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Education Privacy United Kingdom Politics

UK Switches Off £235M Child Database 198

Posted by timothy
from the after-all-they've-grown-up dept.
wdef writes "The UK's controversial ContactPoint database has actually been switched off! It's rare that we hear anything this sensible from government about an expensive, privacy-destroying, 'think of the children' solution: 'The government argued the system was disproportionate to the problem, so is looking at developing other solutions.' Perhaps the UK coalition government really is winding back Big Brother, as they had promised to do? Does seem unlikely."
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UK Switches Off £235M Child Database

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  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:19AM (#33172200) Journal

    The coalition is unpopular with a lot of Liberal Democrat voters (not sure what they'd prefer - probably for the LibDems to continue to be completely ineffectual, rather than to get at least some of their policies passed) and is in danger of a back-bench rebellion by the LibDem MPs who'd rather pander to popular opinion than get on with running the country. They need to do some things about civil liberties to keep these people on side, and cancelling existing programs is one of the few things that won't alienate Conservative back benchers, who are typically against government spending of any kind.

    So far, the coalition seems to be the best government the UK has had while I've been alive (although, to be fair, that's not exactly hard). Unfortunately, it's not clear how long it will manage to stay together.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shimbo (100005)

      The coalition is unpopular with a lot of Liberal Democrat voters (not sure what they'd prefer - probably for the LibDems to continue to be completely ineffectual, rather than to get at least some of their policies passed)

      It's most loudly objected to by natural Labour supporters, who voted Liberal Democrat where their own candidate was a no-hoper. Sure, the left of the party aren't too pleased with the coalition but it's the Labour supporters, with their massive sense of entitlement that are really annoyed.

      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:07AM (#33172340)

        If the Lib-Dems had chose to form a coalition with Labour instead, it would have been most loudly objected to by natural Conservative supporters, who voted Liberal Democrat where their own candidate was a no-hoper. Sure, the right of the party wouldn't have been too pleased with the coalition but it would have been the Tory supporters, with their massive sense of entitlement that would be really annoyed.

        Fundamentally it's a problem with the first past the post voting system, not some wide generalisation about party supporters of one side or another.

        If the promise to have a referendum on Alternative Voting is delivered upon, and the electorate are intelligent enough to vote it in, then it will solve this predicament. It will make it always advantageous to vote for the party(s) you prefer, rather than voting tactically for a different party in the hope of keeping the villain of choice out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kvezach (1199717)
          If the promise to have a referendum on Alternative Voting is delivered upon, and the electorate are intelligent enough to vote it in, then it will solve this predicament. It will make it always advantageous to vote for the party(s) you prefer, rather than voting tactically for a different party in the hope of keeping the villain of choice out.

          AV provides slightly more fair rules, but not enough. To show this most clearly, imagine there are only two parties, and one of the parties gets 50% + 1 of every s
          • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @11:02AM (#33173954) Journal

            No-one really wants AV, it won't pass, and, "we already asked the public about voting reform but they didn't want it".

            Like the US, we are now ideologically a one Party state. It's enough to make me want Soviet democracy. The guaranteed job, housing, and higher education for the willing are icing on the cake.

            • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @12:17PM (#33174454)

              You say no one wants it, but both Labour and the Liberals use it for internal leadership elections. So they acknowledge it's fairness. Labour and Cons don't want it for General Elections because it gives more of a chance to smaller parties than does FPTP.

              If it's properly explained to the electorate, they should want it, because it gives them the opportunity to better express their preferences. If it doesn't pass it'll come down to ignorance and small c conservatism.

              Of course many would prefer proportional representation to AV. But AV is a good compromise. It cuts out tactical voting, allows smaller parties more of a chance, but still delivers a decisive mandate to the winning party.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Of course many would prefer proportional representation to AV. But AV is a good compromise. It cuts out tactical voting

                Erm, no. Even assuming that people have an interest in ranking alternatives and regard a second choice as a choice at all - perhaps acceptable when you're talking about a close-knit system of high familiarities like MP leadership elections, but not for general elections - all it means is that tactics have to be more complex.

