The government has told head teachers to lighten up after one British school told children in the dinner queue that if they didn't give their fingerprints they wouldn't get any food. The Department for Education and Skills said this week in a statement to the BBC Radio 4 Programme You and Yours that schools who refused school …
I don't get how there wasn't any option to not use fingerprints, considering the failure rate of the kind of readers that they will be using and the fact that not all people's fingerprints are readable. What were they going to do say "Sorry, your fingers aren't compatible with the reader, you'll need to bring packed lunches from now on."
I also just don't see any advantage of gathering the data in this way.
I imagine this also breaches several acts by not providing access to persons who have lost their fingers/hands/arms.
Also given how hygienic most school children are is it really sensible to ask them all to swipe at least one of their fingers on the same scanner as everyone else just before they eat their lunch?
John Townsley clearly shouldn't be working in the education sector.
And the idea that this will stop kids feeling stigmatised for getting free school meals is a total crock. Townsley needs to spend less time in management meetings and more time in his school. Maybe then he'd realise that the children under his care need to be fed and not "processed".
... the truth starts to slip out:
"We have given parents an opt out. The opt out is that you don't have to have anything to do with the system whatsoever..."
Now extend that to the NHS or Local Authority Services or Benefits or a whole host of other things and you see what is likely to happen with ID Cards. "If you don't register for an ID card then you don't have anything to do with the system."
(And for those saying "but it says it's against the law", do you really think that will stop a Government that now has the Legislative Reform Act that lets them change the law without even consulting our elected representatives in Parliament??)
This is a joke right. I thought this finger printing was all hype... They really are finger printing kids now.
WHY? What will it prove, what does it matter, where is the information going?
To see who ate there?
This world is going crazy
If all the dabs were already on record, this could help reduce future police paperwork too. After all, it's only a matter of time before the little cherubs end up on the database anyway.
Meanwhile, CHINA says it's going too far. CHINA! And the 'democratic', 'free' UK allows it.
"Also given how hygienic most school children are is it really sensible to ask them all to swipe at least one of their fingers on the same scanner as everyone else just before they eat their lunch?"
Given how unhygienic kids are I'd be surprised if the scanners worked at all.. unless they made them wash their hands before using them, which isn't a bad thing at all.
Makes China look nicer every day.
How can a country such as China have gotten this right while our own can't ever manage it
That's not a school...
Stand in line and show your fingerprint or you don't get your ration? That's not a school, that's what a concentration camp is supposed to be like.
When I was still in school, we'd be literally rioting if anyone tried to force something like this on us.
Dare I say it ...
... But it looks like we could take a lesson from the Chinese, well known for their policies advocating personal freedoms *cough*
Heard a preview clip of Alan Johnson (Health Secretary) on Desert Island Discs today (The show goes out this Sunday) and when asked about his deprived childhood gave as his only example the fact that he had free school dinners and was embarrassed by it because he had to reply 'Free Dinner' when asked in class for his dinner money. I'd be hugely amused if he used fingerprinting as the answer to this stigma. It's always interesting to hear the still serving politicians on programmes like this as they still have to stick to the party line with anything they say.
..oh! and amanfrommars is A.I. - That is all
Why on earth does a school need to take the finger prints of children at all. It can't be the anti-terrorism angle, surely? Anyone know what their justification (excuse) is?
I don't want anyone to have a record of my or my child's finger prints. If that information ever got into the wrong hands, who knows what the implications of that could be in the future.
Still sounds more useful than what I had at school.
When i was at junior school there was a machine where you put in £1 or whatever it was that the school dinner cost. In rturn it dispenced a credit card sized plastic card. You walked along 3 feet and put the card in a jar with a slot cut in the lid.
It just seemed like the most pointless peice of kit ever, surely a bolted down jar you just put the money in would be better.
I personaly cant see any problem with fingerprinting them.
"I also just don't see any advantage of gathering the data in this way."
I personally cannot see why 'data' has to be gathered in the first place!! I have not seen or heard of one single sound justification for this.
