Feeds

UK.gov hoovers up data on five-year-olds

What I did on my holidays, and all the other days

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

The government obsession with collecting data has now extended to five-year-olds, as local Community Health Services get ready to arm-twist parents into revealing the most intimate details of their own and their child’s personal, behavioural and eating habits.

The questionnaire – or "School Entry Wellbeing Review" – is a four-page tick-box opus, at present being piloted in Lincolnshire, requiring parents to supply over 100 different data points about their own and their offspring’s health. Previously, parents received a "Health Record" on the birth of a child, which contained around eight questions which needed to be answered when that child started school.

The Review asks parents to indicate whether their child "often lies or cheats": whether they steal or bully; and how often they eat red meat, takeaway meals or fizzy drinks.

However, the interrogation is not limited to intimate details of a child’s health. Parents responding to the survey are asked to provide details about their health and their partner’s health, whether they or their partner are in paid employment, and even to own up to whether or not their child is upset when they (the parent) returns to a room.

Completing the review is, according to a spokeswoman for Lincolnshire Community Health Services (CHS) "entirely the choice of the parent". However, the letter accompanying the review states: "Please complete the enclosed questionaire …and return it to school in the envelope provided within the next 7 days."

There is no indication on the letter of a parent’s right to opt out, and parents we have spoken with have expressed fears that failure to fill out this questionnaire might mean their child’s access to health services would be diminshed.

One went so far as to say that she found the entire exercise terrifying: given the way in which social services were nowadays so quick to intervene in children’s lives, she felt that merely objecting to this questionnaire might lead to her and her child being placed on some sort of risk register.

Ginny Blackoe, Head of Family and Healthy Lifestyle Services, confirmed that children would not be excluded from the School Nursing service on the basis of non-completion of the health needs assessment. She went on: "On reflection I agree that this should have been clearer in the letter accompanying the questionnaire and I will ensure that this is actioned by the Lead for School Nursing."

She also explained that as part of Lincolnshire’s softly-softly consensual approach to data gathering, this initial communication will be followed up with a reminder and then a third letter and a potential home visit from the School Nursing team.

El Reg put a number of specific questions both to Lincolnshire Community Health Services and to the Department of Health. We asked whether this process was lawful. We also asked whether not mentioning a parental right to opt out was a very convenient omission – and whether the process as a whole might be considered intimidatory.

Lincolnshire CHS were adamant that the process did not breach any laws on Data Protection. A spokeswoman said: "The questionnaire does not contravene the Data Protection Act." They further added that the data would only be provided in anonymised form to third parties.

However, they were not prepared to engage in discussion of how this review fitted with DPA requirements that data be "obtained fairly" and that collection be "adequate for purpose" and "not excessive". Nor have they responded on the specific issue around their right to collect data on third parties - partners of parents filling in the form.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.