One million children's fingerprints recorded by schools

Fingerprints of one million children have been recorded by their schools, prompting criticism from a civil liberties group.

Big Brother Watch used the Freedom of Information Act to ask schools if they were using biometric technology.

It allows children to use their fingerprints for things such as taking out library books or paying for lunch without cash.

But the campaign group said a third of schools did not consult parents before taking the fingerprints of their children.

The government changed the law last year to allow parents to opt out of giving their children’s biometric data.

Does your child's school use fingerprints? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “As the new school term gets under way, now is the time for parents to check if their children are among the hundreds of thousands of pupils who are using biometric technology.

“Going to school should not mean kids are taught they have no privacy, especially at a time when we are sharing more data about ourselves than ever before.

“Fingerprinting them and tracking what they do might save some admin work but the risk is pupils think it is normal to be tracked like this all the time. Schools need to be transparent about what data is being collected and how it is used.

“Parents will be rightly concerned to hear so many schools did not seek their permission to fingerprint their children, while pupils may not have been made aware they now have a legal right to ask to use a system that doesn’t require a fingerprint to be taken.

“The Government was right to change the law but it’s up to parents to make sure the law is being followed.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said:“It is absolutely right that parents should decide how their child’s personal data is used.

"That is why we changed the law so parents now have the right to prevent schools and colleges – including independent schools - using their children’s biometric data.

“Schools and colleges must now ensure that written consent is obtained from parents before a child’s biometric data is taken and used, and must make alternative arrangements if the request is refused.”

Comments for: "One million children's fingerprints recorded by schools"

Lakeside

A slippery slope. I can understand that there may be a need to use fingerprinting where a pupil is particularly troublesome or a thief but routine use for other purposes seems to be rather sinister if parents have not consented or been consulted. I would also be very concerned that some schools could then seek to sell fingerprint or other personal data for a profit.

toomanysecrets

Coseley School do this for lunch money

Trespasser

Its not about collecting data.

This is about conditioning kids to think its ok to give things like fingerprints and possibly in the future DNA samples for storage to fight crime, access public services, and live the rest of their lives without questioning how their profiles are going to be used or accessed. The teachers are absolute morons for letting this happen and not to mention the lack of information to parents, teachers would soon be making a fuss if it affected them or they wanted shorter hours and more pay.

I know there's some of you thinking that there's no harm in this, but think again. What if some government in 10 years time decides to perform some ethnic cleansing or something similar .......... you have just helped them identify your kids.

Wake up people, this is the start of the back door policy for identity cards that will cost you your freedom bit by bit.

Glenda

A number of Sandwell schools do it as part of the Stalinist Police State Labour are taking us down, the Answer is to Finger print all the teachers and the Governors then release the data and Photo's to the press. Fairs fair

Ad_jones_83

I feel that the article is a little miss leading. The finger print or biometric technology being used in the schools for the catering or library facilities is not a full finger print. It's an computer encrypted algorithm that you would have a serious problem in trying to decrypt. I have had experience with receiving letters etc for allowing parents permission for theirs child's finger print to be recorded.

The system started to help against bulling for things like free school meals etc.

There would be no difference in the change of the system if you were to go back to using cards in schools. The same amount of data would be stored.

nerdegem

This poorly reported story only serves to heighten people's fears of this technology. Biometric scanners do not take and store a copy of a fingerprint in some database that can be taken and used forever more. They take a selection of markers or point comparisons used to differentiate between users. And if someone gets access to the database, there is no way to 'reconstruct' a finger print from the stored information, in the same way you cannot take a picture of somebodies feet and work out what their face looks like. Plus, every manufacturer of these systems uses different algorithms to take their markers so data from one system is unlikely to work with another.

Biometrics are ideal for public use scenarios like this - kids are unlikely to leave their fingers at home, unlike them having to carry money (which can be stolen, lost or spent elsewhere) or remember pin numbers or passwords. Plus, even the smartest school bullies are going to have trouble getting the picked-on kid to pay for their lunch without suspicion. Plus, it should be possible for parents to check that their kids are getting a balanced diet and are reading appropriate books in the library

Provided the stored data is kept in a properly managed way, and is deleted when it is no longer needed i.e. when the child leaves school, then I'd have no qualms about having kids enrolled with biometrics rather than sending them to school with a pocket full of change. And if data is improperly managed, then laws are in place to deal with this (the DPA for one). So take off the tin-foil hat and think a little harder.

Mrs Ivy Trellis

Many of the respondents here are absolutely correct. 'Function Creep,' between pieces of technology and databases will indeed lead to Identity Cards 'Via the Back Door!' – It really makes you wonder 'How had we used to manage?'

There is also a more sinister element of 'Conditioning.' Children will no longer 'Question' giving Identity Cards, Finger Prints, or Retina Scans, etc. In simple terms, it will be accepted without protest; and will become the norm.

Most of us are aware that the UK has more CCTV Cameras (per head of population) than any other country in the world. Smart Cameras (with automatic number plate recognition), can be used as an 'Enforcement Tool' for Moving Traffic Offences. Or, from another perspective, they generate Millions in revenue and can also be used to 'Track' vehicle journeys. Orwell's '1984' was intended to be a warning for Government! – Not a template!