It’s nice to know that the classroom is preparing kids for the future. In one out of every seven British schools, pupils are compulsorily fingerprinted, with finger scanners being used in lunch rooms and libraries, the Telegraph reports:
The European Commission has demanded Britain justifies the widespread and routine fingerprinting of children in schools because of “significant concerns” that the policy breaks EU privacy laws.
The commissioner is also concerned that parents are not allowed legal redress after one man was told he could not challenge the compulsory fingerprinting, without his permission, of his daughter for a “unique pupil number”.
In many schools, when using the canteen or library, children, as young as four, place their thumbs on a scanner and lunch money is deducted from their account or they are registered as borrowing a book.
Research carried out by Dr Emmeline Taylor, at Salford University, found earlier this year that 3,500 schools in the UK – one in seven – are using fingerprint technology.
EU data protection rules, Brussels legislation that overrides British law, requires that the gathering of information such as biometric fingerprints, must be “proportionate” and must allow judicial challenges.
Hank Roberts, a member of the executive of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, welcomed the EU’s intervention.
“I am very pleased the European Commission is taking action. I believe the fingerprinting of children is a totally unnecessary infringement of civil liberties that could have far reaching implications,” he said. “The legal situation must be looked at. This is being done surreptitiously without parents being told.”
The commission has taken up the case of a Scottish father who has battled education authorities for several years because his daughter’s fingerprints were taken without the family’s permission.
Refused permission to take the case to court, the father was told by Information Commissioner’s Office, the British data protection watchdog, that the secondary school did not need to ask parental permission to fingerprint his child.
He was also informed that his daughter’s “consent could not be freely given” because her fingerprint scan was needed if she was to be able to get school dinner.
In May, the incoming Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition promise to “outlaw the fingerprinting of children at school without parental permission”. A government spokesman was not available yesterday to comment on the commission’s letter.