Aside: (Don’t forget to read our post on Sexual Harassment in Schools here)
In July 2005, I was to travel to the UK. Then day before I was to leave the London blasts happened.
A few days ago, the day Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister, blasts rattled London yet again.
Security was raised to ‘Critical’ status and again reams of newsprint were devoted to finer intelligence gathering, national security and a consequence of this, a loss of privacy. Fingerprinting of citizens has been debated around the world since 9/11 happened six years ago, and to date remains unimplementable because of the huge public outcry against it.
I was surprised then to know that in the UK, increased security, lower ID costs and quicker queues in libraries and canteens have been driving a nation-wide finger-printing exercise at schools, in many cases, withour parental consent. Schools have been implementing this, led by governmental mandate and subsidy carrots.
I want to point you to a post on this by Jonathan Calder who writes:
“Schools maintain databases (mirrored on government servers) store 300 bytes of data that form a map of each child’s fingerprint. So you can see the danger that children’s data will be stolen or haunt them years later.”
“… they are silent on parental consent. Many of the 3,500 schools took prints without consent. Children as young as five have had their dabs taken on the pretext of a game of spies.”
Two different worlds in the same country. Weird.
Further Reading: Have a look at “Leave the Kids Alone” – a UK website against government fingerprinting in schools. They present comprehensive data, though, quite obviously it has a strong anti-fingerprinting bias.
They rally against fingerprinting for the common reasons: irreversible identity theft and children losing value of their ‘identity’.
A YouTube video on their site calls Fingerprinting a Social Control Experiment- very Orwellian, very 1984. A little grave for my taste, but worth a watch.
As far as I am concerned, I wonder why fingerprinting is necessary at all- at least for cutting queues and issuing library books. Why can’t the school just use plain smart cards? Provide incentive for keeping the cards safe (and lowering re-issue hassle) by tagging a high cost for a duplicate card.
However, if fingerprinting were to come to ID and some men in robes turned up to ID my kids, i’d probably say yes. After all, the next time they travel to the Unites States, Uncle Sam will ID them anyway. Better our government then theirs.
(image courtesy: rit.edu)