It is simply a case of unscrupulous sales and marketing people targetting the education sector because they have found a dodge for tapping into schools purchasing budgets. It is exactly the same with the ID cards scheme - they are quite clearly inventing half-baked justifications for this in order to get their hands on taxpayers money, through a side door which is supposedly guarded by MPs, but several of those same MPs are on the boards of the tech companies themselves.
This Is England
The Daily Hate (Daily Mail) et al have England so terrified/outraged that "civil liberties" barely exist now. When the leader of the Labour Party is criticised by the POLICE FEDERATION for being "too right wing" then you can see where England is headed.
I say England as it IS England (well the English media really) which is causing this lurch towards what is frankly fascism - both Labour & Conservative are much the same now on all major policies.
Middle England hates everything that isn't Middle England and therein lies the basic problem as Middle England demands (every sodding day) that "something must be done" about the non-Middle England bits. Doesn't matter what it is either - just DO SOMETHING NOW! Politicians, being self-serving venal scum, will be quite happy to do anything at all if it guarantees votes - that's why we have had over 3000 new "offences" added to the statute book in the last decade.
In Scotland the SNP (who used to be called "Scottish Tories") are now viewed as distinctly left-wing in comparison to Labour which I find unbelievable.
Before having a pop at the head (who does sound like a complete dick) you should perhaps think about the political climate in this country - eg children have their DNA sampled by police without their consent and then the DNA record is retained when the child is released without charge. Oh and we have at least one senior high court judge who believes EVERYONE should have their DNA recorded. Taking a hash of a fingerprint probably seems like trivia when viewed in context.
This is England in 2007. Enjoy. Or if you have the choice go somewhere else. Really.
Rant over :-P
What's the big problem?
Let's stop being so namby-pamby about things, this is technology being utilised for a genuinely useful real-world application. Furthermore the schools' systems actually should be linked in to the police database so they have a more comprehensive fingerprint coverage of the general population. It might lead some of these scrotes to think twice before smashing up a bus stop.
If a blood sample was taken for DNA analysis - to be added to the Police DNA database - at the same time these kids were given their MMR vaccines then all the better. And getting the MMR should be compulsory for all citizens.
RE - ..oh! and amanfrommars is A.I.
I quiet agree, except for the 'I' bit.
"Or if you have the choice go somewhere else"
China sounds increasingly attractive. Somewhere nice and liberal like that...
What does the J stand for? Why is it that everyone wants privacy for themselves and cataloging and fingerprinting for everyone else.
There was a documentary about surveillance cameras, they went into the office to visit the man in charge and he made them switch their camera off. Why????? It's a public place, they wanted to film him with a camera, what is the difference between that and what he does?
Yet he didn't see any connection.
I think there's some sort of cognitive dissonance there. You didn't give your surname, yet the students have to give their fingerprints.
Watch out for kids who mysteriously have fingers go missing, They have been selling their own fingers on the black market So that they can keep their school bully happy.
Noticed that child with the extra finger.... You know why!!!
Free meals = Politically Correct
When I was a lad growing up on a council estate there was only one kid in our school that got free meals and that was because his dad had died. Everybody knew this and there was no stigmatism attached. I would venture that these days it is the poor sods in a stable two parent (one of each sex) family with a reasonable income that are likely to be stigmatised for NOT getting free meals.
The parents are not happy, getting your fingerprints taken is something that happens to suspects 'taken down to the police station to have their fingerprints taken' and no idiot will believe that once your fingerprints are on record that record won't be spread around. I think they're also fed up with this surveillance society and want to make a stand.
I think they're also fed up with this surveillance society and want to make a stand.
(I thought that point was worth repeating). This is tiny, a fingerprint used to identify the person used to bill the meal to instead of trusting them with money or tokens. But it's the straw that breaks the camels back for many parents.
Trust and Respect
A great loss to the cohesion of society when you need to enforce rules upon people with the use of tools which remove their most basic feedoms; I mean jeeze I was born into this world with only my skin on my back and these fellows want to take it all and record it so that I can participate in some grant utopia where the masters of it all sit in very high ivory towers indeed.
