Saturday, September 29, 2018

Scottish schools Freedom of Information results so far...

This is an update on the Freedom of Information requests (FOIR) sent to all 32 Scottish local authorities in August to determine the use of biometrics in schools there.  This is with a view to extending the same rights that English and Welsh children have not to have their biometrics collected and processed in schools, with an entitlement to use an alternative way of accessing school services such a a PIN or swipe card.

Some interesting results have turned up in the two thirds of FOIRs that have been received back so far.  There seems to be two companies supplying the Scottish market with one most dominant.  The company that is most dominant also introduced the biometric fingerprint scanners in schools as early as 1999 and 2000.

This is a surprise to me as I was under the impression that schools in the UK started the introduction of fingerprint scanners for libraries in 2001when the below communications with a school biometric supplier, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), who oversees the Data Protection Act, and Department for Education (DfE) took place.  See bottom of this post.  So it would be interesting to see if the ICO and DfE knew about the earlier use of children using their biometrics and see any correspondence on that.

With the results from the FOIR so far it seems that currently around 5% of children in Scotland use their biometrics to access school systems, although I still have a third of the authorities yet to reply.  Even so this amounts to 35,000 plus children and that is only a snapshot of current usage.  Given that some authorities have been using biometrics in schools for nearly two decades, this significantly raises the amounts of children that have had their biometrics logged at schools in Scotland to the many tens of thousands, if not over the hundred thousand mark.  The current Scottish school population is just over 687,000 children.

When all of the Scottish authorities have responded I will post more here.

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