Thursday, December 20, 2007

School trips...?

Apparently "Fingerprinting helps pupils to be healthy eaters" states the "This is Cheshire" website. The school is so chuffed with the technology that they are "now looking at ways of using the fingertip system for other purposes for example school trips."

Education helps children to be healthy eaters. Taking fizzy drinks and chips off the menu helps children to be healthy eaters. These systems can cost up to £20,000+. Could this amount of money be used in school to improve education of healthy eating habits?

There is no mention of fingerprint, biometric, scanner or even cashless on Sandbach school's website. Taking childrens biometric data from them, I would have thought, warrents a mention at least.

But the idea of incorporating fingerprint scanners into a school trip(!) seems to be a biometric overkill of technology for technologies sake.

Given the appalling track record government establishments have on data protection, just salient data should be held by schools - not children's biometric data, which is non essential for a child's education.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Biometric industry see BECTA's guidance as a "green light"

Apparently industry welcomes "the findings of BECTA’s new report entitled Guidance on Biometrics in Schools , which highlighted the positive role biometric technology can play in reducing bullying, theft, truancy and costs in schools."

Really? Reducing bullying, theft and costs? There is no evidence to support this in the public domain.

One biometric vendor states BECTA’s report effectively provides the green light to continue the roll out of Biometric solutions in schools. The report makes a clear statement that fingerprints cannot be recreated from the string of numbers stored in the database..."

So whilst parents, human rights groups and concerned Members of Parliament are not happy about the BECTA guidance the industry have taken it as a "green light". The parent consultation touched on in the document is simply NOT happening and the notion that BECTA, the DCSF (DfES) and Labour Education Dept hold on to that fingerprints cannot be reconstructed is simply incorrect.

What are we actually paying these people for?

A simple Google of "reconstructing fingerprints" bring up papers that have been written on this or blogs (moi, listed no.3!) that can point civil servants and politicians in the general direction on this subject. It's not rocket science.

It is apparent that there is a concerning lack of research in BECTA's "guidance" which appears to have unsubstantiated claims and inaccurate statements in. Is it right for this to be the basis of an industry that is able to legally take biometric data from children as young a 4 without consulting parents?

The people that this report should have advantaged - our children in schools.

The people this reports advantages - biometric companies supplying to schools.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

UK world famous for sneakily fingerprinting chlidren in schools

It's nice to know that here in the UK we are world famous for something - schools fingerprinting children without parents knowledge.

The US and now Australia are hot on our heels though, but with only 2 companies here in the UK in 2005, to over 20 companies now selling biometric systems to schools (bought by our taxes) for food, books, registration, access, cash registers, vending machines - that's some growth in the market.

This is not about the security of pupils dinner money and stolen library books. It is simply about hard cash and profit for the biometric market by fingerprinting children in school as young as 4 without parents even being aware. Adults in the UK do not use biometric systems on the scale that it is used in schools.

The Dubai XPress has this article.

"The so-called "child-tracking" scheme has been lamented by parents who argue that school authorities should take prior permission and an "acceptance note" to fingerprint their child because the data collected from children under the age of 12 without parental consent contravenes the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Labour Government, who wants to go ahead with a national ID plan also faces a backlash from nearly 85 members of parliament who differ on this monitoring practice. Though the government rests its case on defending the method with the sole purpose of social security and thwarting child abuse, civil liberties groups call it an act of violation of privacy."