To the parents of children at Northam Senior High School.
URGENT! This concerns you and your children.
I am a parent of two daughters that attend Northam Senior High School. In recent months I have discovered that our children have had their privacy violated by unauthorized consent. The school has allowed the introduction of Biometrics which in our case is finger scanning, it is a tool for the accumulation of your children’s personal data and stored in a global data base called BioStore ultimately owned by FOX. This action is a violation of our children’s privacy and according to Privacy International the technology has no restrictions on standards in the biometric process, from collecting and retaining data as well as authorized access.
When I raised this issue at the school council meeting this month 12th2013, I was told that it was not a school council issue, and the PC has not responded. Our children’s finger prints have been collected when first entering the use of the library and the data will be placed in a centralised location that will allow access to the library, canteen, photo copiers, and learning tools on line and the list goes on. This may seem to be a convenient program which will be useful for administration, but your children have now come under surveillance and there is an absence of laws, flawed legal framework, which are failing to ensure the protection of basic human rights (Pirlot 2013).
‘Biometrics is the measurement of unique and distinctive physical, biological and behavioural characteristics used to confirm the identity of individuals’. The deployment of biometric technology is unregulated by law and fails to incorporate privacy and data protection standards in their procedures. There is a need to identify ethical impacts, the dangers of the amassment of data, and the considerations of cultural and social norms (Pirlot 2013).
Biometrics brings me to the other potential threat to the quality of your children’s education. Corporate funding might seem a good way to fund our school because of government cuts, but we must unite and oppose this idea, because if your school becomes corporately funded then this school is no longer independent and education will be directed into an industry labour workforce. Your children already have little choice and if this becomes more acute then this situation will become worse. I urge parents to act. Hold back your school fees until this matter is resolved. We may need to stage a parent student strike when going back to school. If you have first year students warn them not to give their finger prints or any other personal or family information in the form of seemingly harmless questionnaires, and I please urge you to refuse this invasion of yours and your children’s privacy. Please Google Biometrics, BioStore and find your own information. They say that you can opt out but you can’t because your child will not be able to access any learning materials without it. Biometrics is expected to leak out into the rest of society infrastructure, it is already used in airports, but if we can stop it now in our school we may be able to stop the flow on effect. Go to commondreams.org and see the protests taking place in the states. Our school is an experiment to see if we will accept this measure of civil control. Please pass this on to other parents and parents from other schools.
Reference: Alexandrine Pirlot, 14th of December 2013. Privacy International: Biometrics: friend or foe of privacy? Retrieved 19th of December 2013.
- FBI sued for selling Americans’ biometric data to private companies (mysecuritysign.com)
- Civil rights activists sue FBI for access to facial recognition technology records (mysecuritysign.com)
- Ignoring repeated warnings, Argentina biometrics database leaks personal data (privacyinternational.org)
- “No one knows how many schools are now using biometric technology like this because it seems that the…” (new-aesthetic.tumblr.com)
- Development and humanitarian aid initiatives enable surveillance in developing countries (privacyinternational.org)