Thousands of North parents unaware their children have been fingerprinted at school, claims Big Brother Watch

The Northern Echo: Thousands of North parents unaware their children have been fingerprinted at school, claims Big Brother Watch Thousands of North parents unaware their children have been fingerprinted at school, claims Big Brother Watch

THE fingerprints of thousands of North-East children may have been taken by schools without their parents' consent, it has been claimed.

Based on Freedom Of Information requests sent to North-East secondary schools, the Big Brother Watch campaign group found that the technology - typically used to track access to school meals by ‘swiping’ fingerprints – was being used by 17 North-East schools and by 18,328 pupils in the region.

But the group found that only 47 per cent of the region's secondary schools had parental permission to use the technology.

Big Brother Watch is urging all parents to check whether their child is subject to biometric technology and whether their consent has been sought.

Since September 2013 it is illegal to use biometric technology on school pupils without the consent of the parents. The child can also object.

The North-East figures were part of a national survey which showed that the largest number of secondary school pupils being monitored by biometric technology was in the South-East – where 105,593 were subject to fingerprint checks on a regular basis.

Yorkshire and Humberside had 60 schools and 65,275 children subject to biometric technology while the figure for the North-East was actually the lowest in the country.

The key national findings were:

  • An estimated one in four secondary schools (807 in total) in England were using biometric technology at the start of the 2012-13 academic year.
  • An estimated 866,423 pupils were enrolled in secondary schools using biometric technology at the start of the 2012-13 academic year.
  • An estimated 31 per cent of schools did not consult parents before enrolling children into a biometric system before the law changed.

The Government changed the law from September 2013 to ensure no child was fingerprinted without parents first being asked, but the report highlights that one in three schools did not seek parental consent to use the technology before the law changed.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Parents will be rightly concerned to hear so many schools did not seek their permission to fingerprint their children, while pupils may not have been made aware they now have a legal right to ask to use a system that doesn't require a fingerprint to be taken.
"The Government was right to change the law but it’s up to parents to make sure the law is being followed."

Approaches to schools and teaching organisations for comment were not responded to.

Comments (15)

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8:25am Fri 3 Jan 14

harry2 says...

Not a bad idea they all should be, if they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about also might work as a deterant to some,
Not a bad idea they all should be, if they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about also might work as a deterant to some, harry2

10:16am Fri 3 Jan 14

jubby says...

At my children's school they need to use their fingerprint not only for cashless catering, but also to get through every door in the building (including the inside doors). The only problem with this is all the germs on the touch pad,which 700 pupils are touching throughout the day.I am told they are sticky and horrible to touch.
If a biometric system is being used then hand sanitisers should also be fitted throughout the school to prevent the spread of germs.
At my children's school they need to use their fingerprint not only for cashless catering, but also to get through every door in the building (including the inside doors). The only problem with this is all the germs on the touch pad,which 700 pupils are touching throughout the day.I am told they are sticky and horrible to touch. If a biometric system is being used then hand sanitisers should also be fitted throughout the school to prevent the spread of germs. jubby

10:22am Fri 3 Jan 14

settheworldonfire says...

I am going to put a claim in against the school...
I am going to put a claim in against the school... settheworldonfire

10:35am Fri 3 Jan 14

oliviaden6 says...

A good idea in principle BUT how safe is the data that is being gathered.
That is my only concern other wise what a first class idea.
I have always carried photo ID since the age of 15 i am now 63, never had any worries or causes for concern if there is nothing to hide you got no worries, Added to that if a child is abducted or goes missing it is a good chance of a early ID.
A good idea in principle BUT how safe is the data that is being gathered. That is my only concern other wise what a first class idea. I have always carried photo ID since the age of 15 i am now 63, never had any worries or causes for concern if there is nothing to hide you got no worries, Added to that if a child is abducted or goes missing it is a good chance of a early ID. oliviaden6

10:58am Fri 3 Jan 14

Colcat says...

