BIOMETRIC SYSTEM

This is non-statutory advice from the Department for Education. It explains the legal duties schools and sixth-form colleges have if they wish to use biometric information about students for the purposes of using automated biometric recognition systems.

The duties on schools in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 set out in this advice come into effect from 1 September 2013.

Schools and colleges using automated biometric recognition systems, or planning to install them, are advised to plan, in advance, to make arrangements to notify parent/carers and obtain the consent required under the new duties, as set out in the body of this advice. This will be particularly relevant for schools where students are already enrolled and using automated biometric recognition systems. There will be no circumstances in which a school or college can lawfully process, or continue to process, a students' biometric data without having notified each parent/carer of a child and received the necessary consent after the new duties come into effect.

This advice replaces Becta guidance on biometric technologies in schools.

Sixth-form colleges and 16-19 academies are covered by this advice. Separate advice will be issued by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to cover further education (FE) institutions with students under 18 years of age.

Biometrics

WHAT IS BIOMETRICS TECHNOLOGY?

Biometrics technology is an irrefutable verification or identification of a person by various physiological characteristics, which cannot be transferred or copied.

BIOMETRICS AUTHENTICATION

Biometric authentication measures the unique, invariable biological characteristics of an individual. One of the most common biometrics used today is fingerprint information.

The biometric information is captured during enrollment and translated into a template, which is stored for subsequent authentication. The template is then stored in the database or on the server. During authentication, the biometric information is captured and compared against the stored template. If the user is valid, the two templates will match, and authentication is achieved.

PATTERN RECOGNITION

Biometric image capture normally uses a pattern recognition algorithm as the basis for its fingerprint authentication systems. This algorithm processes the entire fingerprint image, rather than simply selecting a limited number of minutiae points. This means that pattern recognition algorithms are more robust as they are not significantly affected by the loss of information when a finger is scarred, damaged, or dirty.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Every time a Fingerprint is presented to the sensor, it will be compared to the appropriate algorithm in the data base.