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.


Anonymous said...

keep up the good work Pippa!
This is yet more Orwellian double speak, the sincere answer = Bo**ocks!

Anonymous said...

Our fingerprint is spread eveywhere. When we open a door or touch a glass, etc.
The argument that our children may suffer unjustified investigation by authority is paranoid, an law officer is inteligent enough to make a child touch somehting that could be latter scanned by an AFIS or collect the fingerprint left in a computer keyboard. See the famous arcticle by the japanese scientist Tsutomu Matsumoto from Yokohama National University and comments by Bruce Scheineir an American Security Expert

The use of fingerprint should be analysed as any security method from the point of view of cost/benefits for every stackholder. In poor countries where the children are fed by the government and there is fraud everywhere the benefits are enormous.
Moreover the fingerprint image may show whether the child is being forced to work in unhealthy environment by parents and relatives. A very damaged fingerprint may show that a child is manipulating pesticide or working on the agricaulture.

Pippa King said...

I take on board your points you have made in your first sentance and were aware of them - thanks.

There is no doubt that fingerprint technology, as with any "tool" can be used in the right and appropriate circumstances.

The costs/benefits of using this technology in schools has not yet been justified. Schools collectively are spending millions of pounds on this technology where money could arguably be much better spent within education.

IF finger-scanning children in the western world is justified then why are schools not gaining consent from parents for this?

As parents we have to consent for photographs to be taken of our children, school trips, children sampling different food, visits to school nurses, etc - why not fingerprinting... because enough parents would not consent for this technology to be viably used in schools.

Adults are not using this technology on a scale that children so in schools because the market does not yet exist because a proportion of us would choose NOT to use is - to the extent it would not be viable.

Yes - use it as identifiers when other means are not possible, where illiteracy exists or for security - but not without parent’s knowledge in western schools - to shave a few minutes off lunch breaks...