Pressure group: perverts will use tech to track your kids
'We don't know for certain we shouldn't get worried'
A pressure group has warned of worsening threats to children's rights in the UK from biometric and tracking technologies.
ARCH, Action on Rights for Children, is a not-for-profit organisation run by a group of concerned citizens, including a Professor of Childhood Studies and the borough citizenship coordinator for Tower Hamlets.
Also on the board is the director of the Phoenix Education Trust, "a small national charity which promotes education in which all members of the school community [including pupils] have a voice and real power".
ARCH is concerned that UK schools, parents and educational authorities are too inclined to use tech-based solutions without considering the consequences. In particular, they believe that use of biometric ID systems in schools is getting out of hand, warning of the danger inherent in routinely recording and storing children's fingerprints - or identifiable signatures derived from them.
According to the report they have lately issued:
The fingerprint itself is not stored... Each time a child touches the scanner another template is created and run through the database to check for a near match... Britain is the only country in Europe to use biometric technology extensively in schools.
There are undoubtedly data security implications for the use of biometric systems. Police are able to access school databases to aid in the investigation of crime... A fingerprint is for life and... cannot be replaced as if it were a PIN number... Manufacturers' assurances that data is encrypted are likely to become meaningless with developments in IT and increased computing speed.
Biometric vendors and schools themselves have repeatedly claimed that fingerprints cannot be reconstructed from templates, but even if this were not open to debate, it is a red herring.
The Reg spoke to Terri Dowty, director of ARCH and one of the authors of the report (the other was Pippa King, "a concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in 1984 type society".)
Ms Dowty felt that parents should encourage their children not to give out unique, lifetime identifiers such as fingerprints for "low-level purposes" such as running school libraries or attendance registers. That said, she also expressed scepticism as to whether fingerprints would ever work in high-level applications such as the proposed National ID cards, as it was trivially easy to copy people's real fingerprints - let alone templates.
So perhaps there's no great need to worry, as fingerprint-backed ID will surely be a total failure?
Dowty was having none of it.
"We don't know for certain that we shouldn't get worried," she said.
@ Andy Gibson
You are either extremely trusting, extremely naive or just extremely unthinking.
The "only the guilty have anything to fear" argument is patently specious. It is from the litany of scaremongering self-righteousness peddled by the likes of the Daily Mail.
Self-evidently, the innocent have nothing to fear ONLY if nobody ever abused the system (there are crooks even in the civil service and police force); and nobody ever made mistakes within the system (like losing 25 million personal records); and there was never any incompetence or malevolence or maladministration by those administering the law (ranging from vindictive parking wardens to miscarriages of justice by judges and prosecutors). And, of course, that you never made any mistakes either.
Not to mention the entirely innocent fear - or distaste for - being constantly spied upon.
Who do you trust...?
The Government has just admitted that two disks of Benefits Claimants' details have gone missing, something that could affect half the country's population.
And they expect us to *trust* them with systems like the ones in this article?
Children, schools and education
Just a reminder that in England it is not illegal not to send your childern to school - only not to give them an education. (If they are already at a school, the local authority needs to be formally notified that you will be educating them yourself before you withdraw them). In practice it is simple to satisfy the criteria for giving them an education - most parents/guardians will far exceed the requirements anyway.