risk of ‘significant harm’ moves areas, especially if it’s without warning, and it makes it more likely that such a child will be noticed if the wires aren’t crowded with trivial chatter. The challenge would be to maintain security on a system that contained the details of the most vulnerable children in the country.

Now we need to hear David Cameron confirm that he would scrap the Contactpoint/eCAF schemes and dismantle all of the other systems that invade children’s privacy.


Contactpoint petition

November 25, 2007

You might want to sign this e-petition:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abandon plans to create the Information Sharing Index, a national database of all children aged between birth and eighteen.

The Information Sharing Index is the original name for Contactpoint before its re-brand.


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