Monday, January 29, 2007

"Security in libraries is a big issue"... that warrants fingerprint technology?

From Hansard - Business Questions in the House of Commons, Thursday 25th January 2007:
Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD):
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of the growing concern at the increasing number of schools that are collecting data on pupils that is derived from biometrics such as fingerprinting, for use in electronic registration and library systems. He will also be aware of the fact that legal opinion, including that of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, has stated that this practice contravenes the Data Protection Act 1998. Does he agree that it is time to debate this important subject in the House?

Mr Straw: I am not aware of the practice, but obviously people have accepted it. There is a problem with ensuring people’s identity, and one of the ways of doing that is to use biometric data. Security in libraries is a big issue for younger and older people. If the hon. Gentleman really thinks that this is an important matter, he can raise it on the Adjournment.
Jack Straw's initial sentance seemed 'stumbled' when I watched on the BBC Parliament channel last Thursday as he was clearly "not aware of the practice" of taking children's biometric fingerprints, vein scans and in some cases iris scans in schools without parental consent or knowledge - and the above reply was his answer.

(Is "security in libraries" a big issue?... perhaps for the end user it is)

He quite obviously had no idea this was going on in schools (as does most of the adult population) yet his ignorance of children's compliance to give up their biometric data in a school environment didn't seem to concern him or warrant an open debate.

In Jack Straw's reply " but obviously people have accepted it" is not accurate at all. How can he say people have "obviously" accepted it when he has no knowledge of biometric technology involving children in schools at all ?

In a written statement, reported in The Register, Greg Mulholland said:

"It is precisely because of that ignorance among many MPs that I want to have a debate."

Legislation need to be monitored and updated to accomodate the expanding technology that our society has. This applies especially to children as they are the ones that will grow up and live in a technological society.

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