Scots Schools Impose Biometric Systems On Pupils

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A Liberal Democrat is expressing his concern over fingerprint ID systems used in some Scottish schools

The Liberal Democrats have expressed concern over the practice of school children having to use fingerprint recognition systems in Scottish schools

Hundreds of children in 68 schools routinely use the biometric identification systems to gain access to school libraries or pay for dinners, according to a Freedom of Information statement request from the Scottish Lib Dems.. One school uses palmprint pads for access to toilet facilities.

Lib Dem Justice spokesman Robert Brown said, “If the vast majority of Scotland’s schools can let children move round the premises and pay for their lunch without biometric identification, it is difficult to see how it is necessary for these 68 schools.”

Condemnation Without Detail

Specifications of the biometric systems in use have not been released but Brown is concerned that it may involve the storing of personal data. Brown said, “Public bodies have shown in the past that they are not always to be trusted with sensitive personal data.”

His concerns may stem from a miscomprehension of what the devices actually store. If the palmprint device is just measuring the size of the hand rather than the actual print details, no data will be stored. Also, Brown accepts that the fingerprint systems do not store physical data but a template of the print lacking in detail.

On the subject of biometric IDs in schools, a Scottish government spokesman, quoted in The Herald, said: “Any local authority or school seeking to introduce them should consult parents at the relevant school, seek consent and allow opt-outs.”

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar told the Scotsman newspaper: “This is the introduction of Big Brother by the back door as, potentially, it could allow the state to justify widespread use. It almost normalises [biometrics use] and allowing its use in schools, where it doesn’t really harm anyone, allows them to say it’s in schools already and widen its introduction.”

The fear is that the normalising of ID systems in this way would reduce resistance to their introduction in other areas of life. The Lib Dems are concerned that this may lead to the acceptance of the national ID cards they have eliminated as part of the coalition government.

Brown concluded, ““Liberal Democrats in government have scrapped the invidious plans for ID cards. We really don’t want to see this coming in through the backdoor through Scottish classrooms.”

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