Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/15/letters_1509/

Censorship, naughty teens, biometrics and butt-plugs

Intriguing, no?

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Bootnotes, 15th September 2006 10:58 GMT

Letters This one just isn't going away. To recap, for those who did not fingerprint themselves into earlier lessons: The information Comissioner's Office rules that schools can fingerprint pupils without parental consent. You are all outraged.

Next, a headteacher explains that he's quite happy and so are the parents. Then, the NUT joins the dissenters.

Your thoughts, diverse as they often are, follow:

"Clouter said it was a sign of the way the fingerprinting of school children was being managed: "Sliding it under people's noses and then presenting it as a fait accompli.""

Isn't that the standard MO of schools? From my experience that's the normal way they introduce anything they think will be contentious.

Jonathan Fitt

I live in Dublin and my son has just started at 'The Institute of Education', a school specialising in the Leaving Certificate (the Irish equivalent to A-levels).

He has to use a combination of a palm print and a pin each morning as he enters the school, although attendance is taken in each class as well. The second slide in the slideshow on their front page http://www.ioe.ie/ actually shows a palm scanner in the entrance hall.

I reckon the palm print is to prevent kids logging each other in. Oh, and the 'you're being watched'- vibe it gives him freaks him out, which I regard as something of a good thing given how prone teenage boys are to arsing off.


Two people calling out of 1400 sound smore like the ratio of kids who actually give school notes to their parents.

When my son got a new bag last year, I tipped out the old one before throwing it away.

There were 3 years of school notices in the bottom.

I suggest that 2 out of 1400 is a pretty good return for something the kids didn't really care about (e.g compared with a permission slip to goto Thorpe Park for the day in the last week of term).


1 hammer + 1 fingerprint scanner == expensive pile of scrap.

I wish I was still at school, I'd cause so much trouble now days.

Matt D.

I work in a school as the Network Manager. I was surprised to read about a system that we had taken a look at but had to turn down due to the cost. Eventually we settled a system which requires teacher interaction but that was purely on cost and against my technical advice.

But to quote Terri Dowty, a former teacher and director of Action on Rights for Children "When I was teaching, attendance-taking was an important part of the day. You would call the name, look up, and make eye contact - notice them for a second. It was an important human part of the day."

Well unfortunately she isn't teaching anymore and most teachers hate calling out a register because of the short attention span of the kiddies. So therefore a quick and effective way is needed to register the kid (especially if you want to do this in every lesson).

After a few months of research I felt that the only way we could be 100% sure that students were in lessons (and other students that shouldn't were not) was by using fingerprinting.

Yes it is Big Brother and Orwellian but I'd rather have these kids safe in school rather than wandering the streets either causing or getting into trouble. Anyone who thinks the fingerprint can be stolen and used for police matters is mistaken and seriously needs to do some research. (especially the LTKA site )


Oh how misguided can this headmaster be?

This fingerprinting system will not show the correlation between attendance and performance. It will show the correlation between being at the class room door and attendance.

There is nothing to stop the pupil scanning their fingerprint and the leaving to go to the nearest watering hole, where naturally, he will meet the well versed folks from el-Reg, learn all about technology and get himself an A* in IT.


And an observation from someone who clearly remembers his school days with some clarity:

For heaven's sake, have the developers never watched Star Trek? - there must be at least 3 episodes where A.N. crew member or A.N. Nefarious Individual deliberately leaves their com badge so that the ship's computer thinks that they are somewhere where they aren't. Avoid the scanner on the way in and get scanned on the way out so that it appears that you are still in the room. One alibi for skipping the rest of the day's lessons set up... Unless the system also features those scary little spider robots out of Minority Report (which I very much doubt), it seems doomed to subversion.


Theres somthing slightly sinister about this phrase:

"All the parents received a letter at the beginning of term asking them to contact us if they had any concerns. We had a couple of parents call...when we explained the procedure and the reasons why they were happy with that," said Bowden.

Did the parents get a choice of whether they were happy or not, or were they just sat down with the men in black and told they were happy!? time to start digging that 1984 proof bunker me thinks!

cheers Edd

So "It had cost the school £25,000." had it?

I wonder how long before the equipment needs replacing? I wonder if the supplier is shipping the prototypes on the cheap to establish a market. (That *is* the usual practice, isn't it?)

Do we have comparison costs of taking registers manually? At my schools, taking the register probably served as a useful "winding down" period, so I would guess that the time *lost* by taking the register manually was, er, nil.

Sadly, of course, the cost will be amortised by using the fingerprint database elsewhere and parents won't be asked about *that* because they've "already given their consent". Within five years, the police will have a fingerprint database of everyone between the ages of 10 and 20, with that upper limit rolling up year by year. And if the fingerprint technology proves unreliable, that's just a great opportunity to "back it up with" DNA technology instead.

It might be nice to live in a society where rapists necessarily leave proof of identity within the victim, but I think this ought to be a conscious decision rather than something that just ends up that way.


