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Fingerprint taken against wishes

(81 Posts)
Clarabel22 Wed 14-Oct-09 22:03:25

A few weeks ago the school sent out a permission slip for allowing them to take a thumb print from my son (age 6 Yr 2) for the purpose of borrowing a library book. I am aware that many people aren't bothered by this sort of thing creeping in to our schools but I am absolutely against it. Anyway, happy to let them get on with it, and just opt out, I correctly filled out the permission slip and returned it. I also, suspecting the school might be inconvenienced by our non-compliance, had a talk with my son and made him aware of what to say if the teachers asked for his print (i.e. mummy doesn't want me to have my thumbprint taken).

Tonight I found out that they did it anyway. He told them twice that I didn't want him to have it done and the TA said to him that it was ok because mummy had written a letter to say they could do it.

If anyone else finds themselves being asked to give permission for this, first read up about it on the internet so you are aware of all the arguments for and against. Secondly, if you don't want to do it, write a VERY CLEAR letter to the head or they may just go ahead and do it anyway, as they did in our case.

hotbot Fri 16-Oct-09 18:40:14

actually i really think that it is very poor for us to be giving any info like this needlessly, especially children ,on the other hand it doesn't bother dh at all - it will make for interesting discussions in our house in the future. I specifically rejected a nursery as they wanted to fingerprint parents for a thumbprint front door access.....

janeite Fri 16-Oct-09 18:46:53

Well yes, of course they should have read the slips properly and abided by your decision. However, I think many people are blowing the idea of thumb prints up out of all proportion and to call it "assault" is really paranoid and silly imho. But yes, the TA should be spoken to.

stuffitllllama Fri 16-Oct-09 19:01:00

I don't think it's assault but I think it's bang out of order.

piscesmoon Fri 16-Oct-09 19:03:31

How do you propose that he has a library book if the system needs a fingerprint? Are they supposed to have a system that everyone uses and something else for Clarabel junior? I think I would have worded the slip if your DC wants to borrow a library book please sign below. No fingerprint -no book.

WartoScreamo Fri 16-Oct-09 19:08:24

I don't really understand why you would want to refuse permission. Do you think the school is comparing their database with the local police? Fingerprints (or iris scanning) as ID is going to be the future. Many photocopiers for example have them these days. Scan your thumb - print out your stuff.....

piscesmoon Fri 16-Oct-09 19:19:37

I think that more and more places will have them-it seems a secure, easy system to me.

RustyBear Fri 16-Oct-09 19:28:15

Asuming this is the Junoir Librarian system, it doesn't actually need a fingerprint. We will be using this system when our new library is built & any child whose parents don't want them to give a fingerprint will have a card with a barcode. What usually happens then is that they feel left out because the fingerprint system is seen as cool, and most of them persuade their parents to allow it.

Clarabel22 Fri 16-Oct-09 21:58:42

The letter stated that is wasn't essential to provide a fingerprint but that it would make the system more effective. So I guess he'd have a card or something that would make the process of taking a book out a bit slower.

In response to all those who have questioned why I objected, please read my earlier explanation in the middle of page 1.

piscesmoon Fri 16-Oct-09 22:08:04

I can see that the school has made a real pig's ear of the whole thing and that you are annoyed. However I can't see why anyone is bothered about a finger print. You can't lose it-you can lose a card. If you are getting a whole class to change books it saves having to give out and collect in cards.

piscesmoon Fri 16-Oct-09 22:09:09

I wish our local library operated with a finger print-I wouldn't run the risk of not having my card with me.

ravenAK Fri 16-Oct-09 22:11:31

It's fairly harmless as a system IMO - the fingerprint generates a barcode, which the child can have anyway on a library card.

So as long as the encryption is sufficiently rigorous, my understanding is that the initial scan generates an ID number & each subsequent use of the finger scanner simply matches the number - no-one can reproduce the fingerprint from the data stored.

Equally, with the fingerprint entry nursery - honestly, all they are doing is generating an ID number. They could do it probably just as well by scanning the surface of your your bum or your cardigan, but fingerprints are a) more convenient but b) more emotive, presumably because they are associated with forensic uses.

However, there are massive concerns about the use of ID & data storage in this country, & I think the OP was entirely within her rights to object.

Whoever checked the permission slips (shouldn't BE the teacher, should be done centrally) should have flagged the OP's dc as not to have his print scanned, he should've been issued a card, job done.

I really don't think I'd be shouting assault, but I might be letting the school know that they have training issues - TAs should know this is a sensitive area & to check parental permission.

cripesalorky Fri 16-Oct-09 22:18:39

I think calling this assault is weird and unhelpful. I think that 'clever social conditioning' is reading far too much into some visiting police officers taking fingerprints on paper.

Fingerprint library systems are very useful when there are more than 2,000 students in a school who forget cards constantly.

Lots of people are sounding very us and them here. There was an oversight, which is bad, and which should be addressed, but what's with the hysteria?

ABetaDad Fri 16-Oct-09 22:19:30

By the way, don't believe the explanation of the system that says your child finger print is not stored in the system so it is safe.

Imagine a crime were commited in an area and an child finger print was found at the scene.

