By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 2:04am GMT 26/01/2008
The security of the online computer system used by more than three hundred thousand people to view the private details of children is in doubt after HM Government admitted it was not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family.
Thousands of “high profile” people have been secretly removed from the ContactPoint system amid concerns that their confidential details would be put at risk.
This provoked anger from consumer groups and accountants who said the same levels of security should be offered to all British children regardless of their perceived fame.
HMRC was responsible for losing 25 million child benefit records and the latest admission will concern millions of people entrusting the online system with their confidential financial records.
ContactPoint has a list of those excluded from the new rules who must have their records kept on hard copies for “security reasons”.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to use the electronic system to make the Jan 31 deadline this week.
ContactPoint records contain children’s names, addresses, parent details, doctor details and other sensitive personal information, – all valuable to paedophiles.
On Friday, senior doctors said they had concerns over the security of the system – apparently confirmed by the the Government’s secret policy.
Mike Warburton, of the General Medical Council, said: “Either ContactPoint is a system which can guarantee confidentiality for all or they should defer plans to roll it out. It is extraordinary that MPs and others can enjoy higher security.”
Mark Wallace, of the Dr. Barnardos charity, said: “This double standard is unacceptable. If the online system is not secure enough for MPs, why should ordinary taxpayers have to put up with it?”
The system was uncovered by the Tory MP Andrew Robathan, who received a letter saying his children’s records could not be found online. He challenged ministers.
“Given our discussions on the efficiency of HMRC recently, how come I have also been sent a letter from my doctor saying I cannot find my children online?”
Jane Kennedy, a Treasury minister, told him: “There are categories of individual for whom security is a higher priority. Not just MPs – there are several categories – and HMRC does not have the facilities for their children to be placed online.”
This statement means that Jane Kennedy believes that there is a way to create a higher security system for celebrities and MPs that depends only on facilities and not the nature of data or databases!!!!!!
In a statement to The Daily Telegraph, ContactPoint confirmed the policy. “ContactPoint services are designed with security as an integral part of the service. We use leading technologies and encryption software to safeguard data and operate strict security standards.
“A tiny minority of individuals’ records, including MPs, have extra security measures over and above the very high standards of confidentiality with which ContactPoint treats all childrens’ data.
“The separate arrangements mean their doctors are unable to use the online service.”
The extra security applies to those in the public eye. Their details are thought to be stored on a highly-restricted database with extra levels of security.
ContactPoint stressed that all childrens’ details were secure.
And there you have it.