Warning over secret database featuring 8m children
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By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
5:08PM GMT 11 Nov 2012
IT specialists from one of Britain’s biggest private companies are compiling the system, which features information on pupils’ age, sex, address, exam results, absenteeism and disciplinary record, it was revealed.
The database – set up by Capita – is reportedly being used by around 100 local authorities to act as a single source of information for officials working with children.
But the move raised fresh concerns about data security.
It comes just two years after Labour’s controversial ContactPoint system – containing the personal details of all children in England – was scrapped because of major fears that it was vulnerable to hackers.
Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, told The Sunday Times: “It is ContactPoint by another name. Parents will be shocked that they are being kept in the dark about how their child’s information is being gathered and exactly what it is used for.”
According to reports, teachers are currently uploading information on pupils to the “Capita One” database as often as six times a day.
Capita also hires photographers to take pictures of pupils, which are offered for sale to parents before being uploaded onto the database, it emerged.
The data is currently employed by local authorities but it is thought that other organisations working with children, including youth offending teams and police officers, will also be given access.
Capita said the information provided a “single view” of a child in each local area but insisted schools and councils took data protection seriously.
A spokesman told The Sunday Times: “Each local authority holds and manages permission and access to its own information held in its Capita One database. Capita One is not a centralised database for the whole country.”
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