Feeds

MPs investigate school fingerprinting

System suppliers chip in too

The essential guide to IT transformation

Opposition MPs have begun investigating the use of biometric scanners in UK schools and the use of funds that might otherwise be spent buying books and learning materials to buy the systems.

Foremost in written parliamentary questions tabled by Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs was the question of fingerprint scanners being bought with e-Learning credits, which are a mechanism used by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to provide schools with direct funding to buy educational software.

Sarah Teather, shadow education secretary and MP for Brent East, asked the government whether it had given schools permission to use e-Learning credits to buy biometric scanners that took children's fingerprints.

"I believe that the collection of biometric data from young pupils without parental consent is illegal and must cease," she told The Register in a written statement.

"The DfES needs to consult with parents, pupils, and local authorities. This can't be a decision made by ministers behind closed doors."

Parents who have been campaigning against their children being fingerprinted at school without their consent met yesterday with Teather and Nick Gibb, the Conservative shadow minister for schools.

A Conservative spokeswoman said Gibb was writing about his concerns over school fingerprinting to schools Minister Jim Knight.

Gibb asked the government if it knew how many schools were collecting their pupils' fingerprints, whether fingerprint scanners could be bought with e-Learning credits, and what advice the DfES was giving schools about the security of data they kept about children.

The DfES gave £330m straight to schools for spending on e-Learning materials to April 2006, after which it dished out another £125m to last until 2008.

Campaigners are concerned that thousands of schools have used their money to buy fingerprint scanners to get kids' dabs at registration, at the library counter, and at the canteen checkout.

The Register could find only two known suppliers of fingerprint systems on the list of those whose products are approved for purchase with e-Learning credits.

Micro Librarian Systems (MLS) managing director Andrew O'Brien said about 9,000 primary schools had bought its base system at an average cost of £1,100.

Schools were authorised to buy MLS's system using e-Learning credits, but the purchases where justified because the software tied children's experience in the library into the ICT and literacy curriculum, he said.

But the biometric module, which scanned children's fingerprints before authorising their borrowing of library books and cost £260, was an additional module that could not be bought with e-Learning credits.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Next page: Bootnote

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.