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Education Reporter

Big Brother Going Global!

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The building blocks for a global database are becoming more prominent as governments create national databases for education and for populations-at-large.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, children in the Netherlands will be assigned a unique Citizens Service Number that allows the Dutch government to track them "from cradle to grave in a single database, opening a personal electronic dossier for every child at birth with health and family data, and eventually adding school and police records." (Associated Press, 9-15-2005)

In 2006, a proposal was made to require England's 12 million children under 18 years to register with the government's Information Sharing (IS) Index. The IS Index will include identity data and "details of school performance, diet and even whether their parents provide a 'positive role model'." "Police, social workers, teachers and doctors will have access to the database and have powers to flag up 'concerns' where children are not meeting criteria laid down by the state," reported the Daily Mail. (6-26-2006)

A "unique student identifier" — assigned to Canada's higher education students — works with the Enhanced Student Information System and is "designed to help link incoming student records with records already on the national database," according to Statistics Canada. Data is accessible to international groups like UNESCO and the OECD.

A "national population database" is planned for Australia. According to a May 25, 2005 Australian Privacy Foundation alert, the Australian Bureau of Statistics proposed census changes using the "name and address data, and other indicators of identity, to link together records on every individual in Australia. . . . The idea is, to use the language of the ABS, to convert the Census from an anonymous 'snapshot' of Australians' lives once every five years, to a permanent 'movie' of every aspect of our lives, on an identifiable and on-going basis."

Since China's 2003 launching of the "Gold Shield Program," the government has collected details on more than 96% of its population — that's 1.25 billion of China's 1.3 billion citizens whose information is stored in a police database.

In 2002, a data system was set up in Japan and each citizen was assigned an "11-digit number in the new basic resident registry network which contains names, birth dates, gender and address and enables local authorities to identify people online across the country." (AFP, 8-24-2003)

The idea to use a nationwide ID card in the United Kingdom "for a comprehensive data-sharing scheme between government agencies and the private sector" won the government a "Lifetime Menace" award from Privacy International. (BBC News, 3-4-2002)

In Britain, an adult population register with basic personal information is being developed under the auspices of the Citizen Information Project. The register will contain the "name, address, date of birth and a unique ID reference number." (ZDNet News, 4-26-2006).

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