HAMPSHIRE schools are to be banned from collecting pupils’ biometric data, including fingerprints, without consent.
It comes just months after the Daily Echo revealed parents and human rights campaigners were concerned about potential identity fraud and loss of personal privacy through having youngsters’ details stored on school files.
The Government has announced it is introducing laws to stop all schools and colleges in England from taking fingerprints, eye scans or using face recognition technology without parents’ prior approval.
Biometric data has been used in county schools to help speed up and improve school dinner and library services. As reported, at least five Hampshire secondary schools – Wildern School in Hedge End, Applemore College in Dibden Purlieu, Wyvern Technology College in Fair Oak and Chandler’s Ford schools Toynbee and Thornden – have installed cashless systems in their canteens.
Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill in Southampton also has the technology in place for school meals, while Oasis Academy Mayfield uses it in its library, as do some county primaries.
The schools insisted parents had been informed and the vast majority were happy with the systems, and no one has been forced to give information – which would not be shared with police and is destroyed when the child leaves school – if they don’t want to.
But one Hampshire parent said they were concerned information could fall into the wrong hands. The mum, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We have to give permission for photographs to be used but not for biometric data such as fingerprinting, which potentially would be far more damaging from a safeguarding perspective. “If the database was hacked, and we all know how easy hacking appears to be these days, this could cause long-term identity theft issues.”
The Department for Education said roughly 30 per cent of secondaries and five per cent of primaries in the country use fingerprinting or face scanning, but under the new provisions in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 parents must now give permission.