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View Full Version : UK Schoolchildren are being secretly fingerprinted. It could happen in the US too!


Ned
04-09-2007, 10:27 PM
This could as easily happen here in the US as in the UK folks. From many points of view this is really scarely that UK schools and governments are doing this, and trying to often do it secretly, and without reasonable safeguards, and for unimportant purposes.

Are you as alarmed as I am that this could happen in the US?

Schoolchildren to be fingerprinted in Big Brother-style shake-up (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=447420&in_page_id=1770)
By JAMES SLACK - April 9, 2007

Up to 5.9million children face having their fingerprints taken by schools in another move towards a 'Big Brother' society.

Pupils will have to hand over their biometric details simply to borrow library books or gain access to school dinners.

A million children's fingerprints are believed to have been taken already, some without parental approval and even by 'con tricks' such as pretend spy games.

Freedom of Information data obtained by the Tories reveals a further 4.9 million sets of prints could now be added to school computers after the vast majority of local education authorities sanctioned the practice.

Critics say it is part of a 'softening-up' exercise to condition children to accept a creeping surveillance society. They also point to the danger of identity theft, if hackers manage to access school databases.
Phil Booth, of the NO2ID campaign, said: "This is an abrogation of moral duty. Schools should be teaching children to look after their biometric information.

"They are going to grow up in a world where keeping it secure is enormously important, yet they are being taught that it is OK to hand it over for the most trivial of matters. It is a disgrace."

He added the Government could ultimately seek access to huge amounts of sensitive information by the 'back door'.

More than 3,500 schools already use systems which allow pupils to take out books by scanning their thumbprints instead of using a card. The technique is also being used in dinner queues...

...The Tories say that, in some cases, it is being done without parents' permission. Last month, it emerged a primary school headmaster had persuaded pupils to give their prints by pretending they were playing at being spies.

He reportedly told youngsters at Ghyllside Primary School in Kendal, Cumbria, it was 'just a game ... so there's no need to tell your parents'. The prints are used to operate the school's new library system...

...Mr Green said: "Schools use fingerprints as security for libraries, and sometimes to allow access to canteens. If parents have given permission, this is acceptable, but only on strict conditions that every school should follow..

...Participating schools, however, insist there is nothing 'sinister' going on, and that fingerprints are destroyed when the child leaves. They insist it makes libraries a 'cool' place to visit.(Before posting this on Tripso I looked for alternate sources concerning this issue. I found 6 mainstream news sources from the UK, including the BBC reporting similar stories)

jfrenaye
04-10-2007, 05:12 AM
I am not all that upset with the program. On one end you have technology that is asking for it--fingerprint scanners, etc. I have one of them on my laptop--but I cannot figure out how to use it. The fingerprint is one of three ways to identify someone--retinal scanning, dental records, and fingerprints--that is unique to an individual. And DNA I guess.

With the preponderance of child abductions, and so forth, I am not opposed. I do not like the big brother aspect of it, but I think in today's world, a certain amount of big brother is inevitible.

Police stations across America routinely fingerprint children. Parents can come in at any station at any time to have it done. They also have many safety days where the service is available.

tdew
04-10-2007, 06:08 AM
I agree with John. The only problem I have with it is that parents were not notified and given the opportunity to opt out - even if it meant that the kids would not be permitted to participate in different programs.

In these days of identity theft, I'd welcome having definite proof that I am who I say I am - proof that no one else could make use of.
I wouldn't object to either fingerprint or retina scan for atm transactions, credit card purchases and such.

Ned
04-10-2007, 07:17 AM
John, T. you both make excellent points.

We had both of our kids first footprinted, then when they were four, fingerprinted. We did it with the Philadelphia Police. They were in a nationwide program, along with other major metropolitan police departments, which use their database, now computerized, but not computerized then, specifically for child abduction. Soon after their 18th birthdays the police returned the original cards to us, and deleted their records from the computer database. That's part of the system.

We're clearly all for that. The database is secure, or at least as secure as you can make it. Only specific uses can be made of it by the police. Outsiders can't gain access, while of course theoretically they can hack in, the police are pretty good at protecting the data.

In the case of the schools, however, I see real problems. First and foremost in the UK, in almost half the schools doing the fingerprints, there was no parental permission, and until this story broke, no knowledge of it by parents. According to testimony before members of the House of Commons, the fingerprint databases in most of the schools have virtually no protection from theft. The files themselves are encrypted, however, they said it wouldn't be particularly hard to break into the computer and steal the files. Finally, these databases aren't being shared with the police, who could use them in child abduction cases, they're being used frivolously, in my opinion, for dispensing lunch (to make sure the kids get lunch, and don't go through the line twice) of for taking out a library book.

