Fingerprint my kid, please...
...Oh, that's right you don't actually need my permission, Mr Headmaster.
Because schools can already fingerprint your child without parental consent, without prior warning or without even letting you know about it. In fact it is already happening in hundreds of schools up and down the country.
For what? I hear you ask. Have thousands of school kids been breaking the law? No, they only want to use the library. In a costly, nationwide scheme, school libraries are replacing 'old-fashioned' barcoded library cards with a new biometric card. One that requires your child to have their biometric ID recorded and stored. This includes fingerprints and mugshots and personal information about your own child.
Andy O'Brien, managing director of Micro Librarian Systems which makes the fingerprint systems insists that they "have never had a single parent object to it, the children love it and it solves the problem of lost library cards."
Oh so that's why the government is implementing this million pound project...to solve the problem of lost library cards. And here's me thinking it was to soften up society's next generation for when Britian becomes a biometric battlefield.
Andy O'Brien should read up on campaigners Leave Them Kids Alone's website, he will find hundreds of objections from angry parents who sadly, have only found out about this initative becasue thier child has come home and told them, "Hey Mum, guess what? I was fingerprinted today!".
As Phil Booth of NO2ID rightly says: "Are we sending our kids to school or to prison? We wouldn't accept fingerprinting for adults without informed consent so it is utterly outrageous that children as young as five are being targeted."
And you have to ask the question, if this was all so innocent, why not just inform parents? Why not request their permission? Are children as young as five really capable of making this informed choice themselves? Or will they, like most infants their age, simply do what their teacher asks them to do?
There is growing concern that schools have been underhanded in their approach to this initative. With reports of teachers telling children "now we're going to play the game of spies, there's no need to tell your parents as it's just a game," before they line them up to have their biometrics scanned and mugshot taken, it's no wonder parents feel a sinister agenda be may lurking beneath the surface. And with teachers claiming it purely 'optional' but pupils complaining otherwise, lack of trust between schools and parents is growing by the day. One parent complained that "Without providing a fingerprint, children are prevented from using the PCs to do their home work (for which they are then threatened with detention if they miss)."
Several schools are now already using the fingerprint system to allow pupils access to and from the school grounds and canteen. How long will it be before this process becomes compulsary anyway? Soon the 'harmless' biometric library card will become a junior biometric ID card, implemented alongside the National ID cards which the government plans to put into force in 2008.
If like many other hundreds of parents you object to this shocking breach of civil liberaties towards our most innocent memebrs of society, you can pledge your support or write to your MP via campaigners Leave Them Kids Alone who have a shocking list of the hundreds of schools who use biometric related systems. They estimate the total number of schools to be 3500, and will have a full list by Janurary 2007. Sadly, if you find your child's school is on this list, there is a good chance they have been fingerprinted already. Ask them. You may not be prepared for the answer.
NO2ID also fully back this campaign. For more information, please visit their offical site.