Thursday, August 31, 2006

Privacy: One law for them, one law for us

The Telegraph reports that "Celebrity children will get database privacy" in the Orwellian "Children's Index":
Children of celebrities will be given special safeguards in a new database that will store details of every child in England and Wales, it was disclosed yesterday. ...

Ministers said the contentious two-tier level of privacy will protect children of the rich and famous from intrusion.

Addresses and telephone numbers of celebrities will be removed from the database if, for example, their children are deemed at risk of kidnap.

But opponents of the £241 million Children's Index — a supposedly confidential system intended as an early warning system for children at risk of abuse — said the move underlined their concerns about its security.

In further embarrassment to the Government, an independent report commissioned by Parliament's Information Commissioner and due to be published next month, is understood to warn that the index is causing serious concern and is possibly unlawful.

There are fears that it does not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and may contravene the Data Protection Act. ...

Files are held by many bodies on the 11 million children in England and Wales, but the index will link this sensitive information in one database accessible to hundreds of thousands of officials. ...

Lord Adonis, the education minister, told the House of Lords: 'Between 300,000 and 400,000 users will access the index. Children who have a reason for not being traced, for example where there is a threat of domestic violence or where the child has a celebrity status, will be able to have their details concealed.'

Robert Whelan, the deputy director of the think-tank Civitas, said Lord Adonis's remarks showed there were legitimate concerns about the security of the index.

'The Government is showing it has no confidence in this database,' he said.

'There have been all these assurances it is secure, but how can we believe them now? I will tell you who will be off the register — the Blairs' children. This is just politicians protecting their own.

'And how is the Government going to define celebrity? It is a very fluid term — an assembly of high-profile clergy, disgraced politicians, topless models, pop singers and reality TV contestants.' ...

But, in an interview for tomorrow's Channel 4 programme Your Kids Under Surveillance, Prof Ross Anderson, an author of the report sent to the Information Commissioner, expressed concern about security.

'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.'

No comments:

Post a comment