Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Okay to fingerprint kids - but teachers won't use biometrics

Unbelievable!  Headteachers moaning about gaining parental consent for processing childrens biometrics in schools when their own teachers won't use biometrics because teachers "consider giving fingerprints as an infringement of their civil liberties" ......Oh? So that's one rule for the kids and another rule for the teachers?

Headteachers have been glittered by the biometric sales industry, spent millions of pounds of our taxpayers money on biometric systems and have been glibly fingerprinting and processing our children biometrics, quite often without parents even knowing about it.  All the Freedom Bill is doing is requiring Headteachers to take responsibility for their decisions to use this technology with children.

MP Jim Shannon in the House of Commons debate on this issue on March 1st, makes the point that it is "clear that parents must and should have a complete veto on the collection and storage of their children's genetic make-up"

And the Government's take on the financial impact is that it is "likely to have some financial impact on schools (administration and provision of alternative systems), however this is balanced against the non-financial benefit of protecting the civil liberties of children in schools and colleges"

Hear, hear - and what Headteacher would want to compromise the civil liberties of children in their care?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Warning for schools using biometrics

SecEd issuing some advance warning of the future implications to schools processing childrens biometrics:

"Paula Williamson, a legal expert from The Information Law Practice, said: “In order for the consent to be valid it must be ‘fully-informed’. A school will need to give clear and comprehensive information to the parents and arguably the pupils in order for them to make fully-informed decisions about whether to give their consent.”

Parents should also be informed who the information might be shared with, for example schools may need to allow companies that run cashless catering systems to hold data, or may be compelled to share data with the police.

Also, schools cannot obtain this permission through an opt-out letter of consent, whereby parents not agreeing must actively inform the school. Letters must be opt-in.

...schools found to be in breach of these provisions face a potential fine of up to £500,000."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It seems that across the world the UK is being held up as bad practice fingerprinting our children in schools.

This from James Heiser from http://www.thenewamerican.com/

"The decision to permit the mechanisms of the national security state to intrude into the most routine aspects of the lives of children as young as four is not only degrading and absurd — it is educating impressionable youths to take for granted that the State will track their every movement, action and thought for the rest of their lives.

 Such needlessly pervasive interference in the lives of children is so scandalous that even continental European bureaucrats understand that it is wicked."

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Biometrics in Schools briefing

Over on the excellent Action on Rights for Children's (ARCH) website is a overview on the use of 'Biometrics in Schools' for the past 10 years in the UK.

A snippet from the report details the lengths biometric vendors are going to, to market biometric technologies specifically at teachers and parents:

"Some companies have engaged PR firms in order to promote their systems. Livewire PR, for example, were engaged by ‘Vericool’ to provide ‘crisis management’ for its registration system and describes its tactics as follows:

* Ensured that all news releases included implementation advice from the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) – a guideline developed in association with VeriCool -
[Interesting to know the DCSF was working with the commercial biometric industry to develope guidelines, presumably separate to the guidance issued by BECTA.  Was this ethical given that evidence suggests the DCSF failed to take advice from elsewhere?]

* Used ‘superfan schools’ to highlight the positive benefits of biometrics in education.

* Secured coverage on new school installations within the local media in a drive to educate parents about biometrics and dispel any myths surrounding fingertip technology.

* Commenced executive profiling programme for VeriCool spokespeople to educate teachers and parents about the benefits of biometrics."