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UK to schools: no biometric readings on minors without consent

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The British government has advised that schools will not be able to use students’ biometric data unless parents consent, reports politics.co.uk.

The government’s advice, released on Tuesday for consultation, was updated to include items from the newly enacted Freedoms Act 2012. This new advice will take effect in September 2013.


This ruling may prevent schools from using biometrics for functions such as attendance tracking, library access or processing cashless payments. It results from parents being upset over schools using their children’s personal data without permission.

The new legislation says that students under age 18 will need written parental consent in order to allow this type of data usage. Schools will also need to follow the principles in the Data Protection Act.

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Biometric data of more than 7,000 students has been obtained by secondary schools in Cornwall, United Kingdom, according to the Cornish Guardian.

In total, 12 schools have collected fingerprint data of their students using electronic scanners since the technology first came into use nearly ten years ago; these figures indicate that more than a third of secondary schools in Cornwall are using the technology.

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The much-publicized biometrics bill in the state of Florida – SB 188 proposed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange – has passed through he House without any additional amendments. The bill awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature before becoming law.

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The use of biometrics in schools is a hot-button issue, and one that raises significant concerns over the privacy and civil rights of young people. When conducted without the express consent of students – and more importantly their parents and guardians – the results can be disastrous. Just ask the folks at the Polk County School District.

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The use of biometrics in schools is once again the topic of debate in the Florida legislature, with lawmakers considering a proposal that would prohibit school districts from collecting biometric information – including fingerprints, handprints, iris and voice.

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