Feeds

Becta gives schools biometric data guidance

In line with data protection laws

3 Big data security analytics techniques

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) has published guidance for schools on how to implement biometrics in line with data protection laws.

The guidance (pdf), published on 23 July by the government's schools ICT agency, advises schools to involve parents in any decision to introduce biometric or fingerprint technology. At the same time it insists schools have the freedom to run their own affairs.

Drawn up with support from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the guidance stresses that head teachers and governing bodies should be clear and open with all parents and pupils about the use of biometric systems.

This could involve: explaining what biometric technology is; how it will be used; what is involved; what data will be stored; why it is required; how it will be secured; and how long it will be retained.

Schools are also advised to recognise some parents' or pupils' concerns over the introduction of biometric technology and offer alternative systems, such as smartcards, to access the same services if they opt out.

Becta chief executive Stephen Crowne underlined that schools must make their own decisions over the systems they employ but need to take account of the sensitivities surrounding the technology.

He said: "Schools must ensure that they engage fully with parents and pupils and consider the provision of alternative systems if there are strong objections to the use of biometric technology."

Biometric systems, says the guidance, are designed to validate a pupil's identity and should not hold any other data. They can help to speed up lunch queues, remove the need for children to take money into schools, and remove the stigma for pupils who claim free school meals. Biometric attendance systems can also be used to save time in taking registers and preventing unauthorised access to school premises.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, schools can only use biometric information for the express purpose for which it was collected. They must also process data fairly and lawfully to ensure that all pupils, or their parents if they are not able to understand, know what personal information is held on record and how it will be used.

"Schools are well used to handling sensitive information like attendance registers, behaviour records, and home addresses," said schools minister Jim Knight.

"But we are absolutely clear that they have to comply with data protection laws. That means that this data can only be used for its stated purpose; cannot be shared with third parties beyond this stated purpose; and it must be destroyed when a pupil leaves their school."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.