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Government Privacy

Database of All UK Children Launched 296

Posted by timothy
from the can't-help-but-think-of-'em-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "'A controversial database which holds the details of every child in England has now become available for childcare professionals to access. The government says it will enable more co-ordinated services for children and ensure none slips through the net. 390,000 people will have access to the database, but will have gone through stringent security training.'"
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Database of All UK Children Launched

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  • by CantGetAUserName (565692) <apdsmith@gmailCOLA.com minus caffeine> on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:49AM (#27992703)

    Knowing our government, child professionals, council binmen, accounts clerks, councillors, dog catchers and that nasty lady on the front desk who's job is purely to be unhelpful.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:03AM (#27992785)

      and that nasty lady on the front desk who's job is purely to be unhelpful

      Computer says noooooo...

    • by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:08AM (#27992793)
      Come on you know our government is great with security. They have never ever lost a latop containing personal details of people, and look at how quiet they kept their expenses.. With security like that what can possibly go wrong..
      • Where's the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag when it's needed?
      • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker&gnu,org> on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:33AM (#27993271) Homepage

        390,000 people will have access to the database, but will have gone through stringent security training.

        Let's try being a little optimistic.

        Let's say that all 390,000 people take their duties and responsibilities as public servants very seriously. They attend the security training and try to remember everything they're taught.

        Fast forward two weeks. They all integrate the security training into their work, and form new habits: "when I open the database, I have to $SECURITY_CONSIDERATION, then click on $SAFE_OPTION and always ask IT if something smells fishy". They form habits.

        Fast forward four months. An unexpected situation pops up. They have now forgotten what they learned in security training, relying solely on their new habits which have worked perfectly well so far. They try their best to judge the security implications of their choices in an unknown situation, but they're not computer techies, so they get the answer wrong.

        As a result, security is breached.

        Anyone wants to defend a more optimistic prediction?

        • by michaelhood (667393) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:58AM (#27993375)

          Let's try another route.

          The number of IBM worldwide employees is coincidentally also approximately 390,000. [wikipedia.org]

          They have allegedly suffered many problems with internal security issues, simply due to the scale of their workforce. Whether through malice, ignorance, or simply bad luck - when you have 390,000 "targets" something will eventually go wrong.

          Simply a 1 in 10,000 employee incident ratio for the lifetime of this database would mean 39 breaches..

        • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday May 18, 2009 @06:30AM (#27993525) Homepage

          They all integrate the security training into their work, and form new habits:

          HAHAHAA! Wow, things must really work different on your side of the pond. Because over here, 90% of people would forget all their security training 20 minutes after leaving the meeting. Most of them will suffer through massive regulations and rules, struggling to do their job and then some contractor will walk out with millions of records on a laptop.

          Information security in most government offices involves straining out gnats while swallowing camels. Lock down workstations to the point people can barely work, but let contractors bypass all those safeguards servicing the applications. Wrap themselves around the axle stopping people from installing weather bug, and leave massive holes in other areas. The IRS has mountains of data security processes but that didn't stop them from mailing my wife someone else's tax audits. All those docs had a big banner right across the top THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS SENSITIVE TAXPAYER INFORMATION. Name, address, date of birth, social security number, employer and income going back five years. All the computer security, all the data security processes, thwarted by some twit with an envelope and the post office.

          • by Sandbags (964742) on Monday May 18, 2009 @07:36AM (#27994059) Journal

            I don't doubt that would be an issue. Training someone to work securely is complete bunk.

            However, managing a massive server farm that processes 7 billion medical transactions per quarter, and stores data for nearly 1/4th of all americans and the entire military, I can say providing data security is actually pretty easy: simply architect the database in such a way as it is impossible to export the entire data set except for a few key system and DB administrators. In our DECADES of processing transactions, we have never had a breach. We're under CONSTANT DDoS and hacking attacks. Half the world is TRYING to steal our data. We have DOD, CIA, and FBI here weekly researching attempts. Not ONCE have we lost data. We ship thousands of backup tapes out of our data center every week. Not on ever lost.

            Line level employees can only access a record given the key; SSN plus phone number (via routed caller ID signals, not typed in) plus pin#; SSN plus account number plus pin number; SSN plus DL plus full address, etc. Searching for records by only name, address, or SSN alone is not possible. Dumping more than 1 record at a time is not possible. There's no database app on their machines, only a web portal to an app on a server behind a firewall, that server communicates with the actually application engine on another server, and that server is firewalled off from the DB server. The app on the app server has very limited ability to access the database, only programmed queries that meet minimum validation.

