I've been drawn further into the campaign to prevent biometric information being used by schools, on Tuesday I attended a briefing session for MP's with the aim to highlight the issues with adopting this technology in the context of school children. The BBC were present and did an article for BBC online..
What we as campaigners are increasingly finding hard to understand is how the department for education fails to understand the difference between data that has a relatively short validity and immutable data that last a life time ( I can't change my finger print)
For me one of the best quotes from Dfes with regard to schools holding biometric data is:-
"They are well used to handling all kinds of sensitive information to comply with data protection and confidentiality laws.
Schools have historically failed here; a forensic computer science faculty bought hard drives off ebay, and extracted school records (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/17/hard_drive_data/ ). A colleague also told me recently how he took a school computer out of a skip...Personally I don't condemn the schools here after all their primary focus is on education and not on securing personal information. In fact this is also the case in business the IT system the security are all additional burdens which do not enhance the core functionality of the business, it is seen as a necessary evil, and you often find these are given second or third rate priorities.
Information security can never be guaranteed and so we should therefore only gather the least amount of information required to perform our function. Software engineers have been aware of running applications with least privilege, thus limiting the risk that there application exposes to a system if it was to be hacked; even Microsoft is adopting this strategy at last with Vista. This therefore poses the question do schools need biometric information in order to educate our children? If the answer is no then it should not be used in schools...since this creates a further burden on a system which already showing signs of failing under the current security workload.