Pathetic human beings being so stupid as always missing the point; Tim J you too, I say we record everything about you and make sure some sadistic murderer gets into power and decided your not required and comes a hunting for your skin.
But don't worry you done nothing wrong, but that doesn't matter because you decided to forfeit every protection again misuse of personal data in favour of catching a few petty thugs that properly trained police could catch.
When ah were a lad, there were a list...
You gave your name and got it ticked off. They used lower-sixth "Form monitors" so it didn't cost anything except a photostatted sheet per class per week. Only the people entitled to meals were on the list, whether they'd paid/agreed to pay/got some waiver or other.
Billing (or not) and eating were entirely separated and no one could know who was getting free meals.
Finger print hashes and all the failure rates that implies have to be more trouble than the system at my old school.
"Privacy" to be removed from Oxford Dictionary
I don't think we are this far off! Our politicians want to control everything and when you look at the surveillance here in the UK, it is revolting!!!
I have already sent a letter to our school stating, that under no circumstance I will allow my children to be finger printed, biometrically scanned, or DNA sequenced.
This entire idea, with having DNA profiles available is completely bonkers!!!
Looking at the quality of maintenance of the current DNA database, it is unlikely if not impossible for our government to even dream of being capable of handling this sort of information (Either these politicians are too stupid, too incompetent, or just too paid off). After all politicians are together with banks, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies nothing but legalized criminals and moral low-lifes.
And specially here in the UK, they have a habit of just following those "new world" wannabies.
I under no circumstance condone, or as a matter of fact, I completely condemn suicide bombers and the all this stupid killing of innocent people, but when I look at what is going on with our so called "western and civilised" governments, I can certainly understand where they are coming from.
Realistically our governments are very much like those of former East Germany, or the USSR.
It does make you wonder - well it makes me wonder anyway - whether "authoritarian" states like China have now decided (via trial and error) what is "acceptable" to Joe Public without causing protests every other week and that is the level of surveillance which takes place.
Ironically it seems that we in the "West" are still "experimenting" along those lines. We have data the US could only dream of (DNA taken and recorded FOREVER once you have been arrested) but I guess they already have all that now as the UK leaks data like a sponge. We're all remembering RIPA yes? I bet you're not.
Rights? We've heard of them and we don't have them. Don't give me bollox about ECHR or constitutions - people have died waiting for that.
....Our political aparatchiks learned just who the [censored] they damn well work for, and just who the [censored] that money they are spending belongs too. Anyone up for one day general strike ?
I'll tell you why
The reason why schoolchildren are being subjected to unnecessary biometrics (and it *is* unnecessary; a school is an environment where everyone really does know everyone else) is to prepare them for not having such a thing as a private life when they grow up.
Condition them while they're young to show IDs, give fingerprints and accept authority without question -- that's what the government want. And of course no private firm is going to turn down the opportunity to be a monopoly supplier of something that eventually will be made compulsory.
A quick glance at this timeline of events shows the true extent to which Britain has become a nation of pathetic, cowering sycophants who will put up with anything the government throws at them, then crawl over broken glass to beg for more of the same.
1984: Miners' strike. Huge popular sympathy for the striking workers.
1990: Poll Tax. Popular sympathy for demonstrators but some people just tutted quietly and paid anyway.
1993: Criminal Justice Bill. Noticeably less sympathy for demonstrators than 1984; eventual passage of Act (in 1994) seems accepted as inevitable.
2000: Fuel Protest. Outraged voices peter out and blockades are lifted after a few days. Britain stops tutting quietly, returns to work.
2007: Smoking ban. An Englishman's home is no longer his Castle as the government seeks to disrupt lawful acts taking place on private property, running counter to the letter of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 (see 1993 above). Sanctimonious non-smokers gush about how wonderful it will be to have a pint without coming home smelling like an old ashtray. Even smokers seem to think it might give them the fillip they need to give up. Ordinary non-smokers prefer being rained on outside pubs with the smokers, while a few people inside sip mineral water and complain about the smell of stale beer and body fluids.
