Wednesday, 7 February 2007

UPDATE: British tyranny marches on

Last week I reported that schools had been taking fingerprints of children without the permission of the parents and storing them on databases. Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland has raised the issue and forced the Government to issue guidelines to schools (which had previously been operating in a regulatory vacuum) but the practice continues. Lewisham Cllr. Brian Robson informs me that at least one Lewisham School is among the offenders.

I wrote to the Office of the Information Commissioner last week to check whether this was a breach of data protection legislation. Amazingly, they have told me that the Data Protection Act does not apply because “…biometric data is not considered to be personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998.” What can be more personal than my unique fingerprints (except, perhaps, my innermost thoughts) I do not know. The map of my DNA, perhaps?

Perhaps, but this too is not covered. Apparently, “when the school takes the finger print, the system changes the image into a series of numbers which you couldn’t use to identify an individual”, and as such it is not protected. That these numbers could be decoded to reproduce a unique fingerprint did not appear to be relevant or of concern to Data Protection Case Reception Unit.

Maybe this explains the Government’s insistence that it can keep the DNA records of children, even when they have committed no crime, and add them to its new central database.

Winston Smith is turning in his unmarked grave!

No comments: