Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More Big Brother (and I don't mean reality TV.)

Child index intrudes on privacy

I find myself, as each day goes by, further horrified by the creeping intrusion into the privacy of my family by organs of the state, and fear more and more the growth of databases created by our control freak Prime Minister Tony Blair. I often opined here about Blair's Big Brother State with it's obsession on collecting information about every facet of our daily lives, of the destruction of our personal information, and with it, our personal values and esteem. We are watched by millions of CCTV cameras, we are told that our biometric details will need to be carried in a microchip on an ID card, we will have our DNA source sampled if we ever have cause to help the police with their enquiries, and now our children are about to have the whole of their lives recorded on a Child Index, apparently for the benefit of those professionals who need to spot early warning signs of whatever it is they feel the need to intrude upon!

There are always good reasons why these big databases are built, of course, it is modernism (so we can't argue about that), it is for our safety and protection (it seems we can't look after it ourselves), it is in the interests of national security ( may as well scare us about the terrorist threats), it is to harmonise and rationalise existing sources of information (it is to look after more public service jobs), the list goes on and on. Yet, it seems we are prepared to sleep walk into this Orwellian nightmare without a care about who has access to this information, how secure it is, and how competant and effective the hardware is - and this government has a frightful record on I.T. systems.

In his latest drive to undermine the institution of the family and parenting, Tony Blair wishes to set up this 224 million pound database which a report for the Parliamentary Information Commissioner describes as something which will "waste millions of pounds, undermine parental authority, and actually put children in more danger". Experts in child protection, law and computers, who have written today's report, express astonishment that a Government which emphasises the importance of good parenting also plans to devalue the status of the mother and father with a Big Brother surveillance system which violates the law and is not secure.

Such a system may also hold inaccurate information, tarnishing families or children unfairly. "Families' privacy and autonomy is being shattered as the Government puts them all under surveillance," they say. "Government policy proposes treating all parents as if they cannot be trusted to bring up their children."

Doctors, schools and the police will have to alert the database to a wide range of "concerns". Two warning flags on a child's record could trigger an investigation.

In a leader in today's Daily Telegraph an excellent appraisal is made of the way in which working class family values and traditions have been steadily eroded to the point at which they have almost disappeared in this experiment in social engineering by Blair's government, and yet they always come up with more solutions to the problems which it appears they have created themselves! Today it's the "super nannies" from the Super State, of course chastisement won't be part of their brief, instead they will be educating errant parents on how to bring up children, we have yet to learn what form the enforcement of this will take. Some of the comments on the article are worth reading:

The obsession of the State with surveillance and their interference in the everyday life is deeply disturbing to me. The approach of attempting to monitor on greater and greater scales is truly absurd when dangers and threats need to be isolated and tackled in a discrete manner. The States obsessions pervade all aspects of interface - by monitoring your waste, how you travel - domestic and international - where you travel, your housing circumstances, raising of your children, etc, etc.
In virtually all cases of the "Social Engineering" contemplated by the article the States interference, has had devastatingly negative consequences.
In general and up to now, the monitoring and interference has certain impacts on normal law abiding citizens - those that require corrective actions or those from which the public need protection simply bypass the system in any event.
Having returned to this Country after a thirty year absence working internationally I am horified at the current level of unnecessary State interferences.
There must be meaningful action groups which address this matter of misdirection which in any case is symptomatic of incompetance.

Posted by Mike on November 22, 2006 8:53 AM

This bloke Blair is now turning out to be a power freak. Will this ludicrous Index record whether or not the child wears matching socks on a regular basis? One wonders what sinister conclusions will be drawn if not?
The various 'Big Brother' programmes may be a pathetic attempt at providing entertainment, but this scheme beggars belief.
Will someone, please, put an end to the delinquent mianderings of this ridiculous government?

Posted by Steve on November 22, 2006 8:33 AM

All of what you say is highly relevant and cogent .... so why is there a deafening silence, as usual, from the oppposition who should be telling us how they are going to dismanrtle asll this state apparatus and start to rebuild the notion of personal responsibility and the sort of moral and neighbourhood suppport and consensus that you describe.

Posted by anthony tucker on November 22, 2006 7:37 AM

The last comment is surely the most relevant, the next Tory government is going to have to work long and hard to wake up the majority of us who do not realise how pervasive the state has become, how overly big that it is, how much of our daily lives and income it consumes, how much of the national economy the state devours. There is a lot of dismantling to be done!

Meanwhile, if you are a motorist, don't get stopped by the police on the M62 if you're speeding - you will be asked to give your fingerprint (even though you have not committed a criminal offence) to add to yet another database, just where will it all end up? !!!


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