Up to 5.9 million children face having their fingerprints taken by schools in another move towards a 'Big Brother' society.Pupils will have to hand over their biometric details simply to borrow library books or gain access to school dinners.
Critics say it is part of a 'softening-up' exercise to condition children to accept a creeping surveillance society. They also point to the danger of identity theft, if hackers manage to access the school databases. Phil Booth, of the NO2ID campaign, said, "This is an abrogation of moral duty. Schools should be teaching children to look after their biometric information. They are going to grow up in a world where keeping it secure is enormously important, yet they are being taught that it is OK to hand it over for the most trivial of matters. It is a disgrace."
Schools that use fingerprint systems say that the children think it is cool! I would agree. How cool would it be to check out a book just by using your thumb! Perhaps I am being very naive, but I am surprised how much of a fuss this seems to have caused.
Damian Green, Tory frontbencher, said, "Schools use fingerprints as security for libraries, and sometimes to allow access to canteens. If parents have given permission, this is acceptable, but only on strict conditions that every school should follow." The conditions he suggests are:
- No fingerprinting of children without prior parental consent;
- Coding of information so that no child can be identified from the school database;
- information should be used only for purposes specified by the school in advance;
- All data to be detroyed when the child leaves the school.
These conditions make sense to me.