Friday, 31 July 2009

Fingerprint Fiveways and the database school

Fingerprint Fiveways has set up the facebook site -No Biometric Fingerprints Please. He/she and some schoolfriends at King Edward VIth grammar school, Fiveways, Birmingham are protesting about being made to use scan their thumbprints in order to get into school buildings and pay for meals.

Fingerprint Fiveways quotes Brian Drury an IT security consultant: "if a child has never touched a fingerprint scanner, there is zero probability of being incorrectly investigated for a crime. Once a child has touched a scanner they will be at the mercy of the matching algorithm for the rest of their lives."

Compare this to Andy Park, headmaster of Chorlton High school, Manchester, who has set up such a fingerprint scanning scheme. He says, with breathtaking technical ignorance: "The fingerprint itself is not stored. The information is turned into an electronic code, which is stored against information we already have, such as name, form, year group and a picture.” See here.

Hello! Is this not a database and how else are fingerprint templates stored? I hope he doesn't teach IT or logic! In addition there are also international standards to ensure that such systems are compatible; most of this data will be connected to the internet; the police have the right to get into any database, private or public and already police are collecting DNA from young people they suspect may become criminals, see here.

This is happening in thousands of schools, in addition to: CCTV in classrooms and even toilets, facial recognition technology and of course the ContactPoint database. Anyone looking at the ContactPoint database of 11 million English children will know immediately whether a child has been in contact with the police.(How easy just to check those prints against the police database.)

Our children are being softened up to accept as totally normal the use of fingerprints and other biometrics to identify themselves; the idea of cameras to 'keep them safe' and the right of the state and its officials to gather, keep and use every tiny detail of private information about them and use it to help, monitor, advise, keep secure and inform other state agencies if ever they stray from the 'true path.' It's just that no-one ever asked them.

Fingerprinting our children is dangerous and unnecessary yet evidently this is totally legal, conforms to data protection legislation and there is nothing explicit in the DPA to require schools to seek consent from parents before implementing a fingerprinting application.

If this is such a good idea then surely such a system should be used in the Houses of Parliament to keep the politicians who have created the database and surveillance state totally secure?

I think however the honourable ladies, gentlemen and Peers would be insulted. Well so are Fingerprint Fiveways and friends.

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