UK Schools banned from fingerprinting pupils without parental consent

The UK Department of Education has announced that schools will no longer be permitted to take pupils’ fingerprints or other biometric data without gaining parents’ permission.

I am a firm believer in the use of biometric technology to further public safety and efficiency.

However, a key consideration in the use of this technology should be proportionality; is the collection of such sensitive data justified for the benefit realised?

Biometric data by its very nature is sensitive and absolute assurance must be provided that it will managed, secured and used appropriately. Given this, the consent of those whose data will be captured should be sought, and the use of such systems should not be mandated without such consent (with caveats for government, law-enforcement and public safety deployments).

Minors, by definition, are unable to supply consent, so the responsibility to do so (or to withhold consent) must fall upon the parents AFTER they have been given the opportunity to ensure they are satisfied that their child’s data is appropriately safeguarded and all privacy concerns have been considered within the context of the benefit to their child.

I absolutely applaud this move.

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