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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.

Worley Tue 20-Nov-12 18:47:20

ds1 had his fingertips done for their register and canteen whislt he was in yr 7, ready for when he started the new school going in to yr 8. he's now in yr 9 and they want the whole school done again as they lost them all. I havnt signed the slip to let them do it again. they can just find them all... and they still don't have the system set up anyway.. so taking his prints when he was still in yr 7 was useless..

DeepnGreen Mon 19-Nov-12 22:27:54

About 30% of schools are using this technology. It has many administrative advangates for the school.
A couple of days before DD1 started at grammar school I had a chat with her: "If they ask for your fingerprints, tell them no. If they ask why not, tell them to phone your Daddy." Sure enough, first day at school, I got a phone call "Your daughter says you want some more information about the Vericool system. I replied "I don't need any information, I just don't want you to take my child's fingerprints." The class teacher said it wasn't the whole fingerprint, just the fingertip. I said I didn't care and I didn't want her to take them. She said she would get someone who knew more about the system to phone me back. I phoned No2ID.
When the Dep Head phoned back we were both very polite (first day at new school etc) and she explained that no fingerprint would mean no ability to use the canteen. I replied that under the PROTECTION OF FREEDOMS ACT 2012 (Chapter 2) parents and/or children can refuse to allow the school to record and use biometric data and, what's more, wherever a school uses biometric data (inc fingertips) to deliver a service there has to be an alternative delivery method for those who opt out. I said that for the first couple of weeks I would send DD1 in with packed lunch, but suggested the Dep Head ask the peddlers of Vericool about the law and the alternatives. Surely I couldn't be the 1st person in the County to ask the question? (Surely...).
What made me laugh was the Dep Head asked if I why I hadn't had the same conversation about my other daughter. I replied that my other daughter isn't at the same school. 'Oh' she said, 'We have a child in Year 9 with the same surname and assumed they were sisters'. Now that's what I call secure data protection/data management!

I followed up the conversation with a polite but firm letter saying that the school had better make sure they hadn't got my child's biometric data.

The school confirmed that there is no biometric data on any system. They have also provided an alternative means for DD1 to use the canteen. It is very high tech. When she arrives at the till she tells the dinner lady her name and the dinner lady writes the transaction down in a book. Simples.

At another local school I've heard that each time student has tried to sign in to the fingermachine it pops up with the name of someone with a similar fingertip. Brilliant.

hippipotamiHasLost72lbs Thu 22-Oct-09 16:38:02

I too am horrified at the way you are all blaming the TA.
I am a TA. Trust me, we would not even get to see the permission slips. We would be told 'Take class X to be fingerprinted'. Permission slips are dealt with by the office and then the teacher. So if the order came from a teacher then it is not the TA's job to double check. We generally have to accept what the teacher tells us and therefore I would have assumed the slips had been checked and the teacher was on the case.

If Mini Clarabel told the TA he did not want his fingerprint taken the TA would probably have assumed he was scared / reluctant and reassured him with 'It's ok, mummy signed a permission slip'.
If Mini Clarable told the TA he did not want his fingerprint taken because mummy did not want him to, then yes, the TA should have double checked the permission slips with the teacher / office.

But as it stands, it seems the TA carried out a teacher's instructions and got it wrong. I see no evidence of her lying. Unless she is really a secret government agent ordered to obtain the nations's youngster's fingerprints at all costs hmm

hocuspontas Thu 22-Oct-09 16:20:40

I'm spluttering at the abuse aimed at the TA. How do you know the TA was in charge? They could all have been standing waiting with the teacher, fingerprinter, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, and it just happened to be the TA who the OP's son addressed his comment to. Why would the TA have to be the one to check? Maybe she did check with the teacher who said permission had been given. Why would she even see the slips? It's so easy to kick the 'unqualified' hmm one at the bottom of the chain. TAs assist the teacher and most certainly wouldn't 'lie' about permission slips.

As an aside, dd3's junior school did the fingerprinting for the library system. We weren't asked but I felt at the time we should have been.

eclectech Thu 22-Oct-09 00:15:36

I would be fuming, and you're unfortunately not alone. Schools aren't set-up to protect data to the extent needed (why should they be?). Fingerprints are critical, irreplaceable personal information.

ARCH have more information on the current situation, although I think the critical thing is that the "Information Commissioner is now advising schools that they should obtain the consent of parents if a child is aged under 12, and the joint consent of both parent and any child aged 12 or over, and that fingerprint records should be removed by a data cleansing service when a child leaves the school."

ICantFindAFreeNickName Wed 21-Oct-09 23:44:50

Skidoodle - whilst I agree that the TA was in the wrong & should have checked all the permission slips, I don't understand your comment 'This is the problem with having unqualified people in the classroom' - what do you mean by this, in our school all our TA's are qualified.

BoffMonster Wed 21-Oct-09 22:25:36

I am often interviewed on this topic on the news and so on.

You should be worried.

1. The main organisation flogging the biometric software to your schools is invariably Verisign, who were involved in security at Guantanemo Bay. They make extravagent claims to schools about its benefits, for which I have been unable to find any evidence whatsoever.

2. It is relatively straightforward to forge a fingerprint using gelatine, or to recreate it from the software.

3. The algorithm used is often insecurely stored.

You can change a password, but not your fingerprints. Do not trust organisations with your personal biometric data unless there is a very good reason that transcends library books and school dinners (or indeed speed and convenience of passage through an airport).

dinasaw Wed 21-Oct-09 01:06:01

This has reminded me of a letter we had sent home from school a few years ago. The school wanted permission to pass on data to the Connexions service about my 15 year old son.

I refused on the grounds that I didn't want them having this information as I was unsure what they were going to do with it.

I was also unsure exactly what information they were going to pass on, they didn't specify. From the sound of it, it could have been everything and anything the school have ever known about my son and his family. I'm not entirely sure I wanted this service to have access to that. They also didn't specify how long they would hold this data for and what they intended to do with it.

clam Sat 17-Oct-09 17:58:46

I think that, when your DS said, quite emphatically by the sounds of it, that his mum had said that he wasn't to have it, the TA should have bloody well checked the forms. If he hadn't said anything, then it's more understandable (although not really excusable) that they could say they hadn't checked the forms properly (in which case what the hell was the point in having them?) but HE POINTED OUT THERE WAS A DISCREPANCY.
No excuses. The school (and specifically the TA) are out of order.

Dunno what I think about fingerprinting though.

asdx2 Sat 17-Oct-09 15:52:17

After being thanked for drawing teacher's attention to the fact that I had refused permission for dd to be seen for a medical by school nurse because "they didn't check the slips because parents don't often refuse"
I then had to withdraw dd from school health programme because school nurse then informed me she wouldn't be checking for permission either but if I wrote withdrawing dd then she wouldn't be seen.
Which makes you wonder why the school or school health bother asking for permission in the first place hmm
Incidentally only refused permission because dd has a paediatrician so why would I need her to be seen by a school nurse?

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Sat 17-Oct-09 13:04:07

Right, so I'm "dim" am I? hmm Charming.

As for "gunning for the TA" I don't think she was lying. I bet she was told they had permission from the parents and this is the info she passed on to the child. The only person at fault is whoever misread the permission slip in the first place.

scaryteacher Sat 17-Oct-09 12:14:32

The issue is also ignoring a letter which withheld consent. I refused to let my ds (12 at the time) have the hep b jab last year as he has an underlying health issue and I couldn't get hold of the military docs to discuss how this would affect him if he had it. I went to his school medical with him to ensure that he was NOT given the jab, and the bloody doctor tried to persuade him to have it, even though I had signed to say no; and I was sitting there saying no. If I had not been there I think she would have talked him into it, which irritates the hell out of me, as I had very definitely said no.

There is no point sending out forms for consent if the school is going to ignore what is written on it.

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 11:57:03

The way it was done was entirely wrong skidoodle and there is no excuse for it. I just fail to see what is wrong with anyone having your finger print. If parents object they should set up a rota to run the library, and to replace lost, bent and chewed cards!

skidoodle Sat 17-Oct-09 11:53:14

I can't believe there are people so dim and compliant that they think being "modern" is a good reason to give up personal data.

Read the things the experts in data collection and storage have to say about these schemes. Just because technology makes something possible does not mean it is a good idea or that we should just go along with it.

Fingerprinting a child against a parent's express wishes is a very serious matter. I would be gunning for a ta who would lie to a child like that to coerce them into obedience in that way. She should not be anywhere near a classroom if she treats children with so little respect. This is the problem with having unqualified people in the classroom.

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Sat 17-Oct-09 11:37:02

Personally, I don't see the problem with fingerprint recognition like this. I would be happy to provide a fingerprint instead of using a library card.

WRT the OP, I do think the TA was wrong to lie (although I don't think she was lying, just misinformed) and they clearly handled the permission slips incorrectly which needs looking at.

Interestingly, I am certain DSs school used this for their library system, however, they now have a book which has a barcode next to their name and they scan this to take a book from the library. They would appear to have ditched the finger reader. Obviously the barcode system is not as "secure" but it's only a book, not a high value computer, they're borrowing

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 11:26:16

I trust that those of you who want the school to adopt a labour intensive, time consuming method of running the library are going to volunteer to go into school and help?

purepurple Sat 17-Oct-09 11:16:49

DD had this system when she was at junior school. I don't remember having to give my permission.
She just came home and said they had all had it down.
It obviously doesn't work though. She has been left over a year and still has school library books in her room.
I don't have a problem with it, and don't see it as any sort of infringement.
When DS was at high school, a teen was stabbed and killed and the whole school had to have locker searches by the police. At first, I did think it a bit of an infringement to do it without the parents being there. But, I quickly realised that a child had been murdered. Infringement of human rights pales into insignificance when you put it into perspective.

teamcullen Sat 17-Oct-09 10:47:18

I agree piscesmoon- they can have mine and my kids too. I see it as moving with the times rather than thinking that the government is out to get me.

People thorght the same about using something called the internet 15 years ago.

I wonder if the peole who object to fingerprint technology dont go to their local town anymore because "big brother is watching"

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 08:57:24

Anyone can have my fingerprint-I don't see it as an issue.

ABetaDad Sat 17-Oct-09 08:34:36

ladymariner/teamcullen - this is the bit that frightens me.

As edam rightly points out I have left fingerprints all over the place this week and most likely at a few scenes of crime unbeknown to me.

"what if the fingerprint was found at the scene of a rape and following the sinario you gave us, the fingerprint was traced back to a 16 year old boy who was found to have have other forensic evidence to relate him to commiting the crime?"

How convenient it would be then to just pick up every young person that happened to have left a fingerprint at a crime scene by just scanning through a ready made school library database - whether innocent or not.

The more serious the crime the more public pressure there would be to 'catch' the perpertrator by any means possible. This has got potential miscarriage of justice written all over it and it is just a matter of time before this kind of library fingerprint database technology is used help make an arrest. There is increasing concern that fingerprint and DNA 'evidence' is routinely being misused and misunderstood in court principally because it is often presented as infallible and irefutable evidence when it is not. It is merely circumstantial evidence in many cases. It is impossibe for lay people on a jury who do not have the technical knowledge or even the information put in front of them to decipher what is reliable hard evidence or what is circumstantial evidence and what is not evidence at all. Just because a fingerprint or DNA is found at a crime scene and it can be matched to a database does not prove a person commited the crime but that is often how it is presented.

More to the point, even being arrested for a serious crime on the off chance of a fingerprint match being found on a database has very serious implications as it leads to fingerprints and DNA being taken at the police station and it never being removed form the persons record even if totally innocent. The police increasingly arrest all young people at crime scenes as a matter of routine (e.g like after fights outside pubs) and they all end up on the police database even when innocent. It could happen to all our children.

I am not into conspircy theory stuff but I just do not buy the 'if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' arguement. Most serious civil liberties people don't either.

My DSs are never going on one of these library fingerprint systems. We told he school we would buy books for them from a list provided by the school if necessary and create our own library.

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 08:26:29

sorry cards not cars!!

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 08:26:02

I still don't see a problem. Someone could steal your library card and leave it at the scene of the crime. Anyone complaining obviously hasn't had to hand out 30 library cars to infants on a regular basis-and expected them to hand them in again.

ravenAK Sat 17-Oct-09 00:30:10


'If the software changed, and you COULD recreate a fingerprint from this library procedure, would it still be ok?'

No. That's why I've said it bears watching, but my layperson's understanding is that the process - so it's not to do with the software, as there's perfectly adequate software on my home PC to produce high res scans of the whole town's fingerprints -is that you can't reverse engineer from a 9 or 12 digit ID number to an image of someone's fingerprint.

'If the libraries were to require a full set of inked fingerprints from your DCs to take out a book, would you agree happily to that?'

No. Why would they want to, anyway, if a computer-generated number from one fingerprint is sufficient to identify a student in a high school population of 1000 or so?

'What about eye scanning, if they had that, instead of finger scanning? Would that be OK? After all, why is eye scanning any different to finger scanning?'

Well, if it's a means of generating a number, it isn't any different. Fingers are probably easier though.

Look, I agree it's something that needs monitoring.

But in practical terms, I teach in a school of 800, & I could put a name probably to 500 faces. So could the school librarian, but if our Head wasn't too tight to pay for this system, it might speed things up a bit for her...

It's a bit of a toy at present, & I think it's part of a much bigger potential picture. Hmm.

Still wouldn't go gunning for the TA personally, though. I'd be tackling the governors about whether a) they should be introducing such a system & b) how they think 'opt-outs' should be protected from internal cock ups as in the OP.

kid Fri 16-Oct-09 23:51:42

I haven't read all of the posts, but have read a few.
I think it was wrong of the TA to tell your son that you had given permission, I imagine that did confuse him.

But, maybe the TA didn't deliberately lie to him. Perhaps she saw the letter and assumed it was to give permission.

Do all of their request letters allow you to show you opt out of something? At my DCs school, if you return a letter, it is usually to give consent. If you don't agree, you don't return the letter.

The TA still should have checked, but it would be a better reson rather than she lied.

Ouchhhh Fri 16-Oct-09 23:50:34

I don't like it either.

Put it this way (to those who can't see anything wrong with this)

If the software changed, and you COULD recreate a fingerprint from this library procedure, would it still be ok?

If the libraries were to require a full set of inked fingerprints from your DCs to take out a book, would you agree happily to that?

What about eye scanning, if they had that, instead of finger scanning? Would that be OK? After all, why is eye scanning any different to finger scanning?

Doesn't matter how you can't recreate a visual fingerprint <at the moment, possibly> yada yada; the fact is that each record stored is unique to your fingerprint, and requires your fingerprint specifically. It's the "new" "visual compare", as it were. We think it's more innocent because it's not taking a print with paper and ink the old fashioned way.

The information is still person-specific and to assume that there won't be a cross-referencing of this data with other data systems in the future is naive.

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