                Consider the following outcome (and please correct me if I'm misunderstanding!):

                49% vote 1st choice: A, 2nd choice: 20% B, 20% C, 9% D
                48% vote 1st choice: B, 2nd choice: A
                2% vote 1st cho

                • by kvezach (1199717) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:42PM (#33176376)
                  So party A has the most first choice votes, and party A has the most second choice votes. But party B gets in. Instead of making 49% of people completely happy and 48% slightly happy, you're making 48% completely happy and 33% slightly happy. Why are you giving the final say to the second choice of those who have voted for the least popular candidates?

                  That's because AV is not a very good single-winner method. What you want is something more like what Wikimedia uses - a Condorcet method [wikipedia.org], where each candidate is counted as beating the candidates ranked below it, and the candidate that beats every other one-on-one (like in sports) wins. Unfortunately, it's too radical (with a very few exceptions, no such method has been used for governmental elections) and so it has absolutely no chance even in situations where using a single-winner method would make sense (like electing a president or a party leader).

                  For your example, a simple count-the-winning-side Condorcet method would give:
                  A preferred to B by 49, B preferred to A by 51, B wins and gets 51 points
                  A preferred to C by 97, C preferred to A by 2, A wins and gets 97 points
                  A preferred to D by 97, D preferred to A by 1, A wins and gets 97 points

                  B preferred to C by 69, C preferred to B by 22, B wins and gets 69 points
                  B preferred to D by 70, D preferred to B by 10, B wins and gets 70 points

                  C preferred to D by 22, D preferred to C by 10, C wins and gets 22 points

                  and the outcome is: A: 194 pts, B: 190 pts, C: 22 pts, D: nil.
                  There are better systems (Wikimedia uses the Schulze method), but they are also more complex. [wikipedia.org]
          • >>>a combination of AV and party list wherein a party that gets too few constituency seats is awarded top-up seats to compensate.

            That breaks the fundamental principal of a representative being the voice of his district. If the people living in Town A vote for a Liberal, and he gets replaced by this new AV+ system by a smaller psrty (say libertarian) then he's not really representing that town's views.

      • by gilesjuk (604902)

        It seems to me the UK needs a middle ground between Labour and Tories.

        Labour build up huge bureaucratic systems, lots of money gets spending building quangos, big databases, requirements for statistics and all the management teams needed to produce the numbers. They over complicate things.

        Tories scrap it all and cut everything back to the bone.

        Labour hire, Tories fire.

        Can't we have a more rational government with an approach that is somewhere in the middle?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by the_womble (580291)

          No we cannot. The voters want:

          1) Good education, health, well equipped armed forces, good infrastructure, a policeman on every street corner state subsidies to protect jobs (especially in marginal constituencies!), etc.
          2) Low taxes
          3) The elderly looked after, good state pensions, etc.
          4) No immigration to balance out the ageing demographics
          5) Civil liberties, fair trials, an end to the surveillance society
          6) The government to monitor and stop everyone who MIGHT be a terrorist, paedophile or whatever
          7) No in

          • I see what you did there, with those odd- and even-numbered points.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by mister_dave (1613441)

            Brown didn't just use off balance sheet financing, Labour have been deficit spending since 2000. That's why every political party went into the last election promising government spending cuts to eliminate the 'structural' (permanent, not an effect of the recession) deficit.

            The quote below is from the BBC website: [bbc.co.uk]

            ...the OBR says the structural deficit - the part of the deficit that is not automatically reduced by economic growth - will widen from Labour's prediction of 7.3% of GDP in 2010-11 to 8%.

      • "If you showed some interest in LD but don't approve of the coalition, you are in fact just a New Labour supporter in disguise."

        Why have I seen this with-us-or-against-us argument from certain LD supporters so much in media and forums? Was there a memo from LD central office I missed?

        There is (was?) a swathe of left-leaning LD supporters who would naturally object to the LD/Con coalition. You may disagree with their views, but they have nothing to do with their being clandestine Blairites. Repeating the arg

        • by Shimbo (100005)

          "If you showed some interest in LD but don't approve of the coalition, you are in fact just a New Labour supporter in disguise."