Kairho
04-10-2007, 07:53 AM
I cannot get myself all worked up about this, given all the other more important (to me) issues in life.

Didn't we all have our footprints taken at birth? (not that mine matches any more...)

jfrenaye
04-10-2007, 07:54 AM
So this is a debate about concept and implementation? Agreed Ned, the parents should have been involved, and certainly the data should be as protected as it can be.

But the more I think about it the more I almost like the concept.

DFWIC
04-10-2007, 08:02 AM
I'd only be upset if I was not allowed to consent to the procedure - but not the idea itself. With identity theft growing the way it is -- I don't see this as much as big brother but as a new security enhancement.

Then again -- my right to privacy did just disappear with the Patriot Act and associated legislation. Maybe I'm getting too complacent in today's era of giving up rights.

DCTravelAgent
04-10-2007, 09:47 AM
I have mixed feelings about this - we are pushing American parents to get their kids finger printed for safety reasons. And we, as in the US, are pusing for Biometrics on all Passports for visitors to our Country. Yet, the parents were not asked about this.....that bothers me a lot. Are these kids being finger printed at Eton? I'm wondering wether any of this is a "class issue"......

Kairho - many Hospitals footprint babies for the "unofficial" birth certificate that they give parents. It's more of a sweet gesture than anything else. I think the footprints rarely end up on the "official" BC or even in any official records.

wis_cheese
04-10-2007, 12:12 PM
:eek:
Nope, I don't like it either. How many stories of computers being broken into for data have you heard in the last year? Think about it... who has access to the data? What restrictions are on it? Is it encrpyted for privacy? Can your identity be used by someone else based on the data involved? Did anyone read about the credit card issue recently where the company knew their computers had been compromised and credit cards were being used and they decided not to inform the customers???

We all must protect our privacy. No one will do it for you.

Parents should have been notified first as well, to be able to opt out their children.

DCTravelAgent
04-10-2007, 12:35 PM
I would maintain that there is no such thing as "privacy" any longer. It started in the late 60s when DMVs across the nation began using SSNs as DL numbers - then schools began using them as ID #s, etc. The cat's already out of the bag, kids!

tdew
04-10-2007, 12:44 PM
:eek:
Nope, I don't like it either. How many stories of computers being broken into for data have you heard in the last year? Think about it... who has access to the data? What restrictions are on it? Is it encrpyted for privacy? Can your identity be used by someone else based on the data involved?
If we're talking about fingerprints - what could anyone else do with them?
Am I missing something? Even if someone broke into the computer and got ahold of my fingerprints, what could they do with them? Maybe make little rubber stamps that they can leave evidence that I've been somewhere? Am I going to have to start wearing gloves every time I go outside the house?

Ned
04-10-2007, 01:04 PM
We're talking about your fingerprint in a file like the AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems) used by law enforcement officials.

This can be used with other ID information to conterfeit and alter existing ID information in computer systems throughout the world, and to build an alias. It's just another chick in your ID armor.

The problem I have with the UK child fingerprinting is:

Parents need to know about it and give permission.
The fingerprints shouldn't be used for trivial reasons which put them out in unprotected environments for such items as library book lending, or school lunchroom attendance and eating.
The fingerprints can be valuable to law enforcement for child indentification purposes and child abduction. This is the non-trivial purpose which I registered my own children when they were still kids with their fingerprints.
There must be an enforceable mechanism that when the children reach the age of majority that the fingerprint records are expunged from the system.
The computer system(s) holding the data must be highly secure, which the school systems in the UK are not.Unless someone is following you with a fingerprint kit I wouldn't wear gloves.;)

If we're talking about fingerprints - what could anyone else do with them?
Am I missing something? Even if someone broke into the computer and got ahold of my fingerprints, what could they do with them? Maybe make little rubber stamps that they can leave evidence that I've been somewhere? Am I going to have to start wearing gloves every time I go outside the house?

NW CTC
04-10-2007, 11:30 PM
I'm surprised by the casual acceptance of this sort of thing; as Ned does, I find it deeply disturbing that children are being trained to accept biometric tracking as a normal, everyday part of life. I find this very chilling.

I don't care that I'm not doing anything illegal, immoral or embarrasing; the idea that one might be allowed access to food, funds and ideas without leaving a clear trail is something I associate only with intensely repressive regimes - or those which hope to have the means to control their subjects continuously and staunch any dissent from their programs.

Thank you for raising the issue, Ned.

tdew
04-11-2007, 06:19 AM
As I said in my first response, I don't like the fact that this was done without giving parents the chance to refuse it, but I still would welcome a method that would allow anyone who desires it - POSITIVE identification and eliminate identity theft.

