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Anger over fingerprint book scheme

Lancashire Evening Post | October 7 2006

Lancashire's headteachers today hit back at claims new fingerprinting technology which allows pupils borrow library books is a breach of civil liberties.
Central Lancaster High School, Hornby High School, and Garstang High School are among the schools to sign up to a new venture which uses electronic fingerprint technology instead of library cards to allow pupils access to the school library and to borrow books.

The scheme has caused controversy after Green Party County Coun Chris Coates branded the move a "crazy Big Brother solution".

He is concerned that the fingerprint data could be stolen by computer hackers and said many parents are unaware their children are being fingerprinted.

And two weeks ago campaigners from NO2ID turned up at a Preston school to protest over the scheme.

But today headteachers said they have had no problems with the system.

Michael Collins, of Longridge CE Primary, Berry Lane, Longridge, who are no longer using the technology because it was incompatible with their computers, said: "We had no problems with the technology at all, it was quite successful. We had no adverse comment at all from parents. In fact, most of them thought it was a great innovation."

The system, which is estimated to be used in more than 3,500 schools across the country, has provoked anger among some councillors and human rights campaigners.

Coun Coates said: "This seems to be a crazy Big Brother solution to a minor problem I can't see any justification for fingerprinting five-year-olds.

"It is nice for children in the classroom to have James Bond style gadgets but it could transform into a Minority Report form of identification.

"My main worry is that some of the heads of schools and central government have implemented it, without discussions at county council level about civil liberties in years to come."

A spokesman for human rights group NO2ID, said: "Are we sending our kids to school or to prison?"



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