Monday, 18 May 2009

Child Protection and Data Protection

The UK government has switched on a centralized database of information about at-risk children whilst fears remain that the data itself could be at-risk.

Have they ensured that the data is cared for in the same way that they wish the individual children themselves are cared for?

The motivation for centralizing the data is strong. Many organizations and individuals hold separate facts about at-risk children. However, the inability to prevent the poor treatment of children is often reported to be the result of protection agencies not having all the accumulated facts in one place.

So, am I saying a centralized database is a good thing? Well, not entirely. Having concentrated the data in one place makes it a powerful tool for good and detecting inappropriate interactions with vulnerable children, it is now a single target for those disturbed individuals that commit such crimes.

Just like at-risk children, highly sensitive databases need to be closely monitored for inappropriate access and activity. Systems and processes need to be established to ensure that only authorized individuals can access the appropriate data and only in ways that are appropriate.
Children deserve to be cared for appropriately. So too do databases.