Friday, February 25, 2011

Chichester High School for Girls - Why?

Schools are still not communicating too well with parents, as headlines only this month portray - "Anger over school’s bid to fingerprint its pupils" at Chichester High School for Girls where they are assuming consent unless parents inform them otherwise.

Regardless of whether Chichester High School for Girls obtain consent now, they will have to try and collect 1463 (no of pupils) x 2 (parents) = 2926 signatures to continue using it during 2012.

Why would they buy such a system when swipe cards/pin numbers will be far less burdensome for them?

The logical long term implication is that the school potentially scraps biometrics and opts for an easier administrative system or the school uses it resources to collect and monitor signatures related to childrens biometrics they process - either way, what a waste of taxpayers money!

ATL union wecomes the Freedom Bill

The teaching union ATL, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, welcome the provision for biometrics in schools in the Freedom Bill.

Ken McAdam, lead member adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:  "ATL has been alarmed at the increasing number of schools that are fingerprinting their pupils, so we are pleased that schools and colleges will have to obtain parental consent before fingerprinting pupils."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gov does Impact Assessment on parental consent for processing childrens biometrics

Over on the Home Office's website is an Impact Assessment entitled:
"Requirement for schools to seek written parental consent before processing children's biometric data". 

It is good to see a document coming from government raising concerns and offering solutions to the controversial subject of processing children's biometrics without parents consent.

It is, in fact, it is the only document that has ever been issued by our government concerning biometrics in schools, in the 10 years the technology has been in used by children.

The previous 'advice' issued by the now defunct quango Becta was issued without any consultancy, knowledge or research into the subject of biometrics whatsoever, legal, academic or otherwise, etc.  This fact came to light in a Freedom of Information request.  

In contrast the above Home Office document outlines many aspects to be considered when using childrens biometrics without their parents consent.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Freedom Bill 2010-11

The Protection of Freedoms Bill was introduced in the House of Commons this morning and part of the BIll, Part 1 (Chapter 2) includes provisions to protect the biometric data of children in schools and colleges.

The Bill outlines the "Requirement for consent before processing biometric information" of children up to 18 years old.

A law pertaining to children using biometrics has been a long time coming and the whole Bill, including the regulation of biometric technologies and children, needs to be got right.  It will be an interesting few months ahead.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Millions being spent on biometric systems

I love Google! Type in "biometric cashless catering contracts" and on the first results page alone we have over £4.5 million pounds spent by two Local Authorities on schools biometric systems, as recently dated as December 2010.

Staffordshire Council have a 24 month contract worth £4 million of our tax payers money to dish out to the lucky winner and Warrington Borough Council are tendering for £259,500, quite paltry in light of Staffordshire's school biometric budget.

I wonder if anyone has told these Councils or schools about the forthcoming legislation that means parental consent will be compulsory in order to use a childs biometric detail... why not put an added job, the school has to do, into the equation? - that makes sense!