            For the child services dept, they would have to do searches occasionally, but even the search should only reply with a simple list, containing only 2 or 3 vlaues foe each returned result, and that list should not be exportable, and should be limited to say 100 results. End-user hacks, or data theft from the client side should be basically worthless.

            If the end users can't GET to the bulk of the data, they can't steal it (or get hacked by someone who could).

            A 3 tier network architecture prevents direct access to the database. Individualized user password access makes the process auditable. DB dumps can only be perfomed on the DB server directly, logged in as non-root administrators, and even those dumps should never be uses for more than migration, backup, or test lab use. Keep in mind, databases of this saze are NOT hosted on Windows boxes in some closet... They're on massive AIX Oracle clusters, or on Host systems. Those systems are not vulnerable to hacks as they have do direct outside connections, and are hardened UNIX operating environments.

            Great, you've got 390,000 users. They can't get to enough of the data to steal it...
            Maybe you've got about 100 developers. They use dummy data, or exports of the DB that have run through a name and SSN randomizer (we do that here). they can't steal the data.
            You've got 10-20 admins who maintain and back up the server; they're all security minded highly trained IT folk, and are told their actions are audited. They're the only ones who could steal the data, but we'd know if they did and they know that too.

            Where big data breaches have happened in the past is when executives have gone plugging around town with dumps from some tool to an Access database. Others have been data tape thefts, but they've been small time shops compareds to this. Even if you can steal some of my TSM tapes, where are you going to load them to get the data off??? The drives cost $25K each, not to mention hundreds of grand worth of licensing and AIX servers to control the drive. These are not some cheapo LTO tapes... and these tapes, they're logged by a librarian, boxed by paid security staff, and a chain of custody in locked tape boxes passes through 3 people before the box gets to the front door, and then it's handled by armored car... 3 of them actually, and tapes from the same tape set are allways divided across the trucks, so even knocking off a tape truck does not get you a data set that can be stolen. Oh yea, the 256bit AES encryption is a bugger too!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pvt_Ryan (1102363)

      More than 51,000 children deemed vulnerable will have their identities and information shielded

      Kinda defeats the purpose.. :/

  • Pedobear (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:50AM (#27992711)
    Jackpot!

    (just a matter of when)
    • Re:Pedobear (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:57AM (#27992751)

      mysql -u pedobear -p password -P 3306

      > SELECT * FROM underage_children ORDERBY date_of_birth DESC;

    • Re:Pedobear (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wowsers (1151731) on Monday May 18, 2009 @06:33AM (#27993539) Journal
      This database is disgusting, I shudder what covert paedophile in the public sector will have access to this data. It has nothing to do with protecting children, it has everything to do with fishing for information to make the ID database the government have been having a 12 year wet dream about, along with the European Union who are creating a unified European ID database. Europe is attempting to force countries without ID cards to have them, so the HONEST population can be tracked.

      Ever wonder why companies like IBM are involved in the UK ID database, they do have extensive experience in 1939-45 of tracking "undesirable people" for the then Nazi government.

      On the bright side, if there is one, private sector schools are refusing to co-operate with building this clandestine ID database. Daily Mail article [dailymail.co.uk]. Only problem is, you have to have your children in private schools for the school to show two fingers at the government.

      Private schools are refusing to provide information on their pupils for use in a controversial Government database.

      The £224million system, called ContactPoint, aims to hold the details of every school-aged child in England, including GP and parents' mobile-phone numbers, as well as a log of what services they use, such as a school nurse.

      It is estimated that this information could be used by more than one million people, from police officers to school administrators.

      Now, in the latest blow to the widely criticised database, the Independent Schools Council, which represents the private education sector, has joined critics who fear that data will not be secure and could be used improperly.

      ISC chief executive David Lyscom said: 'The only effective way to safeguard our children's data is to scrap the whole ContactPoint system.'

      • Re:Pedobear (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Monday May 18, 2009 @07:52AM (#27994313) Homepage

        The database really already exists - got a national insurance number? It includes your date of birth & address (everyone gets sent an NI card on their 16th birthday). That's tied to the NHS database, from which you can find out medical details (although the hospital records are for the most part still not computerised).

