First, I’ve come across a very valuable resource for anyone who’s interested in the issued raised by The Information Commissioner’s Study of the Children’s Database: this is the Database Masterclass,
a blog project designed to give you your very own cut-out’n’keep guide to all of the children’s databases (note the plural). Because it’s complicated, we’ve built it up in steps. Start at #1 and work through to #14.
which does what it says on the label.
This is produced by ARCH, Action on Rights For Children, whose website has detailed information on the proposed database.
Second, some time ago Polly Toynbee, in the course of dismissing concerns about privacy and civil liberties as ‘a middle-class disorder’ made the spectacularly fatuous observation that ‘if Tesco knows what I buy, I am having trouble frightening myself’.
Not just Tesco, though, Pol. Have you studied the small print on your Tesco’s loyalty card and are you sure about with whom and under what circumstances you’ve given your informed consent for the data on your shopping to be shared with a third party? I ask because I do not know; I won’t have a supermarket loyalty card precisely because I’ve in the past worked with a company that writes data mining software (primarily for the financial services industry) and I know how loose such agreements are.
I raise the question because, notoriously, children’s eating habits, or, at least, whether or not they’re eating their recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, are one of the many matters to be recorded about them. So, too, under certain circumstances, are their parents’ drinking habits.
Natural enough, if someone’s got concerns about how little Tarquin (or, more likely, little Kylie) is doing at school, to want to supplement his information by taking a look at Mum’s shopping habits to make sure she’s not stuffing the poor mite with Turkey Twizzlers when she’s not drinking herself under the table with Tesco’s own brand gin, so’s he can get social services to give her some parenting lessons if necessary. Easy enough, too — we have the technology — and if she hasn’t actually given her permission, which I suspect she may well have done when she took out the card, that’s probably easily remedied by a Statutory Instrument or two.
And who but a middle-class privacy and civil liberties freak like me could object? It’s in the child’s best interests, after all, isn’t it?
tag: Civil Liberties
, Information Commissioner
, Every Child Matters
, Children’s Database
, Polly Toynbee