          Is it strawman argument day, I missed the memo?

          There is (was?) a swathe of left-leaning LD supporters who would naturally object to the LD/Con coalition.

          I said in my earlier post - but also that it was Labour supporters making the most noise about it. Which you seem to be proving all on your own...

          • but also that it was Labour supporters making the most noise about it. Which you seem to be proving all on your own...

            You're doing it again. Did someone hack into my /. profile and attach a shoop of a Labour Party membership card or something?

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:58AM (#33172302)

      I'm not sure why you're suggesting this is a Lib Dem move. Both parties in the coalition had scrapping this database as a pre-election pledge. And the one actually actioning it is the Conservative Children's Minister.

      It's way too early to judge this government as a "the best". They've only been in power a year. That's short enough that they can take credit for doing things they promised, whilst still blaming anything wrong with the country on the previous government. Things will change. For a related example when there is another Victoria Climbié type case, this government will get the blame for it.

    • by mrphoton (1349555) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:02AM (#33172326)

      The coalition is unpopular with a lot of Liberal Democrat voters (not sure what they'd prefer - probably for the LibDems to continue to be completely ineffectual, rather than to get at least some of their policies passed) and is in danger of a back-bench rebellion by the LibDem MPs who'd rather pander to popular opinion than get on with running the country.

      Yes, correct. but I don't see the MPs doing anything about it because they all did vote to join the coalition.

      They need to do some things about civil liberties to keep these people on side, and cancelling existing programs is one of the few things that won't alienate Conservative back benchers, who are typically against government spending of any kind.

      Yes the conservatives by nature do want to cut spending. However, they are also the most 'liberal' (small l) party in parliament By this I mean they are against an Orwellian state. This is fundamentally different to the stance taken by Labour. Hence, scrapping ID cards, the introduction of the great repeals bill where they are asking the public which legislation they want scrapped, and scrapping crazy data bases.

      So far, the coalition seems to be the best government the UK has had while I've been alive (although, to be fair, that's not exactly hard). Unfortunately, it's not clear how long it will manage to stay together.

      Yes defiantly, they seem to be making sensible decisions most of the time. I think it will stay together for the full term, firstly because they are going to change the rules so that 55% of the MPs need to vote to for a dissolution. However no party can muster 55% of the votes in this parliament and secondly because Nick and Dave _believe_ they are doing the best thing for the country.

      Also is it me or since the last government left office, have the stories on slashdot about the UK been positive. With the last government the stories were all about ID cards, locking people up for 90 days with no reason, random crazy terror legislation etc.. and now it is all about our freedoms and how the goverment is going to cut up this state from 1984.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dominic (3849)

      Well, if 'the best' is selling-off the NHS, destroying the BBC, and pretty much privatising everything else, I guess you're right. They have done a few good things (such as getting rid of some of Labour's mad illiberal laws), but they mostly seem to be a force of free-market greed so far. I guess we'll see in a few years. I'm disappointed by the Lib Dems, although of course it would have been a lot worse if the Tories had got a majority.

      • by Nursie (632944) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @06:51AM (#33172606)

        How have they sold off the NHS?

        I've been hearing this from bitter labour voters since before the election and I have yet to hear about the UK scrapping the NHS in favour of the US insurance model, or any other radically right-wing policies.

        Now, it's entirely possible that I missed it, as I emigrated to australia a month or so before the election, but to me all this Tory hatred I hear is just bitterness and fear-mongering from the section of the population that relied too heavily on labour handouts in the last parliament.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dominic (3849)

          Well they are scrapping PCTs and replacing them with private companies, for one thing. It's just the thin end of the wedge. Once commissioning is in private hands, the government can shrug its shoulders to criticism and say there's nothing they can do about it.

