The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

Please note: The following information has not been updated since the Data Protection Act 2018 became law. Although there may be some subtle differences between the guidance on this page and guidance reflecting the new law – we still consider the information useful to those in the media.

Some schools are collecting fingerprints for registration, library book borrowing and catering. However, some people are concerned about their fingerprints being used in this way.

What does the Act say?

The Data Protection Act says that personal data (in this case fingerprints) must be fairly obtained. In other words, the school should ensure that pupils are fully aware of the implications of having their fingerprints taken before doing so. Depending on the level of understanding of the pupils, this may need to involve their parents.

What should I expect the school to do?

Schools should explain the reasons for needing to collect fingerprints, and how the fingerprints and any other personal details will be used and kept safe. Schools should respect the wishes of pupils and parents who object to school fingerprinting, especially where a card can be used instead of a fingerprint.