The police could theoretically feed the finger print they had found into a similar library scanning macine, get the digital signature of that finger print, then cross check it against the other digital signatures of fnger prints in the local school library machines. Working back up the school library databases they WOULD find the name of the child attached to that unique digital signature.

No court in the world would order the police to ignore that evidence.

edam Fri 16-Oct-09 22:26:20

Actually it is assault - touching someone when they and their parents had specifically withheld permission. The child was forced to have his fingerprint taken.

For me, the most serious aspect is that the TA told a bare-faced lie to the child, despite Clarabel's ds explaining that Mummy had objected.

I would expect abject apologies to parent and child and the destruction of the fingerprint.

RustyBear Fri 16-Oct-09 22:34:03

There's no 'finger print' to destroy - what you need to get deleted is the record in the main database which stores the biometric data. Then your DS can be re-registered with a barcode, like a normal library ticket.

ravenAK Fri 16-Oct-09 22:35:16

ABetaDad, I really don't think so.

There is a well established system of visual 'compares' used to decide whether a fingerprint is admissable in court.

Producing the same barcode when fed into a scanner is not the same thing.

Besides, it's news to me that the police actually have a right to demand the records of (all, it would have to be - else the hypothetical defence could clearly posit another child with an identical 'barcode') school libraries!

I don't know - I'm willing to be told I've missed something here, & of course it's a system that bears watching for possible future misuse as it gets more sophisticated.

But your scenario strikes me as decidedly farfetched for both technological & legal reasons, tbh.

janeite Fri 16-Oct-09 22:36:59

It hardly sounds like they held him down and forced him.

ABetaDad - I agree with Raven. It all sounds a bit hysterical to me.

edam Fri 16-Oct-09 22:43:43

They took his fingerprint against his very clear wishes and against his parents' very clear wishes. I'm guessing they haven't invented some magical method of taking fingerprints without actually touching someone.

Doesn't matter how relaxed you are about fingerprinting children, touching someone against their expressed wishes is assault. That is a fact.

This may not be the worst case of assault ever, but it is assault, nonetheless.

Probably contravenes the Data Protection Act as well - there are only specific circumstances in which people can be forced to hand over personal data to be stored against their will, and a school library system is not one of them.

ABetaDad Fri 16-Oct-09 22:50:53

ravenAK/janeite - surely they don't need a visual 'compare'? They just need to find the person on the library database who has the finger print them properly finger print then on arrest to do the proper visual compare later.

Read this story about NO2ID stealing the home secretary's fingerprint of a water glass and making a plastic foil stamp of it. The technology exists to make foils of fingerprints and that could theoretically be fed back into such a machine. It is only a matter of time.

RustyBear Fri 16-Oct-09 22:53:56

"I'm guessing they haven't invented some magical method of taking fingerprints without actually touching someone" Actually they have - the 'fingerprint' can easily be taken without touching the child, and usually is - the child puts their finger into an electronic reader, which stores the data.

edam Fri 16-Oct-09 22:57:00

Raven, what makes you think the police wouldn't be able to demand to see the records kept by school libraries? Of course they would, if it was deemed necessary in the course of an investigation.

The Met merrily trampled all over our constitution to search an MP's office and correspondence protected by parliamentary privilege because the home secretary felt embarrassed... I hardly think school libraries are going to be given more legal protection than the House of Commons!

ravenAK Fri 16-Oct-09 23:05:26

Edam, if he said 'My mum doesn't want me to have this done', then he was told that it was fine & his mother had signed a letter giving permission, whereupon he consented (whether he's competent to consent, especially since he was given duff information by someone in loco parentis & a position of trust, is a whole other ball game) - he wasn't assaulted.

Teachers are allowed to touch students against their expressed wishes for all sorts of reasons without it being assault, for that matter.

I'm not saying it doesn't stink - it does - but assault it is not. You could well be on the money on the Data Protection Act, but again, the child was not 'forced'.

ABetaDad: 'They just need to find the person on the library database who has the finger print them properly finger print then on arrest to do the proper visual compare later'

Big 'just', there. How are they going to compel every school within x miles to release its library database? & then they'd have to arrest the putative child criminal purely on that 'evidence' in order to fingerprint him/her.

It's an interesting idea & I can quite see that as a new technology it needs a beady eye keeping on it.

Usually I'm on supermarket 'Challenge under 90 year olds not accompanied by both parents' threads chuntering about ID cards by stealth, so it's instructive to find myself instinctively on the opposite side as it were.

wannaBe Fri 16-Oct-09 23:07:11

if you travel to the US you have to give a fingerprint for pretty much everything. i.e. if you go through imigration you give a fingerprint, if you go into a theme park your ticket is activated with your finger print. And it's all done electronically - no-one has to touch anyone.

ladymariner Fri 16-Oct-09 23:11:17

maybe i'm being really dim here but ....if a crime was committed and a child's fingerprint found at the scene then why not check all the fingerprints in the library??? If it catches the person who committed the crime then that is a a good thing, surely?

or is that just me?

edam Fri 16-Oct-09 23:14:09

Because leaving your fingerprint somewhere does not automatically make you the bad guy. Today I will have left my fingerprints in half a dozen places - if one of them is broken into, does that make me the thief?

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