        They're after more information, but it's not going to give anyone any information that they didn't already know. And anyway, useful to a paedophile? Paranoia much? It's far easier for them to wander down to the local primary school than hack into a government database and extract the details one at a time (basic securiy procedure says you won't be able to access more than a single record at a time, and that'll be logged anyway).

  • Seriously do they really expect this information to remain secret?

  • sigh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shivinski (1053538)
    ...Big Brother strikes again...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noundi (1044080)
      ...UK strikes again...

      Fixed it for ya.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimmypw (895344)
        Parent says to child: "no honey thats not a tatoo its an identifying barcode, it keeps you safe from undesireables."
  • by Tsuki_yomi (642789) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:52AM (#27992727)
    The article doesn't seem to make any mention of removing that information when they become adults. I can see where this is going... get a database of them now, when less people are likely to complain, and then you still have the info when they are adults. Instant (well sorta) database of all your citizens.
    • by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:02AM (#27992775)

      Well, there is already a myriad of government databases containing more sensitive information than this about everyone: NI/Income tax registers, Electoral registers, the (shudder) NHS system, Council Tax databases, birth certificates, benefits, criminal records etc.

      This database just seems to aggregate a subset of this data together for children in an easily searchable place. I don't think the government is creating and *new* information that will be interesting to search when the children become adults.

      • by robably (1044462) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:09AM (#27992801) Journal

        This database just seems to aggregate a subset of this data together for children in an easily searchable place.

        There's no "just" about it - that's the problem right there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Agreed, but whilst it makes me shudder, it also belays any fears that this is a surreptitious plan to start collecting new information about kids which can be sneakily kept to provide useful information about them as adults.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Warbothong (905464)

            As it stands, many database searches require a search warrant, which implies some kind of need for the search. However, the databases are so disparate that a warrant issued for, say, an NHS database will get you medical records for that person. Searching on the police database you can get their criminal record, but you need another warrant to specify why you need such information, and the same goes for the rest.

            The problem with having a centralised system is that every warrant obtained to look someone up in

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yes, and they left it all on a laptop [google.es] in the back of a Taxi not too long ago.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AnalPerfume (1356177)
        I don't have any problem with the idea of a central secure database where different agencies can access the parts of it they need to know to carry out their jobs. I think this is a great idea for efficiency.

        What I do have a problem with is that the government have a long history of expensive insecure failed IT systems which don't deliver and inevitably breach to the public via some idiot leaving a laptop on a train etc. Usually it's the same IT firms who get the contracts over and over again to profit from
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      MySpace and Facebook are just as bad. They teach people, even adults, to give up personal information without a second thought.

  • not my children (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:52AM (#27992729)
    if i had kids i'd refuse or give bogus details.

    if ever their was a reasonable cause to scream think of the children, this is it. and lets not forget that these kids will grow into adults, do we really believe the government will let go of that information once it has it?

    • Re:not my children (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shabble (90296) <qkjj13x02@sneakemail.com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:05AM (#27992787)

      if i had kids i'd refuse or give bogus details.

      That sort of behaviour would likely to earn you a criminal record, and a marker on this database to indicate that your child is now on the child protection register (one of the groups of people for whom this database is for I'd imagine after the farce over 'Baby P.')

      And I'm not being cynical, I only wish I were.

    • by laejoh (648921) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:30AM (#27992927)
      My son is called Little Bobby Tables [xkcd.com] :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Unfortunately every child gets a birth certificate (unless you do a DIY home birth maybe) so it's pretty hard to avoid.

    • by tygerstripes (832644) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:43AM (#27993317)

      Not directly, but I work daily with the ContactPoint project and a number of others that coincide with it.

      First: there is no opt-in or opt-out. The database is populated from a number of existing databases at a Local Authority level, and in most cases the primary source is the central Education database, which is in turn populated by schools' information systems and such. All schools, private schooling parents and similar, have a legal duty to submit this information annually in the Schools Census. It's not 100% accurate or up-to-date, but it's as comprehensive a framework as you'll find. "Refusing" or giving "bogus details" would be both very difficult and illegal.