harry2 wrote:
Not a bad idea they all should be, if they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about also might work as a deterant to some,
If they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about!?! I tell you what, why don't the government put video cameras in every house in the land to monitor for terrorists? After all, if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about! It's misplaced "logic" like this that allows the state (and private companies) to erode our civil liberties in small steps with the consent of people who justify it in this way, then we suddenly realise that we can't take a car journey without our movements being registered and number plates stored each time we drive passed one of those green or blue cameras you see on bridges over dual carriageways, and that you can't walk in any town without being filmed by the powers that be, justifying it by saying if you do nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about.
[quote][p][bold]harry2[/bold] wrote: Not a bad idea they all should be, if they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about also might work as a deterant to some,[/p][/quote]If they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about!?! I tell you what, why don't the government put video cameras in every house in the land to monitor for terrorists? After all, if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about! It's misplaced "logic" like this that allows the state (and private companies) to erode our civil liberties in small steps with the consent of people who justify it in this way, then we suddenly realise that we can't take a car journey without our movements being registered and number plates stored each time we drive passed one of those green or blue cameras you see on bridges over dual carriageways, and that you can't walk in any town without being filmed by the powers that be, justifying it by saying if you do nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about. Colcat

11:22am Fri 3 Jan 14

pandorica says...

I think some of this story is fabricated to say the least. As a parent of a child who has had this done, official documentation and a consent form were sent out well in advance. These had to be signed for before the children had their fingerprints taken. In essence its a great idea. You are able to pay for school meals, trips, books etc online, the balance is added to your childs account, all of which you can monitor. The children then are safe in the knowledge they are not going to lose their dinner money, and the parents are happy to know it will not be spent on rubbish, and that we can check to see what they have eaten. At the beginning of every academic year, the forms are sent back out for consent. So I am a little baffled that parents are unaware. My guess is the parents have not read or signed the forms. This latest form I have just signed clearly stipulated if consent was not given, fingerprint would not be done, or those who previously had theirs done would have it removed.
I think some of this story is fabricated to say the least. As a parent of a child who has had this done, official documentation and a consent form were sent out well in advance. These had to be signed for before the children had their fingerprints taken. In essence its a great idea. You are able to pay for school meals, trips, books etc online, the balance is added to your childs account, all of which you can monitor. The children then are safe in the knowledge they are not going to lose their dinner money, and the parents are happy to know it will not be spent on rubbish, and that we can check to see what they have eaten. At the beginning of every academic year, the forms are sent back out for consent. So I am a little baffled that parents are unaware. My guess is the parents have not read or signed the forms. This latest form I have just signed clearly stipulated if consent was not given, fingerprint would not be done, or those who previously had theirs done would have it removed. pandorica

11:23am Fri 3 Jan 14

thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth says...

We simply cannot trust others with our private/personal information, as has been proved time and time again.
We simply cannot trust others with our private/personal information, as has been proved time and time again. thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth

12:12pm Fri 3 Jan 14

Colcat says...

@pandorica - an honest question here for you: how many other schools do you have direct experience of with regard to this fingerprint taking scheme? Avoid anecdotes (my friend said her brother's child's school does X, Y and Z) and just explain your direct experience with other schools, please.
@pandorica - an honest question here for you: how many other schools do you have direct experience of with regard to this fingerprint taking scheme? Avoid anecdotes (my friend said her brother's child's school does X, Y and Z) and just explain your direct experience with other schools, please. Colcat

1:51pm Fri 3 Jan 14

Durhamite1979 says...

