Customer Information System
There was an article in yesterday’s Guardian about a little known public sector system called the Customer Information System:
This week’s activation of the ContactPoint children directory has provoked an outcry among opponents of the “database state“. As does almost every announcement about the National Identity Register and NHS National Programme for IT.
However, the database that underpins current plans for transformational government, in which different agencies routinely share data about individuals, has almost no brand recognition outside Whitehall.
Step forward the Customer Information System (CIS), the central repository of basic data on some 80 million individuals, alive and dead. The CIS was conceived in the 1990s as part of an upgrade of mainframe computer systems handling national insurance and social security systems – the “customer” in question generally has no choice in the matter. The exercise involved a massive clean-up of national insurance numbers, by which individuals are indexed in the system. At the time, the main driver was to cut the politically unacceptably high level of benefit fraud.
The CIS initially went live in 2006, at a cost of £88m. It is already used by HMRC, local authorities, the DVLA and the Legal Services Commission (to check entitlement to legal aid). Under the current transformation programme, it is to become the basic population register of the entire public sector, including the Identity and Passport Service. …
(Remember that the original proposal was to have a totally new database.)
Regrettably checks have identified some LA staff are committing serious security breaches.
To be absolutely clear, and by way of reminder to all LA users accessing CIS, users should not
• access their own records or the records of friends, relatives, partners, or acquaintances
• make enquiries on behalf of colleagues in respect of their friends, relatives, partners, or acquaintances
• share their system, Government Gateway or other identity password with their colleagues
• access CIS for any unauthorised purpose
How lovely that this has to be made “absolutely clear”.