Feeds

Becta gives schools biometric data guidance

In line with data protection laws

Security for virtualized datacentres

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.