It's the arrogance of the schools for them to think that they can do this without asking for consent - at what age would you be happy for this to happen? 12? 6? What about everything else they can gather from it? Information on what your kid eats every day? Would you be happy with that being sold to catering companies or supermarkets so your kid can be targeted? I'm for ID cards of some variety and other things that can reduce crime / theft, but there needs to be some proportionality and control over what the information can be used for. My experience with a kid in a primary school is that I wouldn't let some of them take the dog for a cr@p never mind look after something potentially sensitive...
It's the arrogance of the schools for them to think that they can do this without asking for consent - at what age would you be happy for this to happen? 12? 6? What about everything else they can gather from it? Information on what your kid eats every day? Would you be happy with that being sold to catering companies or supermarkets so your kid can be targeted? I'm for ID cards of some variety and other things that can reduce crime / theft, but there needs to be some proportionality and control over what the information can be used for. My experience with a kid in a primary school is that I wouldn't let some of them take the dog for a cr@p never mind look after something potentially sensitive... Durhamite1979

5:53pm Fri 3 Jan 14

S208 says...

jubby wrote:
At my children's school they need to use their fingerprint not only for cashless catering, but also to get through every door in the building (including the inside doors). The only problem with this is all the germs on the touch pad,which 700 pupils are touching throughout the day.I am told they are sticky and horrible to touch.
If a biometric system is being used then hand sanitisers should also be fitted throughout the school to prevent the spread of germs.
Oh good grief, get a grip.

There will be the same number of germs on the door handles, the bog flush handles, the desks... If you want to protect your miserable kid from germs, teach them not to put their grotty fingers in their mouths after they've had their hands down pants up noses and whatever else it is they do.

And after that, go and read the label on a bottle of hand sanitiser. Many say NOT to allow kids to use it in case they ingest the contents. Do you think a few germs from a fingerprint scanner (which will toughen their immune system) is any worse for them than consuming some of the junk in hand cleaner?
[quote][p][bold]jubby[/bold] wrote: At my children's school they need to use their fingerprint not only for cashless catering, but also to get through every door in the building (including the inside doors). The only problem with this is all the germs on the touch pad,which 700 pupils are touching throughout the day.I am told they are sticky and horrible to touch. If a biometric system is being used then hand sanitisers should also be fitted throughout the school to prevent the spread of germs.[/p][/quote]Oh good grief, get a grip. There will be the same number of germs on the door handles, the bog flush handles, the desks... If you want to protect your miserable kid from germs, teach them not to put their grotty fingers in their mouths after they've had their hands down pants up noses and whatever else it is they do. And after that, go and read the label on a bottle of hand sanitiser. Many say NOT to allow kids to use it in case they ingest the contents. Do you think a few germs from a fingerprint scanner (which will toughen their immune system) is any worse for them than consuming some of the junk in hand cleaner? S208

6:08pm Fri 3 Jan 14

S208 says...

oliviaden6 wrote:
A good idea in principle BUT how safe is the data that is being gathered.
That is my only concern other wise what a first class idea.
I have always carried photo ID since the age of 15 i am now 63, never had any worries or causes for concern if there is nothing to hide you got no worries, Added to that if a child is abducted or goes missing it is a good chance of a early ID.
Good for you.

What an exciting life you must've lead having NOTHING at all to hide.

I on the other hand DO have stuff I don't want the world knowing, so if it's all the same with you, take your "nothing to hide" and stick it.

And on your first point re: how safe is the data, I can guarantee you not much. The majority of machines in NE schools aren't secure, and programs like Junior Librarian (a common one that uses fingerprint scanning) will sit on a machine in the Library, just awaiting the day a thief puts the window through and makes off with it. If you're under ANY illusion that all the data in schools is secure, you're deluded.
[quote][p][bold]oliviaden6[/bold] wrote: A good idea in principle BUT how safe is the data that is being gathered. That is my only concern other wise what a first class idea. I have always carried photo ID since the age of 15 i am now 63, never had any worries or causes for concern if there is nothing to hide you got no worries, Added to that if a child is abducted or goes missing it is a good chance of a early ID.[/p][/quote]Good for you. What an exciting life you must've lead having NOTHING at all to hide. I on the other hand DO have stuff I don't want the world knowing, so if it's all the same with you, take your "nothing to hide" and stick it. And on your first point re: how safe is the data, I can guarantee you not much. The majority of machines in NE schools aren't secure, and programs like Junior Librarian (a common one that uses fingerprint scanning) will sit on a machine in the Library, just awaiting the day a thief puts the window through and makes off with it. If you're under ANY illusion that all the data in schools is secure, you're deluded. S208