      Second: I hate the database, its supporting systems and the gung-ho approach the DCSF (central govt dept) have employed in its implementation. It is causing more work, problems and morale-breaking long-term consequences than most of the people on this site could conceive, to front-line workers and back-office support staff alike, and I would love nothing more than to see this project and many like it (see "Integrated Children's System") abandoned in favour of implementing some of the more relevant and critical recommendations of the Lord Laming report, which is what triggered the whole debacle, but I don't expect that to happen.

      I have suspected for a long time that this was a back-door approach to a national person database, which is why I don't believe the govt will let go in spite of its inevitable breach of the Data Protection Act once the children reach the age of majority.

      My biggest criticism of the entire suite of projects is that it completely fails to address - and in fact may exacerbate - the central problem with the Victoria Climbie case that it is supposed to solve. Specifically, she was recorded multiple times on multiple databases due to poorly trained users. Even then, there were several contacts with the child that should have led directly to intervention or at least in-depth investigation, with or without additional case background, but the workers involved failed to act.

      Fundamentally, the DCSF does not seem willing or able to accept a simple truth, fundamentally understood by all IT professionals and most of the people on this site: You cannot introduce software to prevent people from making mistakes. At best you can only change the type of mistake they make.

      Most social workers are actually insulted by the systems being introduced, because they increase the administrative workload (in spite of DCSF claims to the contrary) while removing the responsibility and flexibility for workers to make qualitative assessments and trained, experienced decisions.

      Even if central government are to be taken at their word, this system is a poor implementation of a poor solution to a serious problem, and will hinder as much as it helps. If not, this is - as you suggest - an insidious approach to a wider Big Brother agenda.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mangu (126918)

        Most social workers are actually insulted by the systems being introduced, because they increase the administrative workload (in spite of DCSF claims to the contrary) while removing the responsibility and flexibility for workers to make qualitative assessments and trained, experienced decisions.

        That's typical of what happens every time you start automating a bureaucratic process. The problem is that responsibility and flexibility are inversely proportional to security.

        TFA cites the death of a girl named Vic

  • by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:53AM (#27992733)

    390,000 people will have access to the database, but will have gone through stringent security training.

    That's great, but having people know security through (unspecified) 'stringent training' is no guarantee it will be carried out effectively.

    Oh, and at a nearly a quarter of a billion pounds, forgive my curiosity about precisely what value this is expected provide.

    Sounds like a rabid white elephant with dangerously sharp tusks.

    • Apologies for the self reply - but just to drive my incredulity home: If they spent half that budget on training (I suspect they spent much less than half), that's less than a £300 per head.

      Sure wish I could get some stringent security training for that money. Must be a big government discount.

  • This Will End Badly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcposch (1438157) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:55AM (#27992743)
    I bet Bruce Schneier will post on how bad an idea this is any hour now. Some classic Schneier: "Why Technology Won't Prevent Identity Theft" http://www.schneier.com/essay-255.html [schneier.com] ...and what about the old-fashioned Law of Large Numbers? If you give 390,000 people access to something, the chance that some of them are criminals is: 100%! (Rounded to the nearest six decimals or so.) Simply because there are 390,000 of them.
    • by Armakuni (1091299) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:09AM (#27992807) Homepage
      And of those criminals, a significant percentage will be precisely the kind of criminals that take an interest in kids. Pedophiles naturally gravitate toward jobs and extracurricular activities where they know that they will have a lot to do with kids. How many of them are now given access to all the info they need to seek out the most vulnerable kids in their neighborhood?
  • by realnowhereman (263389) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (snikrapydna)> on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:01AM (#27992767)

    http://lpuk.org/ [lpuk.org]

    I stumbled across this website last year. It is a very small (at present) political party. As far as I know, the only one who actively states they will scrap this state monitoring nonsense.

    Hopefully, some of the other parties will realise that people don't want to be monitored, and there are votes to be had out of it.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Is there some universal law that I missed whereby states won't get too big and abuse their power eventually? If anything, it's the other way round.

    • by digitig (1056110)
      On the other hand, defense and preserving law and order are the only two things they state as legitimate government spending, and the rest of their policies don't look to me to be libertarian so much as neocon, so I don't see much hope there for an end to the police state.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pjt33 (739471)

      As far as I know, the only one who actively states they will scrap this state monitoring nonsense.

      What about the Lib Dems? I know that one of their stated policies is the repeal of the Identity Cards Act.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here in Denmark, there is the CPR (central person registry), where EVERY person living in Denmark has a unique 10-digit number, and the state+ subscribing entities (such as tax, medical etc etc) has access to relevant data about you.

