Andrea Leadsom is the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for South Northamptonshire
Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying a group of students from Sponne and Campion Schools to the Houses of Parliament. But over our sandwiches afterwards, sitting on a wall in the drizzle of a cold Monday in Westminster, one of the students raised an issue with me that I found truly shocking.
He wanted to know if I thought that fingerprinting/iris scanning of children in schools might breach their Human Rights under EU legislation. I was surprised as, until he explained further, I was unaware that millions of our children are right now being required by their schools to have fingerprints or iris scans done in order to borrow a library book or buy their lunch.
How would you feel if the government suddenly passed a law that every adult had to be fingerprinted at their local police station? Yet schools it would appear have accumulated fingerprint or iris data on millions of children, some as young as three. And apparently often without their parents' consent.
My student friend told me that a member of his family working in security systems believes that with a few hundred pounds of ‘hacking’ equipment, it would be possible to sit in a car outside the school gates and collect all that data. The lifelong, permanently distinguishing data of children is at risk of being lost or stolen, and for what?
I really fear for the direction this country is headed in. There are so many examples of data being lost or stolen – collecting this permanent record of a human being should only be done for extreme reasons and certainly not for identifying whose library book is due back.
We risk the next generation growing up with an acceptance of cradle-to-grave state snooping and control, with all the errors and potential for identity theft that will ensue. What's more, millions of pounds of taxpayers' money must be being wasted on installing fingerprint/iris readers in schools.
Liverpool Council has rejected this recording of children. I will be writing to Northants County Council in the hope that they will do likewise.
We shall be watching for the results of Andrea's campaign with great interest. If you want to oppose fingerprinting in your school, get in touch with Big Brother Watch, or with the excellent Leave Them Kids Alone campaign.