To: Government, Local Education authorities

Stop fingerprinting our children in school

Some estimates suggest that as many as 30% of all schools in the UK have fingerprinting technology. This means that millions of children are having their fingerprints taken and retained. This massive expansion of the collection of highly personal data has been allowed to take place without parliamentary scrutiny or public debate or without the consent of Parents.

This should be stopped immediately or at the very least give parents and pupils the option to opt out of this biometric system without any prejudice

Why is this important?

Information Commissioner's Office (the office that oversees compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), has published guidance on this issue and advises that even though there is no lawful requirement on a school to obtain parental consent for fingerprinting children, the school "must" involve the parents to ensure that information is obtained fairly, unless the school can be certain that the child understands the implications of giving up his/her prints.

This is outrageous how can a child understand the implications of giving up their prints? They would see it as some sort of futuristic game! I do not share the same enthusiasm, concerns is that it plays on these ideas and gets children accustomed to giving up their highly personal biometric data as a matter of routine. If children at primary school age are taught that it is normal to hand fingerprints or other personal data to their school or local authority, how alarmed are they going to be if and when, as adults, a future government tries to reintroduce the idea of ID cards, for example, or to argue that there should be universal DNA retention?

How schools are ensuring that children are giving informed consent is very hard to determine and practice seems to vary widely. The ability of a seven-year-old to give consent is going to be very different from that of a 17-year-old.

Surprisingly, the law does not require that consent be obtained from the parents of a child, although good practice and guidance has recommended that it be obtained in advance. We are aware of many cases where this has not happened, though, and parents are only informed after the event.

United Kingdom

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2016-04-30 00:18:02 +0100

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