UK kids have the right to opt out of school fingerprinting (even if their parents are OK with it)


Why are children treated like criminals?

Though I think that it’s a terrible idea to collect biometric data of innocent children, I suppose that since a minor ought to have to comply if the parents wish it. However, I’m a little concerned that the collection of biometric data requires the consent of only one parent - I could see that being an issue.

Still, have you seen the rest of what this did?

[quote]-The reduction of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days

  • DNA samples and fingerprints of more than 1m innocent [acquitted] people deleted from police databases
  • Thousands of gay men able to clear their name of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts[/quote]
    Isn’t this new regulation good, overall? You’re focusing on a comparatively minor downside.

Also, I could see how children being allowed to opt out may make sense: if you’re 10, and your DNA gets collected as per parent’s consent (and you can’t opt out), your DNA will still be on record when you’re an adult. Once you reach adulthood, can you demand that all of this data be deleted?

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Now if this was America, the school board would go right ahead and do whatever the hell they want. Especially if somebody well-connected owned a biometrics company, but even without financial incentive, they might think this move in some way ensures the kids’ safety.

And then some liberal or libertarian parent would sue, and win, and it would cost the county many thousands, perhaps millions. And a few police and firemen would be laid off, and maybe the public librarian, and we would tell ourselves the county is broke because of the bad economy.


I originally read this as “fingerpainting”, and thought “OK”. Then I read it again and thought “WTF?” (Ominously, auto-correct insists on replacing “fingerpainting” with “fingerprinting”.)

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We did this when I was in elementary. In the USA, though, back in the 80’s. It was part of a program to “help identify your child in case of abduction” and whatever else BS like it. I don’t remember if my parents had to agree to it or not.

I guess high-profile crimes are out of the question for me.

Also an act called “Protection of Freedom” would most likely mandate fingerprinting of children rather than prevent it.

What on earth are the schools collecting fingerprints for?

I can see photographs of children’s faces as a useful biometric for schools to collect - you could keep photos on file with the kid’s medical info, so if someone has to leave in an ambulance the paramedics can confirm they weren’t handed the wrong kid’s allergy info in the panic. Maybe pass them along to a tour guide or something so they can see which children are supposed to be in the tour group, and identify a kid who’s gotten swapped with another group even though the counts are right.

But fingerprints? What use could they possibly have for them?

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Yeah, I was a bit baffled by this too - looking it up it appears to be not ink-based fingerprinting for a criminal record check in the future, but biometric systems which use fingerprints for library checkout, locker open/locking, etc. Not nearly as bad, although the data is obviously still co-optable unless it’s a closed system.

And the DNA swabs?

Because Schools are run like prisons.

My first thought was that the school would use fingerprints to find the perpetrators of petty acts of vandalism or theft. Because, you know, a kid stealing something out of another kid’s lunch or leaving the tap running in the bathroom should warrant a thorough investigation.

Payment, probably. Such schemes are used in German schools which are staring to offer meals in cafeterias since a couple of years. (German schools didn’t offer services in the afternoon, as a general rule.)

Meals are opt-in, though, and children can identify themselves using their fingerprint.

And yes, that’s overkill (with lots of collateral damage) for a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

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What DNA swabs? The Act talks about DNA swabs in general, but not when referring to schoolkids; the articles don’t mention DNA swabs… not sure what you’re asking?

Hm, you’re right. Sorry about that.

I read a little while ago that students were getting cheek swabs too. I’ll see if i can find a source.

I can’t find anything mentioning DNA testing of students in the UK. Maybe I’m crazy. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

It looks like in this case, the regulation is specifically intended to address

quote information about the skin pattern and other physical characteristics or features of a person’s fingers or palms,

(b) information about the features of an iris or any other part of the eye, and

© information about a person’s voice or handwriting.[/quote] Source.

And I guess that fingerprint, eye, and voice ID could each be used for ID verification for taking out library books, opening lockers, et cetera.

Still creepy though, if you ask me.

Also: the regulation states that the information collected is collected for use with a biometric recognition system, but is very broad about the definition of a biometric recognition system. It sounds like (as far as the bounds of this regulation go) the data collected may be used by any automated system which can use that data to verify ID. It doesn’t limit it to school use or anything, as far as I can tell.

I was fingerprinted as a kid. Some musty smelling men in suits came and did everybody. Some kids even thought it was fun at the time (1976 or so, Canada), like being in a cop show. Later, in high school,I decided it had been an odd thing to for the authorities to have done. At that time I concluded that its sole possible use would be for future identification of criminals - and thus a mistrust of authority was instilled, and surely most intelligent kids would eventually come to some variation of that conclusion; that at the very least that it was unfair to the majority who never commit serious crimes. So there is a subtle, self-defeating tactic built into these kinds of moves.


I doubt the freedom to opt out will apply for children applying to the Home Office for indefinite leave to remain.

My 6 year old has to have his fingerprints scanned each pass through the UK border.


This is what it was when I was at school about 7 years ago. Basically, a biometric system (similar to laptop security) which was used for library checkout and attendance registration.

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“fingerprinting…is in widespread use in UK schools”

I’ve been a teacher in the UK for 37 years and in many different types of schools and I’ve NEVER heard of a child being fingerprinted.

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It’s been going on for years. Check out Slashdot: (2010) (2012)

Not the same, but related: (2007) (2013)