Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Safe in their hands!

The personal details of 9,000 school pupils have been stolen from the home of a Barnet Council worker, see here.

Twenty unauthorised and unencrypted CDs and memory sticks were stolen. Information included: pupil's names, gender, date of birth, addresses, phone numbers, unique identification number, free school meals eligibility, in-care indicator, language, gifted and talented indicator, mode of travel to school, entry date to school, special educational needs, school, attainment data for English, maths and science at end of Year 9 and attendance rate.

Chief Executive Nick Walkley made the gnomic statement:
"This should not be a case for concern relating to safeguarding."

The data was evidently part of a student survey for the government to compare educational development within broad groups. Were the parents consulted? I doubt it. Parents were not consulted about ContactPoint and its related databases, which contain even more sensitive data. One hopes there was no data sharing.

Schools are routinely taking children's fingerprints without permission from their parents, see here.

As many as 3,500 schools take biometric data from pupils to speed up basic administration such as buying canteen lunches or borrowing library books. Dr Emmeline Taylor, who conducted a study on surveillance of pupils funded by Salford University, has revealed that 3,500 schools in the UK - one in seven - are estimated to be using fingerprint technology.

A 2007 survey by the Liberal Democrats found that out of 285 schools using fingerprint scanners, only 48 had first sought parental consent.

Children are subjected to CCTV in their schools, many have to give their thumbprint to obtain a meal or borrow a book, their personal data is collected in vast swathes and lost .... and we are expected to believe that this is for the safety of our children.

Cartoon - on the occasion of the 20th Birthday of Privacy International.

No comments: