Tracking Students and Citizens With Globally Connected Biometric Databases

Activist Post
December 28, 2012

 

The Biometric Database Law, originated in Israel, determines fingerprints and facial recognition software use to collect data on Israeli citizens as justified by decree of the Israeli government. This data is used for identification purposes by law enforcement and governmental agencies to deter criminal activity. However, the Israeli government collects massive amounts of data on its citizens that violate their inherent right to privacy.

Israeli residents are subject to biometric tracking through passports and identification cards.

In the UK, the National Pupil Database (NPD) houses biometric information about British students for use of the government. The Administrative Data Liaison Service describes the NPD as “one of the richest education datasets in the world, holding a wide range of information about students who attend schools and colleges in England. The NPD combines the examination results of pupils with information on pupil and school characteristics and is an amalgamation of a number of different datasets, including Key State attainment data and Schools Census data (formerly known as PLASC) which are linked using a unique identifier for each pupil.”

The Biometrics Institute (BI), an international coalition of biometric users, academics and industry members want the UK government to rethink their widening use of the NPD as well as their burgeoning use of biometric technologies to create database profiles on citizens. BI is concerned that private sector corporations would now have access to the NPD, which would open the door for Facebook and Google to use this information for nefarious purposes.

The BI was formed to “promote the responsible use of biometrics as an international forum for biometric users and other interested parties.” Their goals are to make sure:

  • Promote ethical use of biometric technologies
  • Retain privacy considerations
  • Educate the public, governments and corporations on biometrics
  • Influence standards of use of biometrics
  • Test technology for on behalf of the industry
  • Encourage research and development of biometrics

The Department of Education in the UK uses this database which stores extremely sensitive information about students, their parents’ social and educational background, finances, health, intelligence and social training, personal information, mental health records, as well as fingerprints and facial recognition.

Terry Aulich, chair of the BI Privacy Committee explained:

Privacy breaches can have dangerous and disturbing consequences. All parents and pupils need water-tight guarantees to prevent any personal data, whether it is linked or consolidated, getting into the wrong hands or being misused by external groups such as the media and marketers, and criminals. Children cannot exercise informed consent about how their data is used and their parents are often unaware of the risks.

More than 200 CCTV cameras have been installed in bathrooms and changing rooms to monitor students in the UK. Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch said that parents were not aware of this new development and that schools should explain what is being done with the footage recorded.

These cameras were installed in 207 schools in England, Scotland and Wales. While the reasoning for this development is explained as necessary to thwart crime, there is no significant research proving that CCTV cameras lower crime rates.

Google’s Conversions API is an advertising project that allows corporations to use user profiles to track their consumer habits offline as well as online. C-API will combine real-life data with online user information in order to “bring offline into your online world.”

Tracking consumers by in-store transactions, call-tracking coupled with online activities will be entered into Google. Marketing will be enhanced with optimized “campaigns based on even more of your business data.”

Servers around the world will track and trace consumers using digital information collected in the real world. Biometrics plays a part in this Big Brother system that justifies this initiative under the guise of marketing; however, Google has been under request of the US government for information they have collected on users.

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