Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) have today released a series of videos outlining the dangers posed to children by the Government's plans to roll-out ever larger databases which track their development and contact with social services. The two systems in the ACRH spotlight are ContactPoint, a directory of all children which tracks them from birth and provides a list of the agencies with which they have come into contact, and the Common Assessment Framework (eCAF), an in-depth, personal assessment tool for cross-agency information-sharing on children not seen to be progressing well enough towards the government's "five outcomes".
The videos are short, snappy, and well worth watching. Here are some choice quotes from the experts interviewed:
"This whole information sharing, 'Every Child Matters" agenda has been sold as a response to the death of Victoria Climbie. In fact that isn't true. This agenda was under discussion years before... It was initially envisaged as part of the e-Government agenda. The agenda to create a central spine... through which all services would be provided. And early on children were identified as a useful area to start."
Terri Dowty, Director, ARCH
"The methodology that has evolved in Whitehall... is towards building large centralised databases that allow greater... control of the activities of public sector workers out in the field. And I'm afraid that this has become a programme that has acquired its own momentum and has been driven as an e-Government thing, rather than as a social work thing. And that's wrong. If you want decent systems, they've got to be driven by the people who are actually going to use them."
Professor Ross Anderson
"The government's talking about over 300,000 people having authorised access. Inevitably, some of those people will be open to taking bribes to provide information from the database to people who shouldn't have access."
Dr Ian Brown
"The 'Every Child Matters' agenda is an agenda of criminalising children, rather than protecting them. If you're going to view children as potentially being a problem to society then it's very difficult to view those same children as possible victims of child abuse."
Dr Elizabeth Davies
"Too often, government responds to various legitimate fears about child protection and terrorism with the idea that what we need are ever larger databases [but] of you're looking for a needle in a haystack, why build an ever bigger haystack?"
Shami Chakrabati, Director, Liberty
Watch the videos here:
Check out ORG's campaign resources on Children's digital rights on the ORGwiki.