Monday, August 27, 2007

USA installs school scanners over summer break

States in the USA have taken advantage of the summer break by installing fingerprint biometric scanner for lunches, in Ohio, Florida, West Virginia and Maryland.

Kathy Thomas, at Gilpin Manor Elementary school, said in this article some parents objections to the new system might be based on inaccurate information.

Mmm...based on her view I'd say she is the one inaccurately educated about the fingerprint systems. See these international computer expert's views on using school biometric systems.

She says, “The new system uses a student’s fingerprint to create a corresponding identification number based on certain unique points of the print,” she said. “But it’s not actually recording the fingerprint itself, and we’re not storing anyone’s fingerprints in our computers.” - Yes you are. It's a digital biometric identifier of a child's fingerprint, not noseprint, earprint or footprint - it's a fingerprint - law enforcement and governments use similiar biometric systems because it stores a "fingerprint".

This picture accompanied the article, let's see... there clearly is a computer with an image of a fingerprint on it, the print is recorded initially and a biometric identifier of the child's fingerprint is stored that is absolutely unique to that child and can be used in law i.e, Police can access school biometric databases if they wish.

Kathy Thomas then goes on to say.. "School officials, for instance, cannot provide law enforcement with a copy of a student’s fingerprint from the system because no actual prints are recorded." Wrong - I don't know about US law but certainly in the UK police are able to access a school biometric database, if they believe it will help solve a crime, without parental knowledge.

With regard to the USA, interestingly CSI NY , the tv series, (I think series 3 episode 10 entitled "Sweet 16") ran a sub-plot where a teenage girl was joyriding in a car and non of the fingerprints in the car were on the police database (AFIS). The school had a biometric database and the CSI squad ran it through the school database to check the print and found the joyrider via that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Child fingerprinted without parents knowledge

As Gloucester County Council decide whether or not to endorse the recent governments advice to schools on biometric systems one family in Gloucester finds out that their son was fingerprinted without their knowledge, for library use.

The parents are rightly furious.

Roberta Smart said: "They should certainly have asked before doing anything like this. I would have refused. Systems can also be hacked into, and identity fraud takes place often. Will our children be next?

These are youngsters and for them this is just the way things are done. That is why parents, who know it isn't, need to take a stand." Absolutely!

Certain comments on the 'this is' website have been made by people uneducated on this issue, ignorant of the potential risks with these systems - however this is encouragingly balanced with informed comments.

Ignorance is driven by this practice of schools taking children's biometrics without properly consulting parents.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ACLU voices concerns as Indiana schools use fingerprint scanners

The Herald Argos in Indiana, USA, have reported that biometric systems are to be implemented in the La Porte and New Prairie school corporations.

"Some parents were unaware of the fingerprint scan until contacted by The La Porte County Herald-Argus Tuesday. Parents at Olive have not received detailed information on the technology.

La Porte spent between $100 and $200 each for 15 scanners and pays $5,738 each year for software licensing."

Parents are concerned about the cost and ACLU have voiced their concerns regarding children surrendering their privacy at a younger and younger age. A CLU and parents across states in the USA, have helped convince schools officials in Boulder, Colo, and in Taunton, Mass. to abandon plans to use biometrics in schools.

Parents, such as Joy Robinson-Van Gilder and Patti Crossman, have been paramount in these changes of school board attitudes towards the casual biometric fingerprinting of children in schools.

"One person leading the campaign against this technology in Boulder was Joe Pezzillo, 38, a computer software developer involved with the technology.

He said that just because the finger isn’t dipped in ink and placed on paper doesn’t change the fact that it is a fingerprint.

“The fact of the matter is there is a unique identifier to identify your child whether it is stored as a number or a picture of the fingerprint,”

“You cannot change a fingerprint. It will uniquely identify the child for the rest of their life.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Gloucestershire County Council rethinking recent UK Government guidelines

Despite the UK Government recently issuing guidance for schools using biometric systems Gloucestershire County Council are deciding whether to issue their own guidance to schools in their area.

With a total of 8,400 children already fingerprinted in the Gloucestershire area, some just four years old, members of all political parties in the county council have created draft guidelines to help schools decide whether to use fingerprinting.

This article reports that Gloucestershire County Council, "...strongly recommends schools should consider the implications of the biometric data before making a decision.Liberal democrats at Gloucestershire County Council have welcomed the draft guidelines, but say they should go further.

Lib Deb leader councillor Jeremy Hilton, said:

"Using biometric technology in schools introduces a number of serious and unnecessary risks.

"Personally I would encourage schools not to introduce fingerprinting."

Jackie Hall, lead cabinet member for children and young people, will decide whether to endorse the [government] guidelines in September.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dubai to issue guidance to schools

From - "Educationists and pupils in Dubai feel that schools should not be allowed to fingerprint students even though it would make some tasks much easier in the educational institutions. Senior officials are expected to issue guidelines to install fingerprint scanners and collect biometric data from children as young as five."

The guidance is to be issued as "they were responding to a report from the UK that schools are seeking government's permission to fingerprint pupils"

Laws should determine that, not a government. Sadly our UK laws are woefully out of date where this technology is concerned and very open ended.

Schools seemingly got the go ahead here in the UK when the non-statutory guidance was issued by the government last month, via BECTA's website.

How many children?

Trying to get a figure of children with their biometric fingerprints on school databases is hard to estimate as the data on percentages varies according to statements from LEA's, manufacturers and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

But from this article Labour councillor Denise Headley uncovered 15 of Edmonton Green borough’s 92 schools using the "controversial biometric identification system".

In the same article Andy O'Brien, Managing Director of Micro Librarian Systems, states that 30% of schools use the fingerprint scanner. Is that Edmonton Green schools or just all schools? - because the figure from Edmonton Green is not 30%.

Working on 23%, which is just about in between the above figures and is also the percentage of schools using biometric databases in Suffolk from a recent FOI request, the following figures apply:

UK school population: Approx 9.5 million children.

England: 8,200,000
Wales: 494,181
Scotland: 743,561

23% of the total is 2,170,680 children.

So I think it it fair to say that over 2 million UK children have their biometric data on schools PC's. Maybe more.

I'd be very surprised if there are 2 million+ consenting parents to this.

Resources: link broken, see

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Leave Them Kids Alone statement

David Clouter of Leave Them Kids Alone has posted via the OurKingdom blog:

"School systems store fingerprint templates, the lifelong key to a person’s identity. Within 10 years these will be used to authenticate bank accounts and passports. World-renowned security experts argue that schools cannot possibly hold these securely and Microsoft identity Architect Kim Cameron has said that “It is absolutely premature to begin using conventional biometrics in schools”."

The Leave Them Kids Alone website is a great resource for parents to check out what is happening in the UK, USA or internationally regarding schools digitally fingerprinting children with or without parental consent or knowledge.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Schools 'soft targets' for ICT theives

According to this article, figures published by the Metropolitan Police (Crime in London schools 2000-2004) show the number of burglaries at schools at 7,500 for the period.

"The problem, in part, is that schools are typically ‘soft’ targets. The problem is being further compounded, with respect to burglaries, as the government’s drive to put more computers, projectors, whiteboards and general ICT technology in schools, makes them very desirable targets for thieves."

With these staggeringly high theft figures for schools, this is a point to consider if your child is going to be using a school biometric system.