back to article rejects calls to open up on ContactPoint security

The UK government has turned down an opposition request to explain why it has refused to publish a full security report into ContactPoint, the controversial child protection database. Deloitte carried out of a security audit of the scheme but the government only published an executive summary, rather than the whole report, …


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  1. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Big Brother

    Won't someone..

    So, once a child is on this database, are they removed once they reach 18 or are they just migrated across to the National one?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      Children stay on until aged 25 was the last I heard.

      I have spent months trying to get a straight answer out of DCSF re the use of "shielding" and why it is necessary, but never got a straight answer yet.

      Paradox 1: a compulsory database of all children has been set up to "safeguard" children, yet the mere act of including a child on the database can expose them to "risk" (unspecified) - to which the answer is "shielding". Discuss.

      Currently waiting for an answer to this same question that has been submitted to Ed 'Stasi' Balls by my MP. Won't be holding my breath waiting for a response.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Shielding - The Dead Giveaway

        Shielding is, as your post indicates, a dead giveaway. It's the smoking gun, still in the hand of government. It demonstrates, clear as day, that ContactPoint was never about protecting children.

        If shielding helps protect children, then why not automatically apply it to all children on ContactPoint?

        If shielding reduces the effectiveness of ContactPoint as a way of protecting children, then why is it applied to the most vulnerable children who are most in need of such protection?

        The massive, blunderous giveaway that shielding is proves that ContactPoint isn't really about protecting children. It proves that ContactPoint actually has another, different purpose. What is that real purpose of ContactPoint? It's a secret. It's obviously not something good, otherwise the government would tell us what it is, instead of lying about what ContactPoint is for. Shielding proves that ContactPoint's real purpose is something sinister.

        Shielding is proof that this is not merely an incompetent government, but a truly sinister one, with genuinely sinister intentions.

        And it's taking a sinister interest in all your children.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Victoria Climbie - Shielded?

        Would Victoria Climbie have been shielded?

    2. David 105
      Big Brother

      Knowing this government...

      The database will probably send the local constabulary a reminder "advising" them that someone has reached the age whereby DNA profile information can be retained for 6 years, and they'd better get a unit round to catch them doing something, anything, that justifies an arrest

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Bloody tyipical...

    ...of this increasingly facist government; while they want to have unfettered access to every byte of our data, and can lock us up just for wanting a little privacy (via RIPA) they are equaly obsessed with keeping their own dirty dealing secret!

    I suspect that many will take the opportunity at the next election to give them a good hard kick in the majority by voting Lib Dem and forcing a coalition government where legislation will actually be subjected to some scrutiny once again!

  3. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    A more Open and Transparent Government

    Vote for the Lib Dems and try and create a coalition government

    The two party system isn't working because they say one thing and then do another in the same breath.

  4. Ben 56
    Thumb Down

    Typical government

    ...always reactive instead of proactive

    "and an audit trail will be maintained to ensure that incidents can be investigated."

    Here's me thinking audit trails on all government confidential databases were a norm.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    How the government makes all it's decisions...

    step 1. ask an experts advice

    step 2. tell them to shut up and do whatever you want

    (and if necessary)

    step 3. destroy/hide/doctor the experts advice

    And the sad and ironic thing is, the public will never do anything about it because they're too busy watching a TV show that's actually called "Big Brother".

    Is there no way the smart people can start their own government inside the UK, dealing specifically with everyone of an IQ higher than 120, while our current government can have their way with the boozed up X Factor fans and football hooligans? After all, they're the ones who don't want to look after their kids in the first place. Maybe if they did we wouldn't have this bloody database?

  6. EnricoSuarve

    Nothing to hide

    Just guessing but the "nothing to hide nothing to fear" crowd won't be participating in this conversation right?

    Thought not - probably too busy on other threads reassuring us about how government databases are always secure, well managed and that we should welcome our data obsessed overlords.

    Beer cos this government are fast driving me to it, it's become the only thing that makes teh stupids go quiet for a little while.

  7. Lost in a maze of twisty messages, all alike.

    Re: How the government makes all it's decisions

    @AC 14:06: You forget step 4. publicly and noisily sack the independent expert if they dare to point out the facts.

  8. Mark McC
    Thumb Down

    I'm getting old and cynical

    "Around 11 million records will be included in the planned database, which is being created in response to the murder of Victoria Climbié by her abusive guardians in 2000."

    The tragic death of a young girl, which could have been prevented by adequate training, funding and staffing for overstretched social workers, and the government's solution is to reward a lucrative IT contract to one of its preferred business partners.

