New provisions of the UK Protection of Freedom Act 2012 went into effect this September, which strictly limits the gathering of biometric information from children. Under the law, kids have the right to opt out of biometric collection (including fingerprinting, which is in widespread use in UK schools). Kids have this right even if their parents or school insist upon their submission to biometric collection. Needless to say, schools have done pretty much nothing to accommodate this legal right, and as Jon Baines points out, this is a great teachable moment for privacy conscious kids (in that they could teach their educators that privacy is worth something, even if you're just a kid).
if, at any time, the child—
(a)refuses to participate in, or continue to participate in, anything that involves the processing of the child’s biometric information, or
(b)otherwise objects to the processing of that information,
the relevant authority must ensure that the information is not processed, irrespective of any consent given by a parent of the child
Now, kids, you will have your own views, and some of you may approve of administrative systems which rely on the gathering, use and retention of personal information. You may think that the potential time- and costs-saving benefits are the most important factors at play. But some of you might well object, on perfectly reasonable grounds. You might be worried about what might happen if, for instance, this information fell into the wrong hands, or was simply kept too long, and was misused to your detriment. You might even object in principle to this sort of private information being used in this sort of way, when there are less intrusive methods available.
And you might want to consider that, if sufficient of your classmates object, under what is an admirable and rather radical statutory scheme which gives priority to the wishes of children, then the whole purpose of having this sort of system (convenience and cost benefits for the school) might fall away.
The Kids all have Rights
(Image: PHOTO Tradewinds 090306-M-2510M-5891FingerprintLR, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 36122696@N08's photostream)
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