Cashless Catering FAQ

Is my fingerprint stored in a database?

No, the image of an individual’s finger scan is never stored in a database or computer file. The image of the fingerprint is transferred from the fingerprint scanner into the computer via an encrypted data path. Feature extraction is then performed where unique points such as where ridges end or change direction are identified and their locations recorded. These form the feature template which is stored in the database for later comparison. Only the template is stored in the database. The number of unique features stored for each fingerprint can vary from ten to as many as forty depending on the complexity and quality of the fingerprint. It is impossible from this stored representation to recreate the original fingerprint image as virtually all the original information has been discarded during the template extraction phase.

Could the police use this stored information to identify and prosecute someone?

The amount of information retained is sufficient to identify an individual from a database of a few hundred or a few thousand using a special algorithm but is totally inadequate for forensic use and could not be used in a court of law to prove identity. The standards for forensic matching are very much higher and require the original fingerprint image.

If the government decided to create a national database of fingerprints is it technically possible for them to take this data from all the schools?

The system works exceptionally well when dealing with small groups of people from a few hundred to a few thousand. During enrolment a new template is created and compared against those already in the database. This is a controlled environment and only enough detail is stored to distinguish this group of people from each other. There is not enough information stored about the characteristics of the finger scan to scale this up to a national database.

When my child leaves the school how can I be certain their finger scan data is removed?

Only one copy of the template is stored in the database and when the individual is deleted from the system the template is completely obliterated.

How do I know the school will keep my child’s finger scan data safe and confidential?

All the finger scan data captured is the property of the school and is only stored on a computer within the school. The data is classified as personal information under the data protection act and therefore must be treated in exactly the same way as other personal data. Schools already have systems and procedures in place to protect the significant personal information they hold on their pupils. In this controlled environment the security and privacy of an individual can be assured.

How is the treatment of data affected by the Data Protection Act?

Digital finger scan data is personal data within the definition of the Data Protection Act, so the database is treated with the same care as any other personal data recorded by the school so as to conform to the data protection legislation.