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The Work Of Pippa King

While female agitators like the founders of Black Lives Matter are busy creating civil unrest, other women are doing something useful that actually defends civil liberties and human rights, none more so than Pippa King.

Fifteen years ago she was an obscure housewife on Humberside. The mother of two young sons, she also taught music, then one of those chance happenstances that have been known to start revolutions occurred.

From 2001, schools throughout the UK began introducing a novel system for school libraries; instead of pupils checking out books in the then normal manner with library cards, they were using fingerprint readers. When she heard of this, being a member of her local parent-teachers association, Mrs King told the headmistress she was concerned her sons were to be fingerprinted without her permission. She received a typically arrogant bureaucratic reply – “we” don’t need your permission.

This led to one concerned mother digging very deep into the technology behind the emerging total surveillance state. The result is her website Biometrics In Schools. She also gives presentations; her speech is called Sleepwalking Into A Surveillance State, and has been augmented and updated over the years.

She and like-minded persons have documented the use and abuse of biometrics not only in schools but in police custody suites and on members of the general public. Biometrics includes facial and iris recognition, and with the development of artificial intelligence, a decade and a half on from her initial concern, should give us all cause for concern. Companies from as far afield as Israel and Japan have been involved in developing this technology.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though;  thanks to the efforts of American campaigners, collecting biometric data from Florida’s public schools was banned in 2014. (A note here: in the UK, public schools are actually private, fee-paying schools).

And next month,  the Biometrics Institute will be holding an international live hangout for what it calls the Good Practice Framework.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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