Friday, May 18, 2007

Local councils take matters into their own hands

Concerns over fingerprinting children in schools for library, canteen and food purposes have prompted Gloucestershire County Council to start forming a policy around the use of biometrics in the county. Andrew Clymer has been discussing the issue of biometric databases in schools with the council:

"Investing time and effort in understanding the implications of biometrics does not need to be done by every school, it needs to be done centrally were money can be spent employing the experts from both sides of the argument to present a balanced and informed view, that will further enable the decision makers to make an efficient and informed decision. This information needs to be made available in a prominent place, and not buried on some government web site." of yet, no advice is on any government site - so I will join Andy in congratulating councils who move ahead in this direction in the absence of any advice given by government, DfES, the ICO and BECTA.

At Hull City Council, council leaders are also currently looking at issuing fact based, non bias advice to schools considering, or using, biometric technology.

Advice given to schools in Ireland by their Data Commissioner is detailed and comprehensive, recommending that schools carry out a Privacy Impact Assessment with 38 points to consider before purchase of biometric systems.

Although not statutory it does recommend schools do a Privacy Impact Assessment to minimise the risk of future legal actions for damages by students.