    How would these 11 million records have saved her life? The social workers involved still would have been handling more cases than they could cope with. Instead of a decent staffing and front-line support we get a database of dubious utility and crap security. I've ashamedly been involved in the development of some - most of the cash goes on consulation fees, shoddy specifications and expensive trips to committee meetings with the developers left to knock up something that half-works at the last minute.

    Sometimes I think the government has these multi-million pound contracts sitting on the back burner just waiting for some tragic situation to occur so they can pimp them to the public as part of the response and start writing out those beefy cheques to their business buddies.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Points of clarification here, please.

    There are about a 800k people per year (60Mil people/average life expectancy of 75yrs).

    therefore there should be, about, 13.6 mill younsgters on the database not 11 million - or are we just talking England & Wales here? this is over 20% error. How is this accounted for? Is it representative of the sloppy arithmetic used elswhere?

    If not National then what is happening in Scotland and how different is it. Beter/worse?

    To coin a line from a Film... (I think) "I'm as mad as hell and I aint gonna take this no more..."

    1. sheila


      This is what is happening in Scotland:

      GIRFEC evaluation just out.

      As you can see the GIRFEC/eCare combo makes Contactpoint look pretty puny.

      Funnily enough, some people are going to a lot of effort to make everyone to think that the Scottish system is less intrusive than the English one:

      The last ranty comment is mine....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    at 44 million pounds a year they could hire (assuming £35,000 per frontline worker for all the infastructure/management/admin/etc) you could hire 1257 social workers.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    So what....

    ...So what happens when the kids become 16 or 18....are the continued to be tracked on a centralised database? Wait a minute, that makes them adults....Oh...I see...I get it..Right..Carry on :)

  12. Nomen Publicus

    Security via government denial?

    The security situation must be really bad for the government to be so paranoid.

    BTW, The icon should be moved to the almost empty left hand column.

  13. Richard 12 Silver badge

    @Anon Numbers

    Yes, it doesn't include Scotland.

    Scotland has its own legal system, which is messed up in entirely different ways.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    This sounds familar

    "This request has also been turned down on the grounds that advice to ministers ought to remain confidential or else advisers would hold back from giving their honest opinion in future"

    Was that not the line on the "Traffic light" reviews on wheather ID cards were a good idea?

    NB This is an *audit* of a system due to go live. It is not *advice* about a plan to build a system.

    Their justification (at least in this instance) does not have a leg to stand on.

    The relevant Conservative Shadow minister could state that they will publish this report as a matter of course, if elected.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wonder how easy it would be to simply run an oracle EXPort of the data, stick it on to a USB pen drive....

    Something tells me this would be very easy..

  16. David 105
    Big Brother

    No title required!

    "This request has also been turned down on the grounds that advice to ministers ought to remain confidential or else advisers would hold back from giving their honest opinion in future"

    You mean as opposed to the current situation where advice is given, ignored by ministers, advisor gets frustrated and states publicly what advice was given, adviser is forced out for making advised minister look a bit of a numpty?

    If THAT state of affairs doesn't "persuade" advisers to hold back from giving their honest opinion I don't know what will

  17. sheila

    The great big surveillance in the guise of child protection scam

    Lord Laming’s report following the Victoria Climbie inquiry, which is ubiquitously cited as the catalyst for children’s services reform, was published on 28 January 2003.

    Privacy and data-sharing: the way forward for public services - a performance and innovation report dated 2002 - was published by the UK Government and set out (among other intended reforms) changes to children's services which the public and professionals were led to believe were being instigated as a result of the Laming reports.

    "Helping children in need

    Objective: To reduce the number of children missing substantial periods of school and ensure children do not miss out on core public services.

    Need for better data use: Information sharing between local agencies to advise local education authorities of the whereabouts of children for whom they have a duty to provide education, and to develop an overview of individual needs to enable a more targeted response.

    Issues: Every year a substantial number of children are lost from the school rolls and become ‘invisible’ to the local education authorities which have responsibility for providing their education.

    However, the majority of these children will be known to other local agencies – GPs, social services, housing authorities, the Benefits Agency, voluntary sector organisations, immigration authorities and others. At local level, protocols often do not exist for agencies to share information, and where channels of communication are in place, data protection issues can be a barrier to providing effective interventions for children. Good practice on joint working does exist in many areas but it is not replicated throughout the country. There is no co-ordinated approach to the spread of good practice. Better use of the full range of information held by government on this key customer group would enable all services to be tailored to meet their specific needs, ensuring that children are able to make the most of their potential. Information from all key service providers – education, health, social services and so on – would need to be brought together securely in order to enable services to target responses."

  18. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    So yet again NuLabour showing they are utterly arrogant hypocrites :( ...