2007: Schools taking fingerprints. Compulsory ID cards for all. Fuel price breaks £1 barrier. And all anybody does about it is tut quietly, or blog about it (until they get a takedown notice, then they remove it and apologise).
Didn't help much with the spelling though. Unless you are just a poor undernourished typist.
@A J Stiles
"1984: Miners' strike. Huge popular sympathy for the striking workers."
I take your point but you could have said it better?
"1984: Miners' strike. The police become politicised and are given real terms increases in funding for the next 30 years. The deal? Do what the govt says regardless of morality."
I think that would be more factually accurate?
It's not the DfES
Hate to be picky, but the government department running schools these days is called the DCSF - Department for Children, Schools and Families - and has been since Gordon came to power (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/)
re: A J
Was it just coincidence that your timeline started with 1984? :)
Have I missed something ?
I last heard that school were short of cash to pay for essential repairs, teachers, books things that are actually useful to them. Yet here is a school in a deprived area with loads of cash to buy fingerprint machines, computers to manage them and train people how to use the scanners to stop the little oiks from spending their dinner money on essentials (beer, vodka, fags) and scrounging a free school meal.
Perhaps we need a change in the education system, not the NuLabour way, but perhaps start issuing vouchers so schools are paid direct, by the parents to educate and take care of the precious bundles of fun. Perhaps then we shall really find out what people want, do they want the intrusion of finger printing, do they want the take it or leave it attitude, or will some schools open their gates and find parents queuing outside, voucher in hand, because they offer a decent education instead of a few technological gimmicks to manage something they have managed for over 50 years quite easily.
It would also serve as a reminder as to who is the boss. Far too many in public office have forgotten whom they are their to serve. From doctors refusing to treat smokers (did you take an oath to treat people ?), stealing organs from dead people (though, technically their next of kin) and generally abusing the trust placed in them. Police, who spend their entire existence devoted to gaining more draconian powers, though never quite learning how to deal with people. Councils who could care less about the electorate, just that they can demand as much as they feel like with impunity. And now schools, who think it is OK to tell parents to take their progeny elsewhere or surrender their fingerprints.
Now, back to the point, would they be as glib if there were somewhere else to go ?
It is with sincere regret that see Stalin walking the corridors of power in this country now, this once proud nation being dumbed down and oppressed like never before. The time is coming when it is enough, though I think it is here already. I shall wait for my job application to Switzerland to come through, bit ironic that, to be free, I shall have to learn German after all.
"you then have the responsibility as a mum, dad or carer to provide a very healthy alternative to your child."
From the little I know of school dinners, I can't see this taking too much time out of Mum or Dad's day.
better safe than sorry
Well in my opinion, Jonh Towsen and his cronies, who approved this system should be shot or at the very least prevented from working in public sector in the future.
My 2 sisters go there.
I used to as well,
There was absolutely no choice given regarding this, even my youngest sister who takes packed lunches and has no intention of ever eating school meals (she is a fussy eater) had to give her print she has never even used the system.
When I asked her about this she said she was threatened with being put in the isolation unit if she did not comply.
Talk about Stalag Morley High, the kids can't even take their jumpers off on the way home in the middle of summer.
Mr Townsley is going to be on the receiving end of some choice words tomorrow. Including demands to delete my sisters' data, making sure that the drives its stored on are written to and wiped at least 4 times to ensure proper removal.
Hopefully by the time I've finished there will be a nice letter of apology to my sisters and parents.
I may even email it to el-REG. Wish me luck!
@ John Naismith and Anonymous Vulture
To John Naismith. I am in absolute instinctive agreement with you, John: politicians are, indeed, self-serving venal scum. Nicely put if a tad understated.
To Anonymous Vulture. It isn't necessary to add a blizzard of comments to every item in El Reg. You won't get a prize for profligacy and you're starting to piss off us regulars.
As to fingerprinting kids to verify their eligibility for subsidised school dinners, it is not only a misuse of technology, an affront to libertarian ideals, and an absurd example of the sledgehammer approach to nut-cracking, it also proves there's no such thing as a free lunch - at least not if you are poor.
