Thursday, November 29, 2007

Canadian students object to biometic access - for gym access

The University of Northern British Columbia has installed biometric scanners "controlling access to the sports centre" [why?] 300 students have signed an online petition opposing it.

"Graduate student Gabrielle Wint-Rose wasn't sure why her gym needs such personal data, and said the invasiveness of the system should have been considered and students consulted before installing the system.

"It was a really shocking experience. It really wakes you up. You realize you walk into this facility and the only way to access is through finger scanning and all of sudden you're in this moment where you have no choice. What do you do?" said Wint-Rose on Wednesday.

Lindsay Stinson told CBC News she was upset she had to register her fingerprint and give personal information before she could work out at her university's new gym."

Proportionality in this must be considered. Who would want to monitor or possibly profile students exercise information? Does the university own the gym or do they lease it out to a private company? Where does the students data go?

Want to exercise = give personal biometric data? (would suggest boycotting gym and jogging instead, cheaper and non intrusive)

Students in Canada have (absolutely) more awareness than UK primary school pupils, 4 years old, that are now using fingerprint biometric systems here, and in the USA, without parental consent/knowledge.

With the Canadian students being older and having awareness of their personal data, they consequently raise valid privacy issues:

"Wint-Rose said she is concerned about what happens to the biometric information and who controls it.

"The northern sports centre has my information. I have no way of getting that back. I don't know how it's being collected, where it's being stored, who has access to this information," said Wint-Rose."

The following is a published paper by the Candian Information and Privacy Commissioner in March 2007:

Biometric Encryption: A Positive-Sum Technology that Achieves Strong Authentication, Security AND Privacy
Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D. Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario &
Alex Stoianov, Ph.D. Biometrics Scientist

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Finger food - German style"

This from a BBC article on Germans using biometric scanners for shopping, the closing paragraph reads:

"And it's not just supermarkets. At some German schools, students are now using biometrics to buy their school dinners. Finger food - German style."

Data Protection, Human Rights and security


If an individual's biometric information is compromised or stolen, that individual could no longer use those biometrics to prove his or her identity. Therefore, unless stringent security measures are put in place, the digital storage of biometric data could present a real security risk for facilitating identity theft.

The use of biometric systems must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Data Protection Directive. The relevant legislation in the UK is the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act (DPA). Under the Human Rights Act each of us is entitled to respect in our private life, including our life at the workplace.

Under the DPA personal data is required to be processed fairly and for specific limited purposes. Two key principles come into play. First, the principle of proportionality, which means the interference with the private life of the individual must be justifiable by the benefits. Second, the principle of transparency - which means it must be clear how and why information is being used and it must not be used beyond this without prior agreement.

It is possible to deploy biometrics in ways that do not breach the DPA by - for example, justifying the processing on one of the grounds set out in the DPA. Organisations setting up biometric systems will need to be clear about the purpose of the system or scheme and consider carefully how data is collected, stored and accessed. Use of the biometric information will need to be proportionate to the benefits of the scheme

Biometrics enable Australian schools to monitor students "more closely"

In Australia, New South Wales, the children's biometric market is taking off. The all in one scheme monitors eating habits, movements around school and children's reading habits.

Rooty Hill High School has ordered 14 scanners, which are expected to be used to scan students as they enter the canteen, library and some classrooms.

The school's principal Christine Cawsey said it would allow the school to monitor the students more closely. [why?]

But president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Cameron Murphy said the scanning system was "intrusive" and suggested those using the system were branding students as lawbreakers.

"It's a clear breach of their privacy and it's treating school kids like they're criminals," Mr Murphy told The Daily Telegraph last night. "It's absolutely absurd.

"If the fingerprinting doesn't work, what's next? Putting ankle bracelets on students?"

Academy Attendance manufactures the electronic attendance systems, which are expected to be rolled out to at least half a dozen other schools next year.

The Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations said they were not consulted about the new technology.

"This is a step too far ... we would have liked to have expressed an opinion to ensure that all the checks and balances were there," federation president Di Giblin said.

Illinios schools legally need parental consent

No mention of parental consent in this article at Glenwood Middle School, Chatham, however the law in Illinois, as of August 2007, requires it.

"Scanners tested" at US high school

At Hagerty High School in Oviedo it's an "opt out" system as the Orlando Sentinal reports.

"...students will be required to take part unless their parents object.

Officials attempted to start the finger-scanning program at Hagerty earlier this month, but Superintendent Bill Vogel stopped it abruptly after several parents complained that they knew nothing about it and hadn't been given a chance to say no.

Some parents said their children had been threatened with punishment for refusing to have their fingers scanned initially to make a master image they would be scanned against every day. About a dozen parents already have refused to allow their children take part."

Bullying tactics have been used here in the UK as well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Without much understanding of what ARCH (Action on Rights for Children) achieves it could be said that we were being branded as a little alarmist in this article, but perhaps justified given that the UK government has just "lost" 25 million children's/families data that it holds.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reconstructing fingerprint images from templates

This is for everyone who thinks fingerprints cannot be reverse engineered from biometric systems, and especially for Jim Knight MP, the Labour Minister for Schools and Learners, who offered up the below incorrect information in a parliamentary debate in July this year with Greg Mulholland MP:

"Secondly, as I stated earlier, it is not possible to recreate a fingerprint using the numbers that are stored. The algorithm generates a unique number, producing no information of any use to identity thieves. I shall quote from a statement from the Information Commissioner’s Office—a thoroughly independent source—that says in the third paragraph:

“Full fingerprint images are not stored and cannot be generated (‘reverse engineered’) from the template.”

