Friday, December 01, 2006

Podcast interview with Ross Anderson

Outlaw have a podcast interview with Ross Anderson about the government's approach to child surveillance and the powerful FIPR report for the Information Comissioner on same.

Ross highlights what he considers to be the two main concerns raised in the report. Firstly that by asking social workers to look into the affairs of about a hundred times more children, the overwhelming majority of whom need absolutely no such intervention, the government will take scarce resources away from children at risk, with the result that some of these children at risk will come to harm. Secondly the kind of intervention that is justifiable in cases where children are truly at risk e.g. where parent or guardian suspected of criminal abuse - e.g. removing the child from the family and holding the suspect in custody - is illegal if the intervention is as a result of welfare concerns such as not doing as well as might be expected at school. Child protection justifies overriding privacy and the wishes of a parent suspected of being a serious criminal but this is not the case in child welfare.

He also makes the point that in the case of the databases related to youth justice, the Home Office takes the view that it is immune from data protection and human rights law i.e. if it is using any data for police purposes it can do what it likes regardless of the law. "The government is not obeying the law of the land when it comes to getting consent for data sharing from children and their families."

It's a relatively short interview and worth listening to in full.

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