Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Civil Liberties Union voice concerns using childrens fingerprints for food purchase

Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Minnesota on the possible introduction of fingerprint scanners for lunch lines at Oltman Junior High in St. Paul Park and East Ridge High School.:

"This is a solution in search of a problem. It just baffles me. Of all the problems schools face, is this really an issue?"

Officials think it will speed up lunch lines, solve the problem of children forgetting their ID numbers and prevent identity theft (?!)

But the comments from the biometric vendor in this article are quite bizarre and would be funny if they weren't so seriously off the mark :

"There always seems to be this knee-jerk reaction that somehow, some way, a person is giving up their identity." - putting a child's biometric details on a relatively unsecure system, biometric details that have to be secure for the lifetime of the child, decades in fact, for insignificant tasks such as paying for food I would argue IS most definitely "giving up their identity" to significant risk.

When you bear in mind the obvious fact that computers are advancing at a great rate along with transferable softwear from biometric database to biometric database (and with that hackers abilities) that using childrens biometric for mundane administrative tasks is wholly inappropriate.

This biometric vendor goes on to say:

"It's absolutely the opposite. It actually protects a person's identity." - right...

Utah to fingerprint pupils for lunches?

In Utah, parents are to discuss this month whether the use of fingerprint technology, for lunch payments and monitoring childrens eating habits, in Draper public schools is appropriate.

Let's hope they make a sensible informed decision - listen to the schools reasoning but also take on board other expert opinion, such as Microsoft's Architect of Identity, Kim Cameron.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Arizona Senate bill bans biometrics in schools

Arizona, USA, have a bill SB1216 banning biometrics in schools, details below and here is the 'fact sheet' of the bill.

It heartening that people are taking on board the issues that arise with the, increasingly obvious, inappropriate use of biometric technology with children in schools.

When it was reported that Espiritu community schools in Phoenix, USA, fingerprinted children, without informing parents, in mid January 2008 it taken a little over a month for this bill to happen.

I hope this speedy action shames our Labour UK Members of Parliament to act as the elected people of Arizona have, i.e. working the people that elected them - although I'm not holding my breath.

Well done to mum, Shirley Wallace, Arizona State Sen. Karen Johnson and State Rep. Andy Biggs, the others that supported this bill and Fred Bellemy, a Phoenix attorney who specializes in Technology Law for their efforts to bring this bill about in such a short amount of time.

REFERENCE TITLE: schools; biometric information; prohibition

State of Arizona Senate, Forty-eighth Legislature, Second Regular Session 2008

SB 1216

Introduced by
Senators Johnson, Blendu: Gray C, Harper; Representative Pearce


amending Title 15, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, by adding section 15-107; relating to school pupils.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 15, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 15-107, to read:

START_STATUTE 15-107. Biometric information; prohibition; definition

A. School districts and charter schools shall not collect biometric information from pupils.

B. For the purposes of this section, "biometric information" means any information that is collected through an identification process for individual persons based on unique behavioral or physiological characteristics, including fingerprints, hand geometry, voice recognition, facial recognition, iris scans or retinal scans. END_STATUTE

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jim Knight - what does he actually do??

With amazing consistency Jim Knight ducks and dives out of all responsibilty for his department to take stock of the fingerprinting of children in UK schools.

I'm wondering what he actually does in his role as Minister of State for Schools and Learners,(DfCSF) ?

Annette Brooke [LibDem]: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will commission a review of the academic literature on the reversibility of biometric templates to recreate fingerprints.

Jim Knight: The Department has no plans to commission a review of the academic literature on the reversibility of biometric templates to recreate fingerprints. Becta is responsible for monitoring this and other aspects of technology in schools and will take appropriate action as it considers necessary. Becta published guidance on the use of biometric technology in July 2007.

Annette Brooke [LibDem]: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will commission an independent assessment of the security of biometric systems used in schools (a) in libraries, (b) in canteens and (c) for registration.

Jim Knight: The Department has no plans to commission an assessment of the security systems used in schools (a) in libraries, (b) in canteens and (c) for registration. Becta is responsible for monitoring this and other aspects of technology in schools and will take appropriate action as it considers necessary. Becta published guidance on the use of biometric technology in July 2007.

