The 'Onset' of madness


The current debate on the ever increasing presence of databases reveals a shocking and sinister truth. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the government is using technology to turn this into an Orwellian authoritarian state.

One of the most worrying aspects of these databases is that they are indiscriminate. On the National DNA database there are 500,000 innocent names listed (from a total of 4.5million). The government has taken the identity of these people and labelled them along with murders, rapists and other criminals simply in order to ‘keep tabs’ on them.

Perhaps this would not be so frightening if we knew the government could be trusted with our personal data. This, as we all know, is not the case. There are seemingly endless examples of government officials losing our data or leaving it in folders or on laptops. Worryingly I have had a letter from the government saying that my data ‘may’ have been left on a laptop in a public place – but they cannot be sure. Very reassuring.

On the whole, technology benefits society, but not in the hands of the government. ‘Onset’ is a new tool which is designed to use data to profile a child and assess whether they are likely to become a young offender. The reliability of this software is dubious and makes a mockery of our age-old right of bring ‘innocent until proven guilty’.