ContactPoint Database To End Anonymity In UK?

The ContactPoint database is a UK project that seeks to include far-ranging information about every person under the age of 18 in Britain. The £224 million computer system was announced in the wake of the death of Victoria Climbié, who tragically fell through the cracks of different support services in that country.

However, it has now emerged that police officers, council staff, head teachers, doctors and care workers will use the records to search for evidence of criminality and wrongdoing to help them launch prosecutions against those on the database - even long after they have reached adulthood.

Investigators opening a ContactPoint file would be able to see at a glance where they had lived throughout their childhood, where they had gone to school, what contact they had with social services and who their parents or carers were, and use the information to link them to known gangs or areas of criminal or anti-social activity.

Privacy advocates point out that the launch of the ContactPoint system was itself delayed when data discs containing 25 million child benefit records was lost.

Civil libertarians are also concerned by clauses in ContactPoint's bylaws that apparently allow unlimited use of the system by investigators who can "trawl" for illegal activity. Also, it is not clear when (or whether) archived records will ever be released or destroyed.


(Poster for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)

What would a society look like if dominated by information provided by a source like the ContactPoint database? In the Buck Rogers television series, the future society of Earth lacked anonymity entirely. One of the key benefits that Rogers could provide is that he was completely outside their system, which identified every person absolutely. See the discussion around 41:30 in the episode Buck Rogers: Awakening (Part 2).

From Child protection database 'will be used to prosecute young people'; thanks to Moira for the tip and references for this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/26/2008)

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