    Yet, that does not stop children from being abused, disappear etc.

    A database is worth little unless you implant a small tracking device in all you wish to track, and monitor constantly.

  • by jmak (409787) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:08AM (#27992799)

    Melchett: Now, I've compiled a list of those with security clearance, have you got it Darling?

    Darling: Yes sir.

    Melchett: Read it please.

    Darling: It's top security sir, I think that's all the Captain needs to know.

    Melchett: Nonsense! Let's hear the list in full!

    Darling: Very well sir. "List of personnel cleared for mission Gainsborough, as dictated by General C. H. Melchett: You and me, Darling, obviously. Field Marshal Haig, Field Marshal Haig's wife, all Field Marshal Haig's wife's friends, their families, their families' servants, their families' servants' tennis partners, and some chap I bumped into the mess the other day called Bernard."

    Melchett: So, it's maximum security, is that clear?

    Blackadder: Quite so sir, only myself and the rest of the English speaking world is to know.

  • by XavierItzmann (687234) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:10AM (#27992811)
    So, will they include in the database the 14-yr old Greater Manchester girl arrested for telling her teacher "can I change groups because I can't understand them?"

    The others where speaking Urdu and the the assignment was "discuss."

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-410150/Schoolgirl-arrested-refusing-study-non-English-pupils.html [dailymail.co.uk]

    I'd like to see the database entry for the arrested girl.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This only afffects England.

    Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own Devolved governing bodies which have been less interested in these massive Databases to date.

    England doesn't have such a body. It was offered but there was a lack of interest.

    • by noundi (1044080)

      England doesn't have such a body. It was offered but there was a lack of interest.

      Are you saying they have nobody?

  • Haha! Isn't UK known for notoriously making backups of their data in the cloud by leaving secret data lying around on trains, loosing unencrypted CDs in transit and alike? I can't wait until the first scandal arises about this database!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dugeen (1224138)
      Indeed. And give them as much training as you like, it still won't stop them flogging the data to private investigators and tabloid journalists.
  • Appalling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fleeced (585092) <fleeced@mail.LISPcom minus language> on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:21AM (#27992889)

    This is appalling - the "facepalm" tag is spot on. I have a great fondness for the UK, even though I've only visited once, and the people there have my sympathies for such bureaucratic stupidity. Policies like this and ASBO's of the last few years have had a disastrous effect... government is getting way too intrusive over there.

    Sadly, I think Australia is heading in the same direction, though at least the Australia Card/Access Card proposals have been shelved by the current mob (for now)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Jedi Alec (258881)

      and the people there have my sympathies for such bureaucratic stupidity. Policies like this and ASBO's of the last few years have had a disastrous effect... government is getting way too intrusive over there.

      The people have your sympathies? Who do you think puts these twerps in power in the first place?

  • by redhog (15207) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:24AM (#27992903) Homepage

    Seriously, doesn't anyone think of the children?! Please?!

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:25AM (#27992909)
    Invalid entry
    Syntax error
    Test ignore
    Null value
    And my personal favorite:
    rm -rf
  • Already exists? (Score:2, Informative)

    by PhilJC (928205)
    I was under the impression that the information to be contained within this database already exists in one form or another and this is the problem that they are trying to solve. Currently this information resides in a hundred different systems and only a small proportion of these systems actually talk and exchange information between them. Such a fragmented system surely can't be good for anyone and by collating it we ensure everyone involved has the entire picture rather than just their service/authoriti
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pisto_grih (1165105)

      Such a fragmented system introduces security through obscurity, but by collating it we ensure everyone involved has the entire picture, rather than just what they need to know about the child.

      Fixed that for you.

    • Re:Already exists? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:02AM (#27993101)
      the information to be contained within this database already exists in one form or another

      Yes, but the purpose of this project is to put it in a leakier sieve.

  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:41AM (#27992993)
    Announced to the media when the government are being hammered in the news over some other scandal. They do this all the time, the Torries before them did it too. Often they announce shit they KNOW is controversial and have no intention of actually doing just to make the press write about something else and forget the scandal they were writing about. It's the equivalent of waving a new flashy toy at a toddler to distract him so you can grab her blanky to get it washed as she won't knowingly let it go.