          Even assuming the best case (that the PCT replacements are *just* as efficient, it will cost millions over the next few years just to change everything over. Not that the new companies will be more efficient, of course. For all the fuss about 'beurocr

          • They are actually proposing mutualisation/co-operatives, which is rather different. The John Lewis group has been amply demonstrating over the declining years of the banking bubble just how resilient and effective mutuals can be (strictly it's a partnership), and the organisation of PCTs should be a prime case for mutualisation. On the other hand, the PCTs have become stuffed with Labour apparatchiks and have been busily empire building. People I know in the area, both on the left and the right, are appalle
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by leathered (780018)

            I work for a PCT and it is the most inefficient and bureaucratic organisation you could possibly imagine. It's running joke that the billions that Labour poured into the NHS would have been better served if they had shovelled the cash into the hospital boilers, in that at least it would have been useful in keeping the patients warm. Even though the disbandment of PCTs puts my livelihood at risk, for the good of the nation and the public purse, they have to go.

            You are just recycling the typical Labour fearmo

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              You might want to ask your seniors which government, which ideology and which policies created the Trusts you rightly criticise. Or read this [nhshistory.net].

              Yes, they've got worse under Labour (just as they got worse during the years of Conservative rule), primarily because the Trust system was designed precisely in the knowledge that all such bureaucracies become top-heavy power-struggles.

              It was designed to pave the way for stage two of privatisation: where management is taken out of State control and where services are

          • by horza (87255)

            Deja vu. I remember Labour supporters similar to Dominic lamenting the beginning of the end of the NHS when the Conservatives won back in the 80's. The supposed destruction never happened. And Thatcher makes Cameron like a bleeding heart liberal.As for PCT, from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

            "In 2005 the [Labour] Government announced that the number of strategic health authorities and primary care trusts would be reduced, the latter by about 50%. The result is that, as of 1 October 2006, there are 152 PCTs (reduced from 303)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I have yet to hear about the UK scrapping the NHS in favour of the US insurance model

          Everything happens in stages. You need to pay [telegraph.co.uk] more attention [bbc.co.uk]. In brief: private outsourcing under the guise of choice. Fire people then re-hire them at a lower level as private contractors but at higher wage (in the short term, with no job security or concomitant organisational familiarity and loyalty). See also British Rail.

          bitterness and fear-mongering from the section of the population that relied too heavily on labour handouts in the last parliament.

          Are you seriously arguing that New Labour was the Party for the mythical Daily Hate Benefit Scrounger, possibly the least expensive source of wastage the government has to deal with?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Spad (470073)

          I don't know how all their NHS changes will work out; my cynical side says it'll fail miserably, but there's always a chance it'll be successful.

          However, they have done some things that are amazingly stupid, like cancelling the NHS-wide Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for licensing. They've gone from spending £100 million/year on licenses that allowed free use of Windows & Office and Server CALs across the 1.5 million user organisation to forcing each NHS Trust to negotiate their own agreements tha

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Smauler (915644)

      Actually, the Conservatives have been against civil liberty infringements for a while. David Davis [bbc.co.uk] resigned in protest about the 42 day detentions, for example. But, he added: "In truth, 42 days is just one - perhaps the most salient example - of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms." He listed the growth of the "database state," government "snooping" ID cards, the erosion of jury trials and other issues. It's one of the big redeeming qualities of the conse

      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:39AM (#33172432)

        David Davis was acting as a rebel against Tory policy at the time you mention, thus it's completely wrong to cite his action as representative of Conservatives.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by manicb (1633645)

        David Davis =/= The Conservative Party

        He voted against the Digital Economy Bill, which was nice of him, and rebelled over some of the anti-terrorism bills too. However, he also voted against equalising the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual acts, and doesn't have a great record on gay rights. His complete voting record [publicwhip.org.uk] is available. (Warning, page is slow and huge.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      So far, the coalition seems to be the best government the UK has had while I've been alive

      Only if you're Thatcherite and born after Thatcher was ousted. It's doing precisely what she did: blaming a previous socialist government for over-spending then implementing "austerity" measures which come down to pushing the neo-conservative agenda on Britain. 30 years ago there were wide-eyed Tories proudly announcing in the first few months of Thatcher - who was a fine orator for the easily soundbitten - how she would save the country with her laissez faire mantra.