DCTravelAgent
04-11-2007, 09:04 AM
If we're talking about fingerprints - what could anyone else do with them?
Am I missing something? Even if someone broke into the computer and got ahold of my fingerprints, what could they do with them? Maybe make little rubber stamps that they can leave evidence that I've been somewhere? Am I going to have to start wearing gloves every time I go outside the house?


Now haven't you ever seen a Mission Impossible re-run? They made the fake fingerprints ALL THE TIME!!!

;)

DFWIC
04-11-2007, 09:14 AM
I think my casual attitude has to do with the fact that I've basically had no other choice than to watch one liberty after another disappear the past couple of years. What are average people going to do -- have a Washington Finger Print Party? Ok so I tried to base it on the Boston Tea Party -- but you get the drift. These days the power soley sits in DC with the government - we the people have no voice, at least currently.

Maybe I need another cup of coffee -- I seem cranky. :huh:

DFWIC
04-11-2007, 09:17 AM
Or maybe I'm not paranoid -- I finished this post - went to MSNBC for some news and this is one of the first things I see

oy vey!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18046106/

Ned
04-11-2007, 10:10 AM
Oy vey is an understatement. I have absolutely no trust of these people, especially in light of prior transgressions and acts.

Gesualdo
04-11-2007, 01:24 PM
I would maintain that there is no such thing as "privacy" any longer. It started in the late 60s when DMVs across the nation began using SSNs as DL numbers - then schools began using them as ID #s, etc. The cat's already out of the bag, kids!

I suspect you're right about this, although the government is forcing these institutions to backpedal. Many states have a mandate that universities must being phasing out the use of SSNs for ID. I believe the federal government has mandated abandoning the use of SSNs for driver's licenses. Now if we can just get away from them for insurance purposes, etc. I put in an application with a temp agency once and one of their employees asked for my SSN when I called in available. Her excuse was "we do this because it's quicker." Except she was the only "we" in this scenario. She didn't get my SSN.

As for the whole fingerprint or no question, I have to weigh in on the side of it's okay as long as parents are asked for permission and that they know exactly what they're agreeing to. And I agree that school lunches and library books are very frivolous reasons to require them. The school has records of these students. Does the school really have some fingerprint matching software they can put to use in the lunchroom? Perhaps...but my common sense says they do not.

DCTravelAgent
04-11-2007, 03:47 PM
Too late.....

Ned
04-11-2007, 05:28 PM
G., I think the insurance industry won't be able to get away from them entirely.

Congress never intended for the SSN to be used as a default general identification number, but only recently has be putting specific teeth into the prohibition of the same, and actually spelling out restrictions. In other situations Congress has further mandated the use of the SSN. More on that below.

As you thought, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 prohibits states from displaying your SSN on drivers' licenses or motor vehicle registrations. The law only went into effect on December 17, 2005, and applied to all licenses, registrations, and state identification cards issued after that date.

Slowly but surely other uses, never intended by Congress are being eliminated. Many states are issuing their own laws regarding the use of SSN's in their states.

The SSN was envisioned by Congress to be used in all manners financial where there could be possible tax implications and retirement issues with the Federal government. In the case of the insurance company, for life insurance, there may indeed be tax and retirement consequences, hence the use of the SSN. For property insurance, auto insurance, etc., I would be surprised if the SSN isn't going to be phased out, but then again not for such items as annuities and other financial instruments which insurance companies have to offer.

Specifically, the Patriot Act requires financial institutions to verify customers' identities, which can involve the SSN.

I suspect you're right about this, although the government is forcing these institutions to backpedal. Many states have a mandate that universities must being phasing out the use of SSNs for ID. I believe the federal government has mandated abandoning the use of SSNs for driver's licenses. Now if we can just get away from them for insurance purposes, etc. I put in an application with a temp agency once and one of their employees asked for my SSN when I called in available. Her excuse was "we do this because it's quicker." Except she was the only "we" in this scenario. She didn't get my SSN.

As for the whole fingerprint or no question, I have to weigh in on the side of it's okay as long as parents are asked for permission and that they know exactly what they're agreeing to. And I agree that school lunches and library books are very frivolous reasons to require them. The school has records of these students. Does the school really have some fingerprint matching software they can put to use in the lunchroom? Perhaps...but my common sense says they do not.

DCTravelAgent
04-12-2007, 08:52 AM
Too late...........

Michgal
04-12-2007, 09:07 AM
Another thing about this that strikes me is the cost involved in setting this up - couldn't they put that money to better use ? A finger print scan to check out library books- how about purchasing more books for the kids to read instead?

Granted I don't have a clue if the school systems across the pond are in the same shape as many of ours are but it seems like a frivolous use of funds, unless of course their are other motives.

Jennifer