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Hell in a handcart Technology

If you need exemptions, the whole thing’s bollocks

Mr Eugenides is angry about the government’s plans for a children’s database, which will track every single child in the country. Today, it’s because of the news that the super-secure, uncrackable database will have special exemptions for kids of celebrities, because otherwise there’s a risk of kidnapping. As he quite rightly points out:

If this database is so secure, why do certain extra-special moppets’ records need to be roped off from the rest of them? Because it won’t be secure at all.

And of course, the database – which will specifically identify vulnerable children – will be a fantastic tool for kiddie-fiddlers. Mr Eugenides quotes Professor Ross Anderson:

“There will always be bent insiders. If you connect all these systems up and if you’ve got over a million professionals needing to access this every day it will all get out. Paedophiles for example can use the database to find out which children in their neighbourhood are vulnerable and where they live.”

I’ve written about database nonsense before, but here’s a quick summary: whenever there’s a big database of personal data, it’s abused. Here’s an example from 2004:

Misuse of the Police National Computer (PNC) by officers is undermining public confidence in the police’s ability to handle data, according to the deputy chair of the police complaints commission.

Speaking on 15 July, 2004, John Wadham said that the failure to retain and pass on data is a “misconduct” issue for police, as much as the misuse of PNC data which has been a “consistent problem” over the last 20 years.

Wadham referred to cases where officers have misused the PNC to find information on a partner’s estranged husband, to check out a daughter’s boyfriend or to gain evidence for civil proceedings. He said there is a “perennial problem of data being sold to private detectives”.