Thursday, June 23, 2016

Schools asking for consent to process children's biometrics

I am getting a lot of emails from concerned parents of children leaving primary school to go to secondary school with the way that the secondary schools are asking for consent to use their child's biometrics - fingerprint, fingertip data - and not offering an alternative method to access the catering, library, registration, etc, system.  In this parents are feeling that their request for consent is coerced.

Schools MUST offer an alternative to biometricsThe Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, Chapter 2, Section 27 (7) states that: 

The relevant authority must ensure that reasonable alternative means are available by which the child may do, or be subject to, anything which the child would have been able to do, or be subject to, had the child’s biometric information been processed.

Unfortunately some parents have been made to feel from schools that they are being unreasonable in not giving consent and that they are they only one objecting to biometric consent.  You are not a 'problem parent'.  You and your child have a right to not give the school biometric data - data that is absolutely unique, personal, highly precious and that needs to be secure for the child's life time.

Parents feeling isolated by a school is a story I have heard over the past 10 years so many times from so many parents - you are not alone at all.  I myself last year, when my child entered sixth form, was told by the Principal that I was the only parent objecting to them using my child's biometrics - I was not.

Quite often the supplier of the biometric system to the school will also offer alternative means of accessing the system they provide.  Examples are swipe card, PIN number and taking the names of the children at the point of sale at the till, so it shouldn't be an inconvenience for the school to offer alternative means of identification.

The new EU General Data Protection Regulations is law for every member state of the EU, including us.  It came into law 27th April 2016.  Schools are subject to this.

Point 32 states:
Consent should be given by a clear affirmative act establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject's agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her, such as by a written statement, including by electronic means, or an oral statement.

Point 42 states:
Consent should not be regarded as freely given if the data subject has no genuine or free choice or is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment.

If anyone has any concerns or questions please don't hesitate to get in touch, I'm really happy to help if I can.

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