No, the computer is not a personality…

Things that can make, or have in the past have made, good parents: humans, and – depending up on your level in belief in agent legend – she wolves.

Things that do not made, nor have they ever made, good parents: machines, robots and computers.

Y’see, despite the beliefs of yer man Susan/Sutler, computers aren’t people. And they’re certainly not parents.


And a database is only a tool; certainly not a damn parent.

This database is good mother, not big brother
Our details are all over the web. And a central bank of information will help vulnerable children, not harm secure ones

Alice Miles then goes on to list a few things which ContactPoint most emphatically will not help with.

As I’ve said before, child protection will still depend on one person making a call; using a computer system to make three people make a third of a call each isn’t going to do anything other than muddy the waters even more.

But I think you could take it as read that I wasn’t going to agree with her on this one. However, she does make a couple of interesting points, although maybe not in the way that she intended.

How much detail do you think someone gaining access to your online supermarket account could glean about you or your family? The rough age of your children, their favourite food, your address, when you tend to be in or out… People seem blithely to assume that the private sector is safe, yet only yesterday, about 4.5 million people who were registered with the online jobseekers’ site Monster had their personal details stolen by hackers.

Yes, and it was noticed within a day. When HMRC lost details belonging to literally half the country, none of us found out for months.

Plus, the more that people find out about the insanity than handing over information on all your habits for about 6p per shop, the better I’ll feel. I’m a fairly paranoid man, but it’s not paranoia to be concerned about Tesco or Sainsburys being able to have a picture of everything you do. And what do they give you in return for this mine of information? About 6p per till receipt. Clearly people don’t value their privacy that much…

Another point:

The public sector already holds vast amounts of data, admittedly not always securely. Think how much information a mother claiming tax credits has to give about the hours she works and even her childcare arrangements.

Yes, and then that’s left on a train, or a USB stick that turns up on eBay…

So, Ms Miles looks at exactly the same evidence as the rest of us, and draws exactly the opposite conclusion.

Which side of the argument do you think you’d come down on?

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