Monday, January 28, 2008

In and out

As Iowa plan to allow biometrics back into schools after their House File 685, the child identification and protection act, was signed into law in May 2005, biometric scanners are being axed in schools in Phoenix, Arizona.

An ill informed Jeff Berger of the state Dept of Education, Iowa, states "This technology is really perfectly safe... information can't be reconverted back into an actual fingerprint", this statement is incorrect but this continual and convenient inaccuracy of truth is obviously backed up by the biometric sales industry:

"That's true", said Ali Pabrai, the chief executive officer of, a West Des Moines-based biometrics consulting company."

Their views are not shared by Fred Bellamy, a Phoenix Attorney who specializes in Technology Law or Microsoft's Identity Architect Kim Cameron - (I know who'd I'd rather believe).

Fred Bellamy went on to say that "fingerprinting children is an invasion of privacy. “Once the data are captured no matter what kind of promises the vendor may make there is a serious risk, and I think the parents have every reason to be concerned about how this data will ultimately be used.”

Espiritu Community Schools in Phoenix used biometrics technology to scan the fingerprints of students. School officials told us it was a way to keep track of school lunches so they can receive federal aid.

But this past week, in a letter sent to all parents, the district states it's stopping the use of this technology. The letter states they will “yield the use of the biometrics finger scan system”. They are replacing it with student ID cards.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"It's just like the cop shows ..." say kids - Utah, USA

Utah, USA, are using children's biometric fingerprint data for food ...“It's a minor intrusion for better parental supervision of your children’s eating habits,” said systems administrator Eric Browning.

Juan Diego Catholic High School is the first school in Utah state to have finger scanning systems, which monitor and track students' lunch accounts. (But from the school's website on Menu A they are eating: 'Taco Bar, Subs, Chicken Enchilladas' & on Menu B 'Pizza, Subs' ....!)

But a little more credit to them, than British schools, in the fact they do let parents know on their website that they have a biometric food system.

This by Gizmodo: "Here is the thing though—the parents probably have the same horrible eating habits, so it would be hard to dole out the discipline without looking like a hypocrite. Besides, if the school is so concerned about the kids' nutritional welfare, why do they continue to serve them crap food?"

Why, really? Because it's cheap...

See this for more.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


With the appalling data losses that are now happening in our UK Government with the Inland Revenue and Customs, Child Benefits and now the UK Army , to mention a few - we parents need to make ourselves aware of data attached to our children, that may go astray.

So I'm going to make a subject access request to the head teacher at my children's school so I can see what data is logged against my children on their, each, unique National Pupil Database number - perhaps (and hopefully not probably - but not holding breath) information that may get into other peoples hands...

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Generation ID: lessons in kiddyprinting"

Redpepper have this excellent article on "kiddyprinting" in schools.

"The innocuous term ‘kiddyprinting’ refers to the controversial practice of routinely fingerprinting schoolchildren. Many parents are unaware of it because they have not been asked for their explicit consent, or in many cases even notified that it is taking place."

Suffolk schools fingerprinting for food

Stowmarket High school has started using children's fingerprints for meals, not mentioned on their website, along with Kirkley High, again not mentioned on their website either.

This from the Stowmarket Headteacher Keith Penn: “I have no concerns about any infringement of civil liberties in this instance and am not concerned about this issue." - what at all?

He should be concerned as Action on Rights for Children, Liberty, Privacy International, NO2ID, parent run site Leave Them Kids Alone and a host international experts have concerns - and in the USA Electronic Frontiers Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union have concerns as well.

Well he is only a headteacher and obviously has no experience of children's rights (although maybe he should have, being in charge of a fair few hundred of them).

Maybe these heads of schools should do some research into this issue of using children's biometric data for routine activities that, supposedly helps the schools administrative function.

See Mark Crossley's blog, editor of the Suffolk Free Press on this.

Arizona to propose leglislation for schools fingerprinting children

After Espiritu community schools in Phoenix, USA, fingerprinted children without even notifying parents to allegedly shorten lunch queues parents were rightly outraged.

Parent Shirley Wallace was outraged when she found out what happened to her kids at school. "Since when does anyone have the right to fingerprint our children, especially without parents' permission?"

Fred Bellamy is a Phoenix attorney who specializes in Technology Law. He says fingerprinting children without parental consent is sending the wrong message.

"Once the data are captured," Bellamy says, "No matter what kind of promises the vendor may make, there is a serious risk. And I think the parents have every reason to be concerned about how this data will ultimately be used."

The schools, yet again, quote the old 'it's not a fingerprint but a string of numbers...' blerb.

Fingerprints can be reconstructed from number strings, see here, however as state fingerprint databases are increasingly algorithmic it does matter or not if a fingerprint is stored as the numbers stored operate in the same way a fingerprint does. It is a biometric marker of the child using the scanner.

As a consequence "Arizona State Sen. Karen Johnson and State Rep. Andy Biggs plan to propose legislation this session. The bill would require schools to get parent’s' permission before fingerprinting any child."

Good for them.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"Thumbs down" - another parent's blog

Another parent has set a blog up called "Thumbs down"

"At the end of 2007 I received a letter from my daughter’s school informing me that the school library was to be run on a biometric system.

I was appalled. This blog charts my attempt to have them reverse the policy.

I hope it is short."

So do I. My children's school seem now to be using a barcode system now instead of the biometric scanner they purchased in 2005 for library use, so good luck!