Schools banned from using pupils biometric data with consent

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Biometrics enhance site security but raise issues of civil liberties.
Biometrics enhance site security but raise issues of civil liberties.

Schools will not be able to use pupils' biometric data without parental consent, according to new advice being put forward by the government.

The move, which was outlined in the coalition agreement, may put the brakes on institutions using the data to record attendance, grant access to libraries or process cashless payments.

"Biometrics in schools is a sensitive issue. We want schools to be in no doubt of their responsibilities when it comes to young people's personal data," schools minister Nick Gibb said.

"I have heard from many angry parents after they have learned that their children's personal data was being used by schools without their knowledge.


"The new legislation gives the power back to parents, as it requires parental consent before the information can be collected."

The new advice, which was launched today for consultation, will come into effect in September 2013. It has been updated to take into account measures in the Freedoms Act 2012, which recently became law.

The advice allows pupils as well as parents to object to their data being taken by biometric systems such as fingerprinting or facial scanning.

All pupils aged under 18 will need written parental consent before their data can be taken and the use of the data must comply with the principles in the Data Protection Act.

Where the child or parents have refused consent, alternate means of accessing the service in question must be provided.

While the outline of the advice has already been decided, the consultation allows schools give their input on how to introduce the new system with minimum disruption and cost, Education Department officials said.
 

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