Father bans school from fingerprinting daughter

(OxfordMail) – A father has refused permission for his daughter’s Oxford school to take her fingerprints – fearing it is step towards a ‘Big Brother’ state.Ben Emlyn-Jones’s daughter Louisa, 12, attends St Gregory the Great School in Cowley – which is planning to use fingerprint recognition software in its library.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Windale Primary School, Glory Farm Primary School, Matthew Arnold Secondary School and The Cherwell School currently use fingerprint systems in libraries and Cheney School uses the technology to register pupils.

10:12pm Wednesday 6th June 2007

Mr Emlyn-Jones said: “I am really quite disturbed about it, it reminds me of a Big Brother state.

“There may be advantages in having a fingerprint database, but the price you pay is too high.”

He refused to allow his daughter’s fingerprints to be taken and was also concerned that the school had not contacted parents.

He added: “It is as if they know it is wrong and have done it secretly, hoping no-one finds out.”

Mr Emlyn-Jones said he was opposed to the principle of biometric data being used by schools.

“Once people are on a computer then the world’s your oyster as far as the Government is concerned.

“It also desensitises kids. When they’re grown up and they apply for a passport and apply for jobs they won’t bat an eyelid about having fingerprints taken or a laser being shined in their eyes.”

This week, Liberal Democrats called for Government guidelines to be introduced to control the use of the technology in schools.

But Mr Emlyn-Jones said that would not satisfy his concerns.

He said: “Once the infrastructure is in place those guidelines could be abolished. That’s my concern.”

St Gregory the Great’s learning resources manager Hilja Bassett said the library system, which would be operational next term, was very efficient and secure.

She added: “It can only be used in this one place, in this one way, for this purpose.”

She said fingerprints were not stored, just certain data taken from the print.

Parents had been informed through a newsletter, she added, and pupils who did not wish to use the system could still make use of library services.

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