highlighting the problem of schools fingerprinting their students for several months.
The issue first came to our attention when a father in Hove approached Big Brother Watch worried about a scheme in his son's school. We tipped off the local journalist and the school then cancelled their plans. Soon after, a local politician contacted us to promote her own campaign against the use of biometric technology in schools.
This morning the issue has finally gained nationwide recognition after a debate at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference in Liverpool yesterday:
As the Independent reports:
Schools are denying pupils their civil liberties by fingerprinting them without seeking the consent of their parents, teachers warned yesterday.
Around 80 secondary schools have introduced a new method of scanning the thumbs of pupils as part of a biometric system to replace swipe cards for registration, library book borrowing and cashless catering for school meals. The use of fingerprinting comes despite fears – acknowledged by the Information Commissioners' Office – that some parents believe the practice leads to children being "treated like criminals".
There are several reasons why the fingerprinting of children should be opposed. Once this sort of data is handed over, it can never be taken back and schools are simply not equipped to hold biometric data. But our greatest fear is that these schemes are anesthetising future generations to the surveillance state; bringing up children who place little value on the integrity of their unique identifying characteristics.
It added that "any use of biometric technologies outside law enforcement" should bear in mind the perception that it stigmatised those having their fingerprints taken.