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.