    They want to spy relentlessly on all of us, yet we are not allowed to know what they are doing, yet allegedly they are suppose to work for us!

    @Steve 70: "voting Lib Dem and forcing a coalition government"

    Nice idealist view, but its a massive gamble as apparently Labour sheeple account for around 30% of the voters. So if you fragment the votes enough Labour (OMG) could even get into power again. So its one hell of a gamble I'm not willing to take. (Also I find the Lib Dem leader very too faced).

    @irish donkey: "The two party system isn't working because they say one thing and then do another in the same breath."

    I totally agree, but then all politicians are playing this lying game in all political parties. So until we can create a political system which polices their lies and so only gives them power on the understanding their employers (us) can watch their every move, then we are always going to suffer these two faced arrogant greedy people getting into power for their own gain. We need to turn Big Brother inwards into policing everything they do. If they don't like it they don't take the job. They work for us and need to be legally prevented from this secretive behavior in such a way they cannot then change the law to create exceptions to undermine scrutiny into their lies and double dealings. The problem is they would never allow such a system to be created. (Which in itself shows the feeling the political elite work against us, not for us. They don't want openness as this news shows).

    Personally I will vote Conservative simply to try to reverse some of the financial mess NuLabour have created although I hold out no hope of any party ever removing much of NuLabour's Totalitarian Police State they have created. Conservatives may remove some, but I think the Totalitarian Police State is going to be a battle thats separate from elections as no party will ever really want to solve this problem as they all want power and so will not give up so much power that a Totalitarian Police State gives them. They only ever want more power not less.

    The one party I would most fear getting in (other than NuLabour again) is the BNP because they would do what they say they would do, for about a month (at most) then spend the rest of the time, abusing their position of power to create a nightmare country only Hitler could imagine. Giving the BNP control of the Totalitarian Police State NuLabour have created, would be an utter nightmare. I would have to leave the UK, as no way would I suffer living in that nightmare.

    What I'm wondering is how many of NuLabour will try to get into EU power to continue their rain of tyranny. Looks like the career politicians over the past about 20 years have slowly created an entirely new rich career path that was once only open to Hitler.

    Also the EU growing power base means that whatever rules we try to get in at a country level, (to police the politicians) would most definitely result in the EU politicians fearing and fighting back against it all to undermine it, (because they would fear it also being used against them) so I very much suspect its going to be extremely difficult to ever bring in a way to police the politicians the way they control it all for their own gain. :(

    They have us all trapped in this web of their rules and laws to prop up their rule over us all, ultimately for their own gain.

    So much for any of them being our political representatives. They show they are all our masters not our representatives. :(

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, no yes-men here.

    And why would that be? I think they're cozying up to teh poluticians. And doing very well, if they're all working in IT. So why aren't we having a good chat with them instead of agreeing with ourselves here?

  20. Mary Hawking

    Audit trails and human behaviour

    ."always reactive instead of proactive

    "and an audit trail will be maintained to ensure that incidents can be investigated."

    Here's me thinking audit trails on all government confidential databases were a norm."

    Having an audit trail for NHS smartcard access in NHS Hull didn't prevent unauthorised access to patient records for over a year: what makes ContactPoint security so much better?

    And will being slapped across the knuckles with a wet fish - supposing someone notices a pattern (what if you only want one specific child.s - or both their parents' - contact details?) - act as a deterent in the majority of cases?

    Technical security is obviously necessary - but isn't it a bit like expecting a notice saying "Shoplifters will be prosecuted" to put an end to shoplifting?

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    @minion zero

    The best voting advice.

    Find out who your current MP is and what party they belong to.

    Do you like them and/or their party?

    If yes, vote for them.

    If no find out who was runner up last time.

    Vote for them next time.

    The UK electorial system forces *someone* to be elected, even if its only on the basis of the candidate most likely to turf out the encubent / least hated.

  22. ExpertSkeptic
    Big Brother

    Who is the real data subject?

    ContactPoint is not about safeguarding children, full stop. That is merely a marketing ploy. It is an extremely rapid way of locating information about adults, namely the parents of the children and the acquaintances of those parents, by providing links into other databases which contain all the gossipy jottings by social workers, their managers, and health visitors and teachers, thus enabling the local authority to acquire and maintain the ability to monitor and control family structure, adoptions, social groupings and other inter-personal relationships. Assuming that a parent or `professional' or public employee acting `on behalf of' a parent is even allowed access to ContactPoint, you can bet that any information it links to will be heavily redacted. Try asking your GP to access ContactPoint for you and see what the response is!

    Any serious report on security is inevitably going to allow at least one paw of the cat out of the bag.

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