And yet the police are not permitted to interview a minor without a responsible adult being present... and cannot take fingerprints without arresting a suspect. If they did, I suppose they themselves would be in legal trouble.

Why then can parents of the children fingerprinted not ask the police to investigate this headteacher? He is apparently responsible for breaking the law. The approval of a government department (still less that of a commercial vendor) and the fact that parents were informed are both completely immaterial.

If I inform you that I am going to hit you over the head with a length og lead pipe, then do so, it is still a crime.


"the parents were perfectly happy"

I guess the same could have been said in 1936, when the Nazi parti came to power in prewar Germany. People were quite happy at that time also - they had been promised work and food, and they were going to get it. The fact that Hitler was going to invade, overrun and occupy most of Western Europe and some of Africa in the process was, um, collateral damage ?

Really I don't know what is worse : that a school director deems fingerprinting to be acceptable since nobody complains, or that his excuse is that some bureuacracy has approved it, so he didn't have to ask. Schooling has really hit rock bottom in the USA, and has apparently started to dig. It is not only Orwell that must be laughing his skull off, but much lesser films like that awful Fortress are literally on the verge of becoming prophetic.

All because of Political Correctness and basic ignorance. Even in schools. Now THAT is a scary thought !


Will fingerprints be needed to open the restroom doors, so that if a child has to leave the room the staff knows where they ACTUALLY are in case of an emergency? (What about the stalls?)

...Ooooh! Ooooooh! And can they get pressure-sensitive flooring in the halls, so they can know if the student is actually going to the restroom by the most direct path and not dawdling anyplace along the way?

And on the subject of fingerprinting; do all of the custodial, teaching ,and administrative staff (up to and includiong the Headmaster) have their fingerprints on file at the local police station? (It's for the safety of the children, after all...!)

And, you know... I'm not even going to start on the sort of unprincipled cynicism that would have children fingerprinting themselves for the convenience of the authorities on the "Vericool" system... It's just too depressing...


Click othrough to page two, and we'll entertain you with more identity revealing pranks, allegedly tasteless videos from the staffroom at the BBC and, obviously, buttplugs.

Is nothing sacred? Can't a bloke respond to a woman advertising herself as seeking casual sex without being plastered all over the web for all and sundry to see?

This has been done before.

Unfortunately I'm at work and can't search for it, but check out a Google for Captain Obvious. He did a similar thing, but caught people on their webcams. In one case, even managing to convince a guy to cover himself with cream and hold up a sign saying "Owned by Captain Obvious".


Id have to agree, if anyone was to press charges against this guy... then all they are proving is that the people who sue him... are total and complete idiots. So they won't.... because pride... is a far stronger thing than privacy. I'd have to give the guy kudos for his ability to prove his point. Honestly, if your stupid enough to release your contact information to a total stranger so quickly so willfully... well nough said.

I hope those employers are wise enough to fire their butts.... cause that is a total embarrassment. Want to talk about perversion? How about arresting the respondents for breaking the law under the attempted context... granted it was fictional.. but that should warrant at least some attention.

There's my 2 cents.


And since we're speaking of debauchery, what about those teenagers, eh? Can't live without their mobile phones...or their booze, fags and drugs.

"Psychologist Dr. David Sheffield got 100 students to fill in forms normally used to assess gambling addiction, and found that ... showed addictive behaviour."

I wonder what would have happened if the aforementioned had given the forms to 100 random persons picked on the street... something make me think that he would have got the same results...

"Apparently 90 per cent of the students said they took their mobile phone with them everywhere"

He...humm.... what's the point of a mobile if you leave it at home?

Is it me or those 'psycologist' have too much time on their hands? Maybe *they* should use their own phone a little more...

"Meanwhile the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is calling for ... increase in the legal age for smoking from 16 to 18"

Give them free sex, they'll quickly forget the fag.



Some psychologists do waste a lot of research time and money, don't they?

Maybe people ought to spend a few days walking round with no shoes on, just to make sure they're not addicted to footwear.


BBC staff made a video wishing a colleague farewell, spoofing once more the much spoofed "Amarillo" video. The colleague was leaving the Beeb for Al Jazeera. The video had people dressed up as Osama bin Laden and his henchmen (is that the right word?). You can see where this went...

I'm offended that licence payers' money will now be wasted in investigating this BBC leaving do skit. This could ruin the careers of a few people who have essentially done nothing wrong. All they did was celebrate an obviously well liked colleague's success.

I expect they'll all get a severe bollocking, or even sacked. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because it's the right thing to be seen to have been done. I hope they all flatly refuse to apologise and go on to bigger and better things.

I'd be astonished if a small proportion of the licence fee didn't get misappropriated in this way. Anyone who is shocked by this is a hideously idealist naive fool.


You were a bit wrong about that bbc spoof. That is not really bad. It is not even really awvul. It is so terrible that even a site like SomethingAwful.com would not even dare to place on its website for fear of being shut down once and for all for exceeding all civil norms!


It is so bad that our usually multimedia discriminating firewall let it pass through for fear of contaminating its /dev/null with the filthy bits and bytes of this video... The FW admins would hate me for months for having to manually extract the filth from that usually efficient black hole... ugh...


