Pippa King

Raconteurs News No 176 with Pippa King on Facial Recognition

18 April 2018 Law and Courts Police Technology

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Raconteurs News No176.

Jason Holmes, Andy Young, Paul Webster.



A very welcome return to Raconteurs news.

If you have children or family members, I do recommend you listen to this programme in full, don’t miss a second.

Pippa King is a gold mine of information, and many of our people are totally unaware that facial recognition and all of the associated technologies are being used.

Pippa King, is a parent who had young children who were nearly fingerprinted in 2005 when they were 6 and 7 years old for a school library system.  After asking the Head Teacher when the school was going to obtain consent from parents she was told that the school did not need to ask her permission to take her children’s fingerprints. Pippa had received email alerts that this practice was going on.

This personal data can be passed to the police or any other authority without permission The UK Data Protection Act 1998 does not consider biometric data as Sensitive Personal Data and in order for schools to store and process a child’s Sensitive Data, parental consent must be sought.  As biometric data is not considered to be ‘sensitive’, schools could take a child’s biometrics without informing parents.

Another issue of concern is that young children do not question fingerprinting they just do it. A number of children have been sanctioned by school staff, because of their non compliance.

Children do have the right to refuse to give this personal data. The law is in the children’s favour; however this does not apply to adults. Children are being pressurised to give this data. Surely as parents we must have transparency and accountability. These youngsters are our children after all.

School staff are encouraging children to participate in this system. However there is no independent oversight. This system is invading young lives.

Children are the most data mined. The machine is able to learn a great deal about the child from when the child logs in to do their homework. “The machine knows” Pippa said.



Schools database should destroy any data they hold when the child leaves the school. The police can ask for fingerprint data, without any knowledge from parents. The schools are obliged to give this information when requested.

Pippa King campaigns vigorously, and still campaigns along with other parents, and privacy/civil liberties organisations, for parents to have openness and transparency from schools with an option to ‘opt in’ and for schools not to presume parental consent by (sometimes) offering an ‘opt out’.  Pippa King has tried to raise questions in ‘The House of Commons’ about this technology and its implications, and she learned that children were being fingerprinted in some schools as early as 2001.

The Protection of Freedoms Act was passed in May 2012 which requires, in chapter 2 clauses 26-28, for schools to gain written parental consent if they wish to store/process a child’s biometric data as of 1st September 2013

Pippa is a young mother who is rightly concerned over this technology. She has not qualified in law; she has had to work extremely hard to research this important subject. However she is worried about the effects this technology will have on young people. So where will this technology stop? How far will the authorities take it? The view is they won’t halt this once it’s been rolled out over the country.

This is definitely a ‘1984’ scenario. (Read the book, and view the film.) ‘Big Brother’ will certainly be watching you.

Only three police forces at this moment are using this technology. However this has been used at the Notting Hill carnival. The system is also racially biased and it is a flawed system as it cannot define correctly, people who have a darker pigment to their skin.

Facial recognition is supposed to be non invasive, so we are being told. They can start to profile you, on how you are feeling by your facial expression. And we can have no idea this is happening to us. Are biometric identity cards on the way for the next generation? This will invade all of our lives should this come to pass.

Please consider that in parts of China, these systems are more advanced so should you visit a toilet in a modern city, you will be required to comply with ‘Facial Recognition’ to receive only four sheets of toilet paper. Perhaps we may believe that this scenario could never happen in England. Pippa King has her doubts and is very worried. So should we worry too?

You can find much of Pippa’s work at her websites





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