Not-a-U-turn victory

The Reg publishes a story claiming that the government has U-turned and decided to offer advice to schools about how they may or may not introduce biometric technolgy in schools. The DfES deny a U-turn however. They say that they were always revising and improving its guidance. Who is right? It’s a six of one and half a dozen of the other situation although I’m going to bank it as a goal for backbench pressure anyway. On November 8th, Jim Knight responded to one of my questions claiming that “Schools and local authorities are responsible for deciding their own policies relating to information about children which they wish to hold and use” He went onto say that they only issued guidelines about the legislative position. In a Number 10 response to our petition, on December 21st, they said “The Department for Education and Skills does provide guidance for schools and local authorities on data protection and the security of personal data which would include Biometric data. However we are currently working with the British Educational and Communication Technology Agency (Becta) and with the office of the Information Commissioner to update the guidance including around the use of Biometric technologies.”

You can only assume from those answers, that back in November the Department were not working with Becta and the office of the Information Commissioner to update guidance, otherwise he would have said that in the answer. There was no reason not to say it anyway. A small and relatively uneventful victory, but victory nonetheless. Next we have to ask them to consult on the draft guidelines, rather than delivering them as a done deal to schools and parents.

2 comments ↓

#1 Glyn Wintle on 01.14.07 at 1:27 pm

Pippa King and ARCH both agree that it is just a step forward not a U-turned and the Sun describing it as a ‘victory’ is rather over-egging it.

Do you think the government will issue guidelines to schools without any parliamentary debate or public consultation?

#2 Pippa on 01.14.07 at 3:15 pm

I agree – issuing guidelines to schools without any parliamentary debate or public consultation would be completely inadequate – there needs to be an extensive and open debate involving the use of biometric technology with children.

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