      If the government wants to save money, i

      • by Nursie (632944) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @06:55AM (#33172616)

        It's doing precisely what she did: blaming a previous socialist government for over-spending

        Which they did, without any doubt at all

        proudly announcing in the first few months of Thatcher - who was a fine orator for the easily soundbitten - how she would save the country with her laissez faire mantra.

        Which she did, I'm sorry if your sensibilities were offended, but she unloaded some deeply unprofitable industry from the state and thus stopped the profitable sectors from being tied down with mega-taxes to support continuing, economically non-viable industry in areas like coal mining.

        And, within the first two years of government, you must divert all attention to some enemy: the Argentinians, the Russkies, the Arabs. I dread to think what Cameron will come up with.

        Sorry, WTF? After the Iraq fiasco you're saying the Tories will invent enemies!?!?!!!

        Jesus, hope it's fun living in la-la land, sounds like you've been there a while.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Which they did, without any doubt at all

          Yes, they spent too much on unnecessary war, Trident, public-private partnerships, mid-level civil service bureaucracy, a tax system to favour offshoring and making it impossible for bankers to fail. The Tories are responding by cutting back on the social welfare system and privatising the NHS.

          Which she did, I'm sorry if your sensibilities were offended, but she unloaded some deeply unprofitable industry from the state

          Like British Gas? British Telecom? British Rail? Oh, that's right, what you actually meant is that some coal mines were making a loss, but you felt the need to generalise this to nationalised British industry in gener

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Nursie (632944)

            Nationalised British industry as a whole was a complete clusterfsck. It's a good thing that the government is out of it.

            • Once again, you're remembering history with the level of technical detail printed on iPod packaging. Manufacturing in the late '70s was suffering the after-effects of the oil crisis and consequent inflation. British Steel, which breaking even through the decade up to 1974, was hit by the miners' strikes and began a programme of investment in consolidation. After 50 years without a strike, the miners had the audacity to ask for more than the 7.9% offered on £25/week (national average pay was around

              • by ultranova (717540)

                So, you're trying to reduce costs to battle spiralling inflation, at the same time telling people that you can't pay them more while the value of the money in their pocket is going down. Just how would the private sector tackle this better?

                Well, the traditional method is to hire some thugs to beat or gun down the serfs. You know, the Invisible Hand puts on knuckle irons ;)...

                • The iron was bought and her name was Thatcher. [youtube.com]

                  And so began a very successful 30 year crusade of beating freedom into the world, leading the Conservative flame of privatisation across Western Europe through tolerant Yugoslavia, striking tolerance and free market capitalism into the drunk^Wshining Western democracy that is Yeltsin^WPutin's Empire^WPresidency, celebrating the glorious OrangeBlue Revolution, then sneaking its way into the Muslim heart of secular Iraq and the incorruptible government of united A

              • by Nursie (632944)

                "British heavy industry today, OTOH... well, pretty much doesn't exist."

                I wonder if that's because it just isn't cost effective? And would be a drain on government resources had it not been ditched in the 80s? Hmmm...

                • And would be a drain on government resources had it not been ditched in the 80s? Hmmm...

                  Wonder less, study more.

                  Can Western countries afford a manufacturing base? Yes. The US still has the highest manufacturing output of any nation, including China. 40% of Germany's workforce was involved in manufacturing at reunification.

                  Did all European countries go on a mass privatisation drive in the '80s? No. Much of Western Europe socialist in favour of preserving nationalised industry and services.

                  Thatcher broke UK manufacturing. She starved nationalised industry while breaking the unions, blamed on-goi

                  • 40% of Germany's workforce was involved in manufacturing at reunification.

                    I suspect that might be due to the fact that they weren't perpetually on strike.