Doh! An idiot sees the light...
Further to my previous comment, I've just realised that 'Anonymous Vulture' isn't a single person's nick...
Apologies for being stupid but it IS late here and I work in IT.
this is to
soften them up for the time when they will be accountable for every last piece of their DNA.
The cops find a match for your DNA at a crime scene (eg bus stop, pub), you've got to go and explain why you aren't in the frame. Oh, and they can lock you up for 90 days (= no job when you get out) while you're doing your explaining.
But hey, a politician said no need to get paranoid.
From the other side of the pond...
I work for a school district outside of Philadelphia and if any suggested such a program, the proposer would be run out of the area (and ultimately out of office). I'll stop my criticisms there. After all, those of us that live in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones...
I am this:
And the first person to say "If they've done nothing wrong, then they have nothing to fear" will feel the force of my wheelbrace across the bridge of their nose.
Aux armes, citoyens!
Some Further Information...
We have to ask ourselves why, out of all the thousands of schools that have fingerprinted their pupils, not one (as far as I am aware) has asked parental permission to do so.
I would have thought that asking permission would have been the first thing head teachers (or any reasonable person) would think of doing.
However, the government argues that, since fingerprint images are not actually stored on the system, the fingerprinting systems comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and, therefore, parental knowledge and consent are not required.
This is quite an incredible position. If the fingerprint data on the computer is sufficient to identify an individual - who cares if an image of the fingerprint is stored or not ? - it makes no difference.
The "fingerprints are not actually stored" argument is just a diversion used by most biometric vendors (and repeated by the government) to fool their customers into believing that the data held on their systems is not sensitive - which is patently untrue.
Teachers have been told that the fingerprint data is "a code”, "a bar code", “a hash” or "a number". It is actually (in the case of Junior Librarian) 300 bytes of data that forms a map of the minutiae (significant points) of a child's fingerprint ( http://www.leavethemkidsalone.com has a good diagram of this).
for a description of this by MLS (Micro Librarian Systems Ltd) - the suppliers of Junior Librarian and Eclipse products.
For school lunch fingerprinting systems, there is QuickDine, supplied by LCR Limited, which uses the M2SYS flagship fingerprint software, Bio-Plugin.
Here is a link to a M2SYS publicity page that gives this information:
M2SYS's FAQ gives a similar description of their system to the letter by MLS:
It's interesting to note that they state that (on a standalone PC) their system can match in 1 second a fingerprint against 20,000 samples in their database (pretty good for a school lunch system !).
The Information Commissioner believes that (w.r.t the biometric technology used by MLS):
“although theoretically possible to use the information obtained from this system to match finger prints taken from the scene of a crime,the resources this would require make this highly impractical” see:
This may be true for hackers, but it is not true for the Government.
If, as biometric suppliers frequently claim, the fingerprint templates are of no use to the police, why did The Minister for Schools and Learners (Jim Knight) state:
“they could only access the data as part of an investigation into a specific crime.” see:
Although the data is encrypted, the Government has the power to demand encryption keys from the system supplier, under the terms of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part III, so that is not an obstacle to them.
What guarantee is there that the Library systems actually operate, and will continue to operate in the way that teachers and parents have been led to believe they do ?
The computers containing the fingerprint data will surely be connected to the Internet, so that software updates can be installed.
Can we really be sure that there is no existing back-door mechanism that will automatically transmit fingerprint data or images to police/government databases ?
Can we be certain that the government will never commission a software update that will introduce a back-door mechanism at some time in the future ?
The schools would probably be unaware of this happening until it is too late (if at all).
Since the current systems have been introduced without parental knowledge or consent, why should the government keep us informed of any subsequent changes to the systems ?
Once the fingerprints are in the hands of the government, they will never be deleted and could be compared against prints found at crime scenes, in the same way that Mr. Blair has publicly stated will happen with fingerprints on the National Identity Register - see:
Automatic fingerprint matching is inherently imperfect, crime scene prints have a worryingly large (1 in 100,000) chance of being incorrectly matched with an those of an innocent person.
