The Dutch government will begin tracking every citizen 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.
The Health Ministry says the new database will begin Jan. 1, 2007.
As a privacy safeguard, no single person will be able to access someone's entire file. And each agency that contributes to the records will maintain its own files as well.
But organizations can raise "red flags" in the dossier to caution other agencies of potential problems with children, said ministry spokesman Jan Brouwer. Until now, schools and police have been unable to communicate with each other about truancy records and criminality, which are often linked.
"Child protection services will say: `Hey, there's a warning flag from the police. There's another one from school. There's another one from the doctor. Something must be going on and it's time to call the parents in for a meeting,'" Brouwer said.
Currently, all Dutch births are registered with local authorities, and children receive tax ID numbers in the mail within several weeks of birth. But their health and other records are not available in a single file.
Now each child will get a Citizens Service Number, making it easier to keep track of children with problems even when their families move.