              • UK manufacturing (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Kupfernigk (1190345)
                Unfortunately for the thesis, UK manufacturing still exists and is not that far in GDP per head behind the US. It has declined in relative terms under New Labour. Under Thatcher it initially declined then grew; the same under Major. Under New Labour, it remained pretty static. One reason was the New Labour obsession with banking, that caused the UKP to rise well above its burgernomic equivalent. The UK is pretty competitive when the UKP is worth between 1.4 and 1.5 USD, but not when it hits 2. Blair and Bro
                • It's my fault for not specifying what figures I was considering, I guess. You can blame me for using the term "manufacturing output".

                  Proportion of the workforce in manufacturing went down very significantly under Thatcher (and thanks to Thatcher); proportion of GDP from manufacturing went down under Thatcher (although this trend began before Thatcher); proportion of GDP from manufacturing general consumer goods has gone down. Today proportion of GDP and people employed in manufacturing is in the low teens,

            • The loss of income from BT, BP, British Gas and the electricity companies is the reason why we pay so much more in tax than we used to. The overall tax burden went up under Thatcher and Major, as did inflation, unemployment and interest rates. New Labour, her acolytes, were just continuing the programme with a few sops to keep the unions on board.

          • by horza (87255)

            British Telecom was a regressive behemoth stifling innovation. Since privatization (which raised £5bn when the country was struggling) BT is still crap but at least it's self-supporting and we now have competition.

            Also, British Leyland was draining taxpayer's money and the government is well shot of that one. British Airways went from making a loss at the taxpayer's expense to being one of the world's most profitable airlines. Rolls Royce has also done ok.

            Apart from a couple of blips, British Rail bei

            • BT is still crap but at least it's self-supporting and we now have competition.

              What do you mean by BT being self-supporting? It uses subsidies to deliver services to non-profitable areas, and Ofcom is essentially its bedfellow. And there's no reason why a state service can't have competition.

              British Airways went from making a loss at the taxpayer's expense to being one of the world's most profitable airlines.

              British Airways was running inefficiently and with many loss-making routes, but was downsized to make it profitable for 4 years before it was privatised. While other airlines were struggling, the British Tory government did a fine job of creating a modern nationalised enterprise... then floated it

        • It's doing precisely what she did: blaming a previous socialist government for over-spending

          Which they did, without any doubt at all

          If they hadn't, they might have won the election - or at least been close enough to make a Lib-Lab pact feasible.

          And, within the first two years of government, you must divert all attention to some enemy: the Argentinians, the Russkies, the Arabs. I dread to think what Cameron will come up with.

          9 to 4 on it's the Belgians. And why not?

        • by Teun (17872)

          Which she did, I'm sorry if your sensibilities were offended, but she unloaded some deeply unprofitable industry from the state and thus stopped the profitable sectors from being tied down with mega-taxes to support continuing, economically non-viable industry in areas like coal mining.

          Yes she was good at lessening regulation for industry.

          Like when her government lowered the requirements on the processing of offal to cattle feed.

          What arguably became the direct cause of BSE.

      • by houghi (78078)

        blaming a previous socialist government

        Welcome to politics 101. Every government blames the previous one. And every party in the opposition will say that government is wasting money, even if it is something they themselves pushed through.
        Left, right, center. It makes no difference.

    • by RDW (41497)

      '...and is in danger of a back-bench rebellion by the LibDem MPs who'd rather pander to popular opinion than get on with running the country.'

      Or, to put it another way, 'is in danger of a back-bench rebellion by the LibDem MPs who actually remember what was in the manifesto they were elected on, which bears almost no resemblance to the set of policies they are now supporting in return for a taste of power'.

      Much has been made of the (laudable) measures taken by the Coalition to repeal some of Labour's more i

      • Yes, assuming first past the post voting remains, it's hard to see how the Con-Dems or the Tories can possibly win the election in 4 years time. The anti-Tory vote will be voting for only one party, whilst the anti-Labour vote will be split in two. And barring a new Falklands war, their honeymoon period will be over.

        • by RDW (41497)

          'Yes, assuming first past the post voting remains, it's hard to see how the Con-Dems or the Tories can possibly win the election in 4 years time.'

