All 12 million kids in the country will have to be fingerprinted. Actually, that's not news â€” I wrote about it here. What's news (to me) is that parents will likely have no way to opt out on behalf of their children. They can't tell Little Nigel to tell the government's data-miners to shove it.
See if you can follow the logic here without gasping.
David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner, said it was a complex issue that was still being worked out, but it was likely that parents did not have an automatic right to decide whether their children's biometrics could be taken by a school.
“The Data Protection Act talks of consent of the individual â€” essentially that's consent of the child,” he said. “Now there's a requirement that consent is informed and freely given. That will depend on the age of the child,” he said. “The idea is that as long as children can understand the implications of what they are being asked to do, they can give consent without deferring to their parents. The Data Protection Act is about the pupil's rights, not the parents’ rights over the children's information,” said Smith.
Can a six-year-old understand the implications? A ten-year-old? A thirteen-year-old? It's doubtful, but somehow, the government is fully prepared to consider these pupils â€” and itself â€” to be more competent in such matters than the children's own parents.
Also note Mr. Smith's up-is-down government-speak when he spins the ominous legal requirement for children to surrender their biometric data as if it were a really a right â€” one that must be protected from the ignorant stubbornness of Mum and Dad.
Meanwhile, in the name of crime prevention, U.K. authorities are ordering citizens who visit clubs and pubs to get fingerprinted, too. No joke.
The government is funding the roll-out of fingerprint security at the doors of pubs and clubs in major English cities. Funding is being offered to councils that want to have their pubs keep a regional black list of known trouble makers. The fingerprint network installed in February by South Somerset District Council in Yeovil drinking holes is being used as the showcase. “The Home Office have looked at our system and are looking at trials in other towns including Coventry, Hull & Sheffield,” said Julia Bradburn, principal licensing manager at South Somerset District Council. Gwent and Nottingham police have also shown an interest, while Taunton, a town neighbouring Yeovil, is discussing the installation of fingerprint systems in 10 pubs and clubs with the systems supplier CreativeCode.
In order to qualify for a new license, a pub owner or club manager will have to promise to install a fingerprinting system. If, after the system is in place, customers fail to display a “considerable” reduction in alcohol-related violence, the drinking establishments could have their licenses revoked.
I'll make just a brief comment about both these issues.
I think the student should be able to refuse consent if she doesn't want to be fingerprinted, and the parent should be able to refuse it on her behalf as well. After all, the child should learn how to protect her self, though ultimate responsibility lies with the parent. Further as shown by Joy's “No scan, no eat” report, we need some way to prevent the bullying of children (and parents) into submission.
As for fingerprinting people on their way into pubs, all I can say is: Britain, get a grip! As a Canadian, it's like watching a loved one losing her mind.