9:35pm Fri 3 Jan 14

CLEVELANDPC says...

harry2 wrote:
Not a bad idea they all should be, if they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about also might work as a deterant to some,
I disagree, as with everything it is open to abuse and error those wanting to do wrong will manipulate it anyway and apart from that I didn't know children could give informed consent on anything like this ? Surely it's another bit of our civil liberty slipping away ?
[quote][p][bold]harry2[/bold] wrote: Not a bad idea they all should be, if they do nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about also might work as a deterant to some,[/p][/quote]I disagree, as with everything it is open to abuse and error those wanting to do wrong will manipulate it anyway and apart from that I didn't know children could give informed consent on anything like this ? Surely it's another bit of our civil liberty slipping away ? CLEVELANDPC

8:38am Sat 4 Jan 14

pandorica says...

I am speaking purely from experience from my sons school. I think like everything else it gets blown out of proportion, when it should be taken for what it is. Its not the Police taking the fingerprints, its the school, ensuring all children are treat the same, stops bullying and children having money pinched. it is exactly what it is, its nothing to do with doing nothing wrong. It is what it is. And another thing, in my sons school the documentation was posted out to the parents. So if they have not signed the forms then the fingerprints should not be taken. If it has still been done without consent of the parent, who is to say the child itself has not agreed to it? With everything in life you will always find opposing opinions. All I am saying is it works well from my personal experience, my son seems happy with it and does not have any complaints.
I am speaking purely from experience from my sons school. I think like everything else it gets blown out of proportion, when it should be taken for what it is. Its not the Police taking the fingerprints, its the school, ensuring all children are treat the same, stops bullying and children having money pinched. it is exactly what it is, its nothing to do with doing nothing wrong. It is what it is. And another thing, in my sons school the documentation was posted out to the parents. So if they have not signed the forms then the fingerprints should not be taken. If it has still been done without consent of the parent, who is to say the child itself has not agreed to it? With everything in life you will always find opposing opinions. All I am saying is it works well from my personal experience, my son seems happy with it and does not have any complaints. pandorica

8:44am Sat 4 Jan 14

Jackaranda says...

Colcat wrote:
@pandorica - an honest question here for you: how many other schools do you have direct experience of with regard to this fingerprint taking scheme? Avoid anecdotes (my friend said her brother's child's school does X, Y and Z) and just explain your direct experience with other schools, please.
People do have a right to their own opinions, they don't have to 'explain' them to you!!
[quote][p][bold]Colcat[/bold] wrote: @pandorica - an honest question here for you: how many other schools do you have direct experience of with regard to this fingerprint taking scheme? Avoid anecdotes (my friend said her brother's child's school does X, Y and Z) and just explain your direct experience with other schools, please.[/p][/quote]People do have a right to their own opinions, they don't have to 'explain' them to you!! Jackaranda

6:00pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Colcat says...

People do indeed have a right to their own opinions, but if they are expressing them on a public forum then it is essentially asking to be challenged. If I were to say that since my child has nice school meals at one school, therefore all school meals at all schools must also be nice, and any article written that says otherwise is described as "I think some of this story is fabricated to say the least" is fallacious to say the least, and certainly worthy of asking for justification at the very least.
People do indeed have a right to their own opinions, but if they are expressing them on a public forum then it is essentially asking to be challenged. If I were to say that since my child has nice school meals at one school, therefore all school meals at all schools must also be nice, and any article written that says otherwise is described as "I think some of this story is fabricated to say the least" is fallacious to say the least, and certainly worthy of asking for justification at the very least. Colcat

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