I can understand why this story is on your web site, the guidelines for what you cover in your entertainment section are well known but what I am writing to you about now is the total lack of brains in the person who first reported it to the London Evening Standard, and you can rest assured that I am letting the London Evening Standard know what I think of them for taking it further.

First, I am not a Muslim, neither am I a racist. What I am is totally outraged that someone sees fit to complain about something that was blatantly not for public consumption and would in my mind be about as offensive to Muslims as Eastenders would be to people from a certain part of London and as Spooks is to members of the Security Services! How can you find something like this tasteless when it wasn't meant for you or me to see? It's a leaving party gag, and if we must complain about this then I believe that you should be going to as many leaving parties as you can and seeing what ever so called tasteless things you can uncover.

Why on earth is everyone so sensitive these days anyway? Get a grip on reality all of you!


I was thoroughly entertained by the video. Who would have thought the BBC had such a sense of humour?


I bet their wishing they just went with the traditional 18" dildo and a tub of KY. Although I bet if they did a video ripping the piss out of George bush nobody would give a damn... hell they'd proberbly play it on some crap bbc 2 comedy half breed trash.

Matt D

Are you getting as PC as the rest of them?

Gawd help us when heads must roll is the only solution - I know let's send them to Iraq and get it done for free...

Or, did I miss some sarcasm somewhwere? Owen

Er, yes. the huge big buckets of it. But never mind.

I'm frankly disgusted.

What kind of lifeless pratt could be such a complete *wanker* as to complain about that? And to complain about wasting of licensepayers' money? I mean, hello, this thing must've taken a handful of hours of studio time and all the bored production engineers that the video's cast members could drum up from the murkier corners of the staff room. High budget it is not.

I'm honestly disappointed by the fact that somebody's such a complete wort as to whine about the pittance that is the cost of a few people exercising their senses of humour when pitted against, for example, the sums forked over to the BBC's worthless bloody executives.


And just when you thought the world couldn't get any weirder, environmentalists are issuing warnings about the dangers of sticking things up one's bottom. As ever, you cut to the core of the issue:

So greenpeace basically warn that the butt plugs shouldn't be used on infants, as the phtalates pose a risk to young children? Well, allright, I think that this news should thus not change anything for anyone (outside of Belgium that is).

Marvin the Martian

If you could have resisted the temptation to engage in some Eurotrash style mockery of people who use sex toys and had instead done a little research, you would have noticed that, like any sensibly designed anal toy, the Spectra Gel Anal Plug has a broad, flanged base to prevent it from getting stuck in the anal passage and thus ensuring that there no "posssible risk of ending up in hospital with a dildo stuck firmly up your jacksie" etc etc.

If you choose not to use such products, that is your own business, but please don't judge or mock others for having different sexual interests.


And finally, your thoughts on the censorship of a documentary about the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington because it has swearwords in it. Hundreds of dead people and mass panic would be fine, except for that...

If you want profane or lude material to air on tv why not suggest Showtime or HBO. That would be more appropriate. My FAMILY ( seems more and more people don't seem to know what these are!) doesnt want to see Crap on tv. So to summarize, if a show has Gore, Profanity, Nudity, Homosexuality, or Sex PLEASE keep it off regular tv and leave this for HBO & Showtime (or others like it) so people with morals and values can choose to not purchase the above. Oh and it is your right to want to see this and whatever you please. I just would like to have some rights every once in a while. I get tired of being persecuted because I believe differently than liberals, atheists, etc. Now be honest my request isnt all that crazy now is it? Or do you believe you should determine what should be on tv?


Rob, you always have the power to switch off if you don't like what is on, or flip to another channel. Perhaps take a deep breath and sit in a dark room for a bit?

I love America. If decency rules for TV were truly enforced, almost every program aired would be censored out and the networks shut down because there is barely a decent show on TV.

I am waiting for the Voice Dub Over version to come out so we can hear "Gee Whiz" and "Ack" at the inappropriate moments done in Gilber Godfried's voice so we can truly experience what a tragedy and travesty this whole PC BS from our strong 1st Amendment flogging Media estates has become.

I hope the offended affiliates offered some classic Barney episodes in lieu of this offensive content.


This is appalling.

The firemen gave their lives in their hundreds so thousands could live.

They are without doubt the bravest men and women on this planet. And even if the most pious of us where in a building that was on fire and cuming down round are ears I think a choice expletive or two would be ushered.

In fact in the case of a lot of people it may not get that far. Go in their and save them people. No. I swear when the cereal box falls on me in the morning, this was a whole building

Oh I'd like to complain that fireman dragged me from the burning collapsing building, but he swore while doing it really is unacceptable.

They ran in to danger so others may walk out.

So who exactly are we protecting by not showing self-sacrifice and bravery of the highest order. Surely the most noblest and greats gesture of are humanity


And on that uncharacteristically somber note, we'll wish you a good weekend. Back next week. ®