I hope that that is clear to all those listening, because it is an important reassurance on the points that the hon. Gentleman has made." ...absolutely crystal Jim.

1. Original fingerprint scan
2. Stored fingerprint template

3. Print reconstructed from template
Arun Ross, Member, IEEE, Jidnya Shah, and Anil K. Jain, Fellow, IEEE
April 2007
(as shown on the Leave Them Kids Alone site)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Australia start 'fingerprinting' students

As controversial biometric systems are being used in the UK and fingerprint scanners being put on hold in Orlando, scrapped in Massachusetts, Australia decides to implement fingerprint readers in their schools for registration, movement around school, canteen and library - all in one go.

However the Biometrics Institute in Australia have a voluntary Privacy Code, approved by the Australian Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis, which applies to organisations that have agreed to be covered by the Code. The code came into effect September 2006. I wonder if schools and the vendors of such systems designed to be used in schools have signed up for the voluntary Privacy Code.

The Education Department has given Sydney Schools the all-clear to fingerprint their students.

The controversial move is voluntary, but only three parents have declined to allow their children to take part in a trial of the system at Rooty Hill High in Sydney's west.

School principal Christine Cawsey has told the Nine Network the system will be used to track children when they arrive at school, and as they visit the canteen, library and selected classrooms.

When they put their finger on the scanner, they will get a good morning greeting on the screen [arwh] and then they go to class.”

Saturday, November 10, 2007

USA news

Just thought I post a list of articles of what is happening in the USA with biometric scanners in schools.

When I started this I could initially keep on top of what was happening in the states but the technology is being rolled at such a rate in the USA, it was difficult to keep up with it! This is the past couple of months news:

Should schools fingerprint kids?

Fingerprinting kids for school lunch comments from the 29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners was held in Montréal, Quebec.

School store checks out in high-tech ways Detriot News

Finger-scanning implemented at local elementary schools Colorado

Wallenpaupack Area to offer cashless lunch Pennsylvania

Finger Scanning System at Oregon School Raises Security Concerns

From The Statesman in Oregon:

Scanning students' fingers hits a nerve

Lunch-line thumb scan won't hurt privacy

Thumb scanners keep information private

Schools add a personal touch - Denver Post

Orlando school scanners put on hold

Whist schools are rolling out fingerprint systems in the UK, over in the USA it's also being brought in on a massive scale.

What is it with educationalists that makes them think it is acceptable to take a child's biometric data without even informing parents that they are going to do it. The same railroading tactics to finger scan the next generation are happening in the States as it is here in the UK.

If biometric technology is so great why not ask parents permission before their children's biometrics are taken and stored on a relatively insecure school computer?

Schools in Orlando didn't ask parents:

"Superintendent Bill Vogel said he had "indefinitely" delayed installation of finger scanners in lunchrooms at Hagerty High in Oviedo and Millennium Middle in Sanford. Officials say they jumped the gun by starting the scanning program without notifying parents or giving them a choice whether to have their children participate."

"There was not a letter sent out," Vogel said." - Why not? Here in the UK we have to sign permission slips for photographs taken, schools trips, food tasting, off site walks... why not biometric scans?

"I don't want to hear about this being a secure system or that it won't be used for anything else. No one can guarantee this," said Lisa Reese-Gordon in an e-mail complaint to Gov. Charlie Crist and school-district officials.

Look to recent law in Illinois, SB1702, which came into effect Aug this year states in section 5(B), page 4:

(5) A prohibition on the sale, lease, or other disclosure of biometric information to another person or entity, unless: (B) the disclosure is required by court order.

This could be law enforcement or government agencies.

Reese-Gordon, whose daughter attends Hagerty High, said there is"no educational purpose for the taking of fingerprints from children."

She's absolutely right. Biometric systems are purely used for administration purposes. Here in the UK children are the main proportion of the population using biometric systems.

If biometric systems are so time and cost effective why not use them routinely on the adult population? Why not in hospitals, civic centre, production lines, adult libraries, loyalties in stores, cash card authentication?

Why? Because adults question. In order for biometric systems to be efficient a large percentage take up of users would have to happen. But because we adults would question their use, who has access, how secure, etc. potential take up would be low and therefore not viable.

Children don't question, however parents would if we were asked - so we're not asked.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A bit of cancer with your chips?...but only with a fingerprint

Rantings of a New Yorker has had a few comments to make recently on the new fingerprint and RFID chipped world that our children experience in school:

RFID Chips Wanted in British School Children’s Uniforms
There’s a New Jacket in Town, and It’s Keeping Track of Your Children
Parents Upset at Scanning Children’s Fingerprints so They Can Eat Lunch

Ooooh and here's one that parents and pupils of Hungerhill School, Doncaster, UK might want to read - RFID Implants Linked to Cancer

Thanks Rantings and Slashdot too :)

Leeds pupils speak out

Over on Taz's blog the ongoing annoyance and concerns of pupils and parents at Morley High School, run by Education Leeds, continues, with much debate...

"i am a student at morley high school and now see why no letters were sent out, the ironic thing about this system is that in our school it dosent even work as expected because if multiple students use there fingerprints at the same time the orders get mixed up and so many people have to pay for things they havent even purchased ...and the head teacher is reported to be one of the best in the local area" mmm.... in some peoples views maybe not so "best"

Such systems can cost up to £25,000. When biometric systems do not educationally benefit children (depending from who's point of view), just think how better this 25K and the annual running costs of the system could be better spent on our children's education.