See paragraph 170 of:
for details of false match rates.
If a child has never touched a fingerprint scanner, there is zero probability of being incorrectly investigated for a crime.
If a child has touched a scanner he or she will be at the mercy of the matching algorithm for the rest of their lives.
Freedom implies criminals.
The headmaster at this school really sounds as if he needs an invitation to the equivalent of the Nuremburg trials!
To those (few, I note), that are using the "databases keep crime down" argument, you may or may not be correct. As far as I know, there is no country in which there is a genuine zero crime rate, partly because in the pursuit of that zero crime rate, more "crimes" are invented so that it is all but impossible not to break one - the subsequent fear makes the population fearful of when they will get caught, and therefore, they are not free. Only those who consider themselves free will break laws in any system. In essence, any specific crime prevention policy is a reduction in freedom. Softening up children to accept the giving away of identifying data with no real reason, such as school dinners or library books, with the argument "you don't have to do it, but you are excluded from this aspect of society" is in essence nothing different from the "voluntary" membership of a small group called the Brown Shirts somewhere in Europe in the 1930s (where was it again? - just can't seem to remember). Instead of instilling trust and responsibility, this country is relying on suspicion and fear. True freedom is not freedom from crime, but freedom to decide not to commit crime because it is wrong, not because you might get caught. A free society accepts that there will be some crime, and makes arrangements to deal with it in proportion to the damage that is caused.
It is a bad day when China begins to look like an attractive proposition because of the relative state of civil liberties ...
My 2 sisters go to stalag Morley High School
Message for Paul who's sisters attend Morley High school.
Thank you for sharing with the world about what is happening at Stalag Morley High School! Well done you, for speaking out!
Please do let us know how you go on with your mission. I have heard that there are indeed many dissenting parents and pupils. Absolutely no reports in the mainstream media, as of yet, about the fact that children who are on packed lunches were also photographed and fingerprinted.
BBC Radio Leeds reported that they had found ten schools in the Leeds area, who were already using biometrics in schools. Therefore Morley High is *NOT* the first school to use biometrics in the Leeds area as was reported on the ITN Calender TV Programme.
The system is said to be cashless, but another unreported fact is that children now have to take more cash into the school to put through the terminals.
Do you know if the children who were previously on school meals, now forced onto packed lunches for refusal to comply.. If they have, as of yet received a written letter of apology and an alternative option for eating a school dinner?
Thanks for speaking out about this issue!
Ramsey Abbey College in Cambridgeshire
The Abbey College in Ramsey has not gone down the path of Biometrics. It has taken on GrIDsure to ID it's pupils when they login to school systems. The kids and teachers all use it, for internal and external login, and in theory could use it for paying for lunch. It creates a One time pass-code each time it is used, and can't be shoulder surfed by the next kid. It's also stopping cyber-bullying after pupils stole logins and sent evil emails out.
And best yet, it is not Biometrics so can be changed.
This Headmaster is using Stasi tactics, it is unbelievable. I hope that Paul reports back to let us know of progress.
I wish that more parents would regain control of their kids from the State, you can't expect pupils to oppose this fingerprinting indignity alone, they need backup. If this is allowed unopposed then what other aspects of school life will be compulsory?
This reminds me of the Hurworth case a few months ago where a model pupil was banned from the school prom for declining to attend "voluntary" after school revision classes. Different schools, same type of management style.
"you don't have to do it, but you are excluded from this aspect of society"
You could say the same aout a driving licence, passports.
You don't have to submit your information to the DVLA, UKPA, or anyone else. But if you don't you can't have a driving licence, passport. You don't hear people saying, "well this is ridicilus, i want to start driving a car, but they want my details. What ever happened to civil liberties?"
Morley High School
Those poor children, what a terrible situation to be in. This is "supposed " to be a civilized country.
And ALL public servants are accountable to we the tax payers, not the other way round!
My God, If this school is capable of doing something as horrendous as this, we need to ask ourselves:
What else is happening to children at Morley High School that we the tax payers need to know about?