Friday, 18 September 2015

What do parents have the right to consent to on behalf of children?

Earlier this week I received a letter from school telling me that they want my kids' fingerprints so they can operate a cashless system in the canteen. My letter to the headmistress can be seen here:

The issue has been fermenting in my brain to the point that it woke me up at 5am this morning and caused me to write this email to Human Rights Watch's Joanna Nowak. I hope you find it interesting.

Dear Joanna,

Earlier this week I received a letter from my children's school stating that they are to implement a cashless system in the canteen, it said that they 'Require' their fingerprints to operate it. There is an opt-out available with a lower level of security, which I will be taking them up on.

I find the idea of harvesting biometric data from school children very disturbing for reasons which are set out in this blog post (a reproduction of my letter to the headmistress).

Since publicising this in my small way it has come to my attention that this practice is widespread and it occurs to me that, in addition to the concerns laid out in my letter, there is a human rights issue in relation to the right of the children whose parents consent to this practice. When those kids become adults they will have the right to withhold their fingerprints from the authorities except in certain circumstances, e.g. they are subject to a criminal investigation. If their parents have previously consented to their fingerprints or other biometric information having been taken whilst they were too young to give consent themselves then their right to withhold is effectively nullified. The State already has the information without their consent.

As my letter to school says, I do not impute any sinister motive to the schools in collecting this data but I believe that its very existence is very dangerous and that the school system has no right to collect such data in order to operate such schemes.

The school replied to my letter without addressing any of my concerns, justifying the scheme by saying "We are one of the few schools in East Yorkshire not already doing this." A line of reasoning which never used to work on teachers when I was at school.

My children are very keen to be a part of this scheme but I won't let them. They are being conditioned to give up their rights literally in return for food. It amounts to grooming the population for subservience to the State whilst they are at their most susceptible. I don't think that a parent should have the right to consent to this on behalf of their children any more than they should have the right to consent to anything else which requires adult consent, for example marriage.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and whether you'd be interested in helping to give the issue some publicity.

All The Best,

Denzil Vallance

(PS: A select few people are already following this saga so I will be making this email public.)

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