Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Building Schools for the Future bidder builds biometric technology into schools

The Sunday Heralds reports that after the palm vein scanner was trailed in a Scottish primary school last October, Amey who introduced the vein scanner, developed by Yarg Biometrics and Fujutsu, have plans to introduce this in another 11 schools for lunch lines and possible entry into schools:

"The private firm Amey is now presenting biometric systems as part of its pitch for all new school building contracts. The company was keen to assure parents in Renfrewshire, where 11 more schools are set to adopt palm readers, that the technology was safe and data could not be stolen or misused."

Vein scanning is mildly more acceptable than fingerprint scanners, as a vein print cannot be casually left at a location as a fingerprint can and so implicate you at a certain location (other than at a vein scanner). But Amey's claim that the technology is safe and data cannot be misused or stolen is a very grand claim, as these children's biometric data needs to be secure for the rest of their life time - decades... or at the very least for the life time of a child's schooling from 4-18 years old, until 2021.

How can parents, governors and pupils be consulted on this if building these biometric systems into schools are done at local government contract level? And "opt out" alternatives should be provided.

The government (BECTA) guidelines state that, "...schools should normally involve pupils and parents in their decisions to use biometric technologies as is the case with other decisions made during the school life of children ." page 7 of the "BECTA guidance on biometric technologies in schools"

- this Building Schools for the Future(BSF)/Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scenario seems to blatantly override the recent government guidelines here, unless there is a consultation process underway with parents and pupils that hasn't been reported in this case.

If their is no "involvement" with parents and pupils, there is no consequence for the companies/schools installing it. Well, hey ho, that's non legal/statutory guidance for you.

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