Sunday, June 17, 2007

Have that child tagged, scanned and printed.

The need for this government to nationalise people, socialism having failed to Nationalise commerce moves up a gear if this report in the Independent today is anything to go by.

Schools will be able to place fingerprint scanners at the entrances to classrooms, the school gates and even in cafeterias.
Fingerprint and eyeball scans would make it easy for schools to track children during the day, and tell if they are playing truant, or even what they have eaten for lunch.

This is so wrong in so many ways I do not even know where to start. There are the basic problems of security flagged up by organisations like Liberty,
"We have some serious concerns that this biometric data is being collected from children simply for administrative convenience. We want to know what happens to the data after the children leave. The police have the right to get into any database, private or public."
Meanwhile the Lib Dems make a fair point,
Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said she was concerned that hackers could access sensitive data and steal children's identities. She questioned whether schools would be able to erase the data when children left school.
This is a serious concern, as schools systems are really not designed to cope with the security needed to protect such sensitive data. My guess is that after the first few data thefts, where criminals have been able to use ID data stored on schools internal kit, the Government will, for our children's safety you understand, demand that all the individual school databases should be collated into one centralised national database where the information could be protected against unwonted use.

The article also rather skates around the issue of consent. Early in the piece we get this,
"The guidance will say that personal data, including fingerprints and eyeball
scans, can be collected from pupils and used to monitor attendance, so long as
schools consult parents first and do not share the data with outside bodies".
Which sounds positive, but what does consultation mean. Consultation is a word that has been stripped of its meaning under the current government. Consultation sounds all very third way, but it is meaningless, unless the consultation allows for dissent, or more importantly for a change of policy. In this case it no such changes are envisaged.
it is understood that schools will not have to gain written permission from each arent before their child's fingerprints are taken. The guidance, written by Becta, which advises the Government on the use of technology in education, will go out to schools and further education colleges.
At 5! For pities sake whose children are they? The schools? The governments? No they are until they reach the age of maturity their parents responsibility. After all the Government is floating the idea of charging parents who allow their children to get to fat. Well done Ulrike for pointing out how monstrous this idea is in today's NoTW.

And the minister, blasé, controlling statist that he is, Jim Knight comes up with this,

Jim Knight, the schools minister, said he wanted "parents to be fully engaged with every aspect of their children's education - this will be at the heart of our guidance.

"I back every headteacher's right to choose technology to improve their day-to-day running - but it's plain common sense for them to talk to parents about this and all other issues relating to their pupils. Schools need to collect pupil personal information... But we are clear that they have to comply with data protection laws. This means that no outside organisation can access any information."

What nobody here seems to ask, is what on earth do they think they are doing? Not minor (but serious) details governing security and consent. I mean what on earth do they think they are thinking when they assume it is a good, nay necessary idea to collate all this information in the first place. Children are people. In the fist test case involving a child refusing consent the child was refused access to the school library.
Comply with Big Brother or you education will be curtailed.

The point is, if teachers were given more responsibility, and they were trusted to think more then the problems being noted by use of this technology could be dealt with. But Oh no, we cannot allow professionals responsibility. They have to be watched, checked, demeaned and treated like children themselves. A simple lesson I learnt many years ago.
Give people responsibility, they live up to it. Refuse responsibility they behave like children.

Oh did I mention that much of the drive for this is from the EU, surprise.

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