          Which is probably why they've set the new fixed term at 5 years :-)

          Even the Alternative Vote system that the referendum will decide on might not benefit the LibDems that much in this situation, as there'll be a reduced incentive for labour supporters to select LibDem even as their second preference. A true proportional system like STV would help them much more, bu

    • by The Mgt (221650)

      So far, the coalition seems to be the best government the UK has had while I've been alive

      The previous lot did a reasonable job of actually running the country. It was the civil liberties stuff and of course the stupid wars that were the problem. However having experienced 18 years of previous Conservative governments I'm hardly going to believe that they'd have been any improvement there. The current lot show no signs of improvement on the stupid wars and I fully expect their policies on civil liberties t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:30AM (#33172226)

    The incident that spawned this database of children:

    In spring 1999, Victoria Climbié (born 2 November 1991 in Abobo, Ivory Coast, died 25 February 2000 in St. Mary's Hospital, London) and her great aunt Marie-Thérèse Kouao arrived in London, sent by her parents for a chance of an education. A few months later, Kouao met Carl Manning on a bus which he was driving, and she and Victoria moved into his flat. It was here that she was abused, including being beaten with hammers, bike chains, and wires; being forced to sleep in a bin liner in the bath; and being tied up for periods of longer than 24 hours. Up to her death, the police, the social services of many local authorities, the NHS, the NSPCC, and local churches all had contact with her, and noted the signs of abuse. However, in what the judge in the trial following Victoria's death described as "blinding incompetence"

    - Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contactpoint [wikipedia.org]

    I can guarantee you that if this child was not physically abused, but instead had a picture taken [jonathanturley.org] of her with her clothes off (like in a bathtub [freerepublic.com]) then those guardians would have ended up being arrested immediately and the child taken into protective services.

    Because in this day and age violence is acceptable (to a degree) and excusable (for "punishment"), but nudity and sexuality are considered threatening and abusive. It is a perverted society that we live in.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mangu (126918)

      in this day and age violence is acceptable (to a degree) and excusable (for "punishment"), but nudity and sexuality are considered threatening and abusive

      It's strange how people jump to the conclusion that any exposure to sex would be so traumatic to children, without any proof at all. The simple fact is that children aren't interested in sex, for most of them sex would be one of those boring subjects that adults are so strangely interested in. There are much worse things than sex.

      In my own experience, one

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        The simple fact is that children aren't interested in sex

        Not exactly. Most research on the subject has suggested that kids are in fact curious about sex as much as anything else. They want to know where babies come from, they play "doctor", may explore other people's bodies, and generally know how to masturbate by age 7 or so. What's unusual among young kids is actually having intercourse with someone else, but a wide range of sexual behavior has been observed in kids of all ages.

        As far as nudity goes, your average kid sees their first breast between the ages of

  • I bet that a large part of the cost was due to Oracle fees.
    • What you want for a heavy analytical load is something like Teradata, not oracle. Or I guess Greenplum as it was based on PostgreSQL a long time ago, but they just got acquired by EMC

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      I bet that a large part of the cost was due to Oracle fees.

      I bet that a large part of the cost was due to backhanders.

      There, fixed your comment.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:49AM (#33172282) Journal
    A big brother society is expensive, so the Conservatives don't like it. It's an infringement on civil liberties so the Lib Dems don't like it (nor to a lot of the more socially liberal conservatives), and it was introduced by Nu-Labour so neither party likes it.

    Bizarre though it may seem, some people get into politics to improve society.
  • by jandersen (462034) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:21AM (#33172376)

    Perhaps the UK coalition government really is winding back Big Brother, as they had promised to do? Does seem unlikely

    Yeah, right. Not that Cameron and Clegg are particularly bad for the country; but the situation right now is what dictates what the government does - Labour would have done exactly the same, give or take a few details. It makes no real difference.

