back to article Becta gives schools biometric data guidance

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 …


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  1. The Cube

    Interesting opinion from the Information Commissioner

    "Biometric systems, says the guidance, are designed to validate a pupil's identity and should not hold any other data." "Under the Data Protection Act 1998, schools can only use biometric information for the express purpose for which it was collected."

    So how come our spineless Information Commissioner was not around to tell the government these little nuggets about the ID card system?

    "But we are absolutely clear that they have to comply with data protection laws. <snip> and it must be destroyed when a pupil leaves their school."

    Ha Ha Ha, like DNA samples the Police have taken to 'eliminate people from enquiries' are destroyed? Or maybe in the way that people arrested unlawfully are removed quickly and efficienctly from the PNC? Maybe it will be like the way that the congestion charging cameras, digital speed cameras that take a picture of every vehicle passing and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems are only being used for their intended purpose and the data not held indefinitely as part of an illegal surveillance system.

    I really can't see Ian 'jackboots' Blair resisting the temptation to get his sticky fingers on all this biometric data. Just think of all those 'potential criminals' he could get the jump on, all he needs is some excuse to use the data once and then just not delete it....

  2. Nano nano

    Horse for course

    I would hope that only "biometrics" (key parameters) of the (e.g.) fingerprints would be held, and not images of the prints themselves; also, protected with a site-specific key.

    This would render them of little use to a third party.

    I would also not expect the system employed to be configured to allow "trawling" if its express purpose is authentication - "is this person allowed in this area ?"

    But then again the Govt. doesn't "need to know" where we have been driving in order to charge for road use, but the proposed schemes all involve recording our movements.

  3. Peter Fielden-Weston


    take the little bu88ers down to the local vets and have them 'chipped'. that'll identify them.

    Have them fitted with anti-bark collars at the same time, give me a little peace while I write to the papers.

  4. CJ


    If you want to see what the technology that the schools are using is like, buy a £10 finger print recognition usb device. The information is 1 way and it doesnt store pictures of the fingerprints.

    CJ (ex-school Network Manager)

  5. Malachy

    What is the point?

    Cube stole some of my thunder here, but, as stated do we really belive that this data won't be used for any other use?

    And also the amount of money that these systems will cost would be huge. Knowing government tenders (NHS system anyone?), this will be a disaster. Plus, the only uses they've stated is to:

    speed up lunch queues - how exactly? Knowing how effective biometrics have been so far, imagine how many '404 - fingerprint not found' msgs kids will get. Plus how is a kid going to get his lunch if the computer decides its not him?

    remove the stigma of school meals - I didnt remember anyone giving a crap about that in school, and surely an effective anti-bullying policy would deal with the matter more effectivly than a large IT project (and cheaper).

    speed up register taking - how long does it take to read out a list of names?

    prevent access - give me a break! If people want to get in they will. Grab a first year, march him to a door and grab his finger, end of.

    Basically some people have attended some seminars saw lots of flashing lights and thought:" that would be so cool". Plus who is going to pay for it, the schools themselves, or will it come from the education budget (all 10p) as a whole? This is such a bad idea i dont know where to begin.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re Reality

    One way and doesn't store fingerprints. What does it do with them? Presumably checks whether they match something - which is a fingerprint or some good hash of a fingerprint. That has to be created at some point and stored, or there isn't anything to check against when your one way doesn't store £10 usb fingerprint recognition scans a finger.

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