    As far as the cost is concerned, the government just got an influx of unexpected cash from ministers in the form of repayments, so they can afford to splurge a little on some untendered, no doubt proprietary solution provided by an IT company who spend more on lobbying than their solutions, no doubt running on Windows. They will also keep the details hidden behind a commercial confidentiality NDA excuse too.

    Labour do seem hell bent on kicked out at the next election with the added bonus of becoming unelectable, good luck to the bastards.
    • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:48AM (#27993033)
      Sorry to reply to my own post but /. does not have an edit feature so I had to add a new post for further points.

      The other side to this approach is that whatever one the press go for, the other gets a reasonably free ride. If the press stick with the expense abuse / fraud stories, the database / invasion of privacy story goes undetected, and most likely without any opposition; meaning the government can then claim "hey, we did our part legally and announced it, nobody complained." If they go for the database story MPs who have had their feet to the fire over allegations of fraud get breathing time to destroy evidence, practice their excuses and call in favors which may keep them in a job....or at least keep their pensions and be allowed to resign with no charges to face and their reputations intact.

      Either way it's a lose / lose for the people. Let's hope the people remember these games at election day.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:42AM (#27992999) Homepage

    In roughly 18 years time, these children will be young adults and they'll still have all their information.
    Add a few more decades and they'll have complete details over every child and adult simply because the children have grown old.

    • Will the information be all that accurate or valuable after 18 years?

      Luckily for the government kids today will grow into adults that don't have any concept of privacy. For the twitter and myspace generation, their private lives are made public to millions of strangers, and it doesn't bother them one bit. While the rest of us lose sleep some nights wondering who has gotten into our personal info and what they might decide to do with it.

  • by auric_dude (610172) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:46AM (#27993015)
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by atraintocry (1183485) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:16AM (#27993179)

    No, seriously, why?

    Are children like some sort of disease that need to be tracked? Of what use is it to these "childcare professionals" to know the name of every child in the UK?

    Over time this is going to be a 1:1 census.

    What are the benefits of this that outweigh the severe risk of having all of that data in one place? It seems like once a week there's an article on here about some huge privacy violation that the UK is already finished with. And this...I don't know anymore. It's just absurd at this point.

  • Can some one with a clue please fix the headline on this article? UK is not the same as England. English legislation and English databases do not apply to the whole of the UK.

  • One good thing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by squoozer (730327) on Monday May 18, 2009 @06:25AM (#27993489)

    There is only one good thing about this database: it's another cost for the Government to bare and it will require more staff to maintain it. As a UK tax payer you might think I'm mad for saying that but hear me out.

    We have a rot in our country that is causing the state to grow almost totally unchecked. The people are broadly split into two camps: those working every hour FSM sends and those sponging of the state. The workers don't have time to try to change the system the spongers don't want to. The only way it's going to get better is for it to collapse under it's own weight and get rebuilt hopefully better (but probably with the same flaws).

    Perhaps it seems a little defeatist of me to say this but think about it for a moment. When was the last time the people paying the tax really got a say in anything? I don't have the figures but I would bet that the largest group of non-voters are working people. Not only are they becoming a minority (government workers don't count) they are suffering exclusion problems too.

  • by myxiplx (906307) on Monday May 18, 2009 @06:32AM (#27993533)

    Bear in mind folks that this is the same government who admit to an 86% infection rate *each year* among the 5,000 odd computers used at Westminster:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/15/mp_malware_leak_risk/ [theregister.co.uk]

    Yes, that's 4,300 infected machines a year, with 400 hit badly enough that they get cleaned manually (and I hope to god manual intervention means wipe and start again, but I doubt it somehow).

    So, that's a nigh on certainty that the login details for the database are already well known to 3rd parties then...

  • by damburger (981828) on Monday May 18, 2009 @06:44AM (#27993619)
    This is fallout from the Baby P incident. One tragic case of failure in social services got hammered by the media for weeks, complete with pictures of cute-now-dead toddler, and the newspapers got into full on campaign mode. The government has no choice but to respond. Our IT policy is being dictated by the emotional reaction people have to a small child being beaten to death. Rationality has truly gone out the window.
  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:03AM (#27995641)

    Fault tolerance must be less than .00000256% for such a system to be safe. That is a completely unrealistic standard.

    One person is enough to compromise secrecy, and just because you can know who that is, doesn't mean you can retrieve what was already stolen.

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.

Working...