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power shifts to parents over use of pupils’ biometric data

15 May 2012

The DfE are consulting on advice for using biometric data in schools and colleges following new measures contained within the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The advice states that schools cannot use biometric data (for example fingerprint identification and facial scanning) without first obtaining parental consent. The consultation closes on 3 August. The new guidance will come into effect in September 2013.

If parents (or pupils) don’t consent, the school must provide alternative means for accessing services. This will inevitably cause disruption for schools who rely on such data for recording attendance, granting access to libraries and processing cashless payments; some critics argue there are sufficient safeguards on the use of this information in the Data Protection Act.

Nevertheless, for many it as a welcome step forward, giving parents more rights in what happens to their children’s data. Schools will need to make clear how the data will be used to ease the process of obtaining the necessary parental consents.

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