    But in my experience, when they talk about cutting back "big government" or "curbing the nanny state", what they mean is that they want to take power away from elected bodies who are in principle directly responsible to the people, and transfer it to some that are neither elected nor accountable. So we have less "nanny state" (ie. governmental bodies open to scrutiny under the FOIA) and more "private initiative" (ie. companies, which are not covered by the FOIA, and are governed by an impenetrable network of financial interests - who knows, perhaps they are people like Rupert Murdoch and Mohamed al Fayed, both of whom enjoy a certain notoriety in UK)

    Being a democratically minded person myself, I don't really understand those that keep repeating the mantra about "Nanny State" and "Big Government". I suspect they are either the ones that would benefit directly from no being subjected to too much scrutiny, or just very, very naive.

    • by MullerMn (526350) <andy.andrewarbon@co@uk> on Saturday August 07, 2010 @06:40AM (#33172568) Homepage
      Labour would have done exactly the same, give or take a few details. It makes no real difference.

      Er, would that be the labour government that just finished putting the database in? How does that make any sense?
      • by funkatron (912521)
        The lie I've heard from labour supporters is that the party has sides that don't actually agree with Blair style authoritarianism. When I pointed out that political parties contain people with similar views almost by definition, they claimed that all forms of tory hating are welcome in the labour party.
    • The Lib Dems are strong in local government. Labour (and Thatcherites) hated it. The Lib Dems will support anything that devolves power back to local Government, and Cameron and the Conservative modernisers seem to be less London-centric than New Labour, which basically viewed the country as London, Edinburgh, and the railway line in between. I think it's significant that the new local government Minister is from Yorkshire, possibly the most anti-London part of England. He's begun quite well by announcing t
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:23AM (#33172388)
    Big brother toys are expensive. That is our only saving grace. At some point the stuff breaks down and needs repair and consequently gets scrapped. Even if cameras are dirt cheap, the salaries of the people required to look at them are not cheap. So at some point a budget gets slashed, the toys gather dust and rust out.
  • Good riddance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Constantin (765902) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @05:50AM (#33172472)

    As I recall, this database was supposedly super secure, comprehensive, etc. and a great way to aggregate all sorts of very sensitive information in one spot so all sorts of unrelated government agencies could access it. Yup, so secure that the politicians put in a specific provision allowing the families of politicians, celebrities, etc. to opt out of it, while the rest of the public were required to participate. Allegedly an audit trail would be kept re: accesses records, records but considering the somewhat less-than-stellar performance of most governments re: privacy protection, internal auditing, etc. it's probably for the best for this system to be scrapped and for CapGemini to go home.

  • No, that's not quite how the government works in the UK. It's more like this: Labour party gets power, tries to undo what it sees as excessive cuts made by the Conservatives in previous government, and spends more than it should. Or like now, the Conservatives get into power and cut the country to oblivion, because the previous Labour government spent beyond its means.

    If you actually look at voting records, I'm quite sure you'll see that both parties are in favour of Big Brother, so don't be fooled. The tre

  • Project management exists ONLY to turn problems that are easy, into hard multi-million (or in this case nearly a billion) dollar problems.

    e.g. California's IT systems, which for decades had been existing and solved via simple easily indexed key-value databases, got supposedly "converted" to Oracle in the late 90's and early 2000's. And in the process, the state of California bought MORE ORACLE LICENSES THAN IT HAD EMPLOYEES.

  • Don't think this fiasco is over yet. The UK government has a rather poor record of securing data. It won't be long until the entire database is up on WikiLeaks.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      Given the general attitude re: wikileaks around here, I'm having a hard time telling whether you'd think wikileaks getting this would be good in "stick it to the man" kind of way or bad in "z0mg, data on all the kids in Britain is free for the taking" kind of way.

  • you got a quite different character as pm, luckily. just tally up the acts he and his govt. did up till this point and notice the trend.
  • A change of ruling party is always great, but immediately starts going downhill at an ever accelerating pace. I'd say all the promise is in the first year, when they're scrapping the crap from the previous government, installing projects they were thinking about for years while out of office and breathing new life into the stagnant, mismanaged shit hole that is the public sector.

    After this however they are out of good ideas and just making any shit up, the whole thing has become just a job, unions/middle m

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