Pippa King talks to Richie Allen on his radio show:
When she became aware of a fingerprint scan in the school library, Pippa King asked the primary head teacher when she would be asked for her consent. She was told that consent was unnecessary. It alarmed her that schools were taking on the role of parents and making decisions about children`s biometric data.
Although there was a clause in the Data Protection Act covering sensitive data, it was out of date and had not managed to keep pace with technological advances. From 2006 to 2010 she lobbied parliament, alongside N2ID and other groups for a change in the law.
Pippa King explains that schools were sold the idea as part of the solution for less paperwork. Fingerprint scans could provide cashless catering, library books, registration and so on, and was an attractive proposition for schools pressed for time.
Adults are suspicious of the new technology and were fighting the introduction of identification cards at the time, but children are too young to work out the consequences of giving up their data. For instance, police can obtain this information and do not need to inform parents or children. It also sends out a concerning message to children that in order to eat, or to gain access to certain areas, they must provide their biometric data. Conditioned in this way, in twenty or thirty years time, bringing in an id card would probably present no problem for the government.
When the opposition parties came to power the law was changed and since 2013 it has been mandatory that schools must obtain parental consent before using children`s biometric data.
Corporatisation of education
Technology in schools is a billion pound industry. According to Pippa King parents have taken their eye off the ball. Companies admit that education is the most data mined industry in the world. There are programmes that scrutinise children`s faces to determine what they are paying attention to; there are programmes that study their emotions and analyse their every keystroke. If they wish to provide personalised learning perhaps this is necessary. But what is wrong with humans teaching?
Amey in Glasgow
In Glasgow, the multinational company Amey has a big construction contract for the next 35 years. That is a whole generation of data and nowadays there are the algorithms that can analyse it.