Bob Spink [Cons]: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools in Essex fingerprint pupils; and if he will make a statement.

Jim Knight: The Department is not aware of any schools in Essex which fingerprint pupils. Some schools may use biometric technology systems involving the recording of some fingerprint characteristics. The Department does not routinely keep records of such schools since the decision to introduce biometric technology is for each school to make.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh the possibilities...

Dan Brawner seems to have his finger(print) on the pulse here -

LIVING IN IOWA: Forget your signature: soon the biometric thumbprint will be the new national ID

by Dan Brawner · February 06, 2008

I’m sure the Iowa Department of Education only wanted what’s best for us when they proposed the “thumbprint bill” that would have students use a biometric thumbprint scan in paying for school lunches and checking out library books. They assure us the thumbprints will not be stored or shared with government agencies or businesses. They argue convincingly that students will have to spend less time standing in lines and the new technology will keep them safer by tracking their whereabouts.

I can understand why a sophomore in his desperation to check out a copy of War And Peace does not have time to laboriously sign his name for the librarian. But after all, attendance in an institution of higher education does presuppose a certain degree of literacy. If they make it too easy to sign a document, you discover later you’ve sold Manhattan for a handful of beads.

If the thumbprint thing catches on in schools, pretty soon Mastercard will say, why carry around those silly plastic cards that could fall into the wrong hands when all you need to do at the checkout counter is plant your thumb on the scanner? Now you can buy stuff faster than ever!

Before long, the Department of Motor Vehicles will want to get into the act. Then doctors and hospitals will have patients zipping through check-in, dispensing with all that tiresome paperwork. All you will ever need is your thumb. You won’t even have to be conscious. Heck, you won’t even have to be there. Just your thumb. Parents could have detachable thumbs. “Hey, Dad, I’m driving into Chicago today. Can I borrow the thumb?” “Okay, son. Just have it back by midnight.”

Our entire identity will be defined by our thumbs. Our thumbs will represent our legal status, our financial stature, our health, our political leanings, our religious affiliations, our intrinsic worth as neighbors and citizens. Our very soul.

We will no longer be able take our thumbs for granted. We’ll have to take special care of them. If you get a scar on your thumb from peeling potatoes, it might alter your identity. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. We cannot allow you to pick up the boy you say is your son from baseball practice. According to your thumbprint, it says you are a 78-year-old Tibetan man who had his license revoked for running over a goat.”

With all our personal information stored with our thumbprint, identity theft can be surprisingly easy. Investigators found that thumbprints leave a mark on the scanner and can be made to reappear by merely breathing on the glass. We can no longer afford to expose our naked thumbs to strangers who might photograph them or lift our prints from doorknobs. We’ll have to wear special thumb lingerie to hide our most intimate secrets from prying eyes.

Sure, it will take some adjustment. But sailing through the checkout line at Wal-Mart will make it all worthwhile.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Stop Fingerprinting children in schools? at Prime Minister's Questions but no Prime Ministers Answers, unsurprisingly...

Prime Minister's Questions - Wednesday 6th Feb 2007

The 100% complete dodging round the issue of fingerprint systems in school by the PM yesterday is self explanitory below.

Mr. Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD): This week’s bugging controversy should not come as a surprise to the Prime Minister. After all, it is this Government who have turned the British public into the most spied upon on the planet: 1,000 surveillance requests every day; 1 million innocent people on the Government’s DNA database; and 5,000 schools now fingerprinting our children at school. Is that what the Prime Minister meant when he spoke so stirringly a few months ago about the great British tradition of liberty?

The Prime Minister: I take it that the right hon. Gentleman and the Liberal authorities support CCTV. I take it that they support the intercept action that is taken when it is necessary for national security. I take it that he accepts that only 1,500 intercepts have been commissioned by Ministers as a result of urgent security needs. Does he accept these things or not?

Mr. Clegg: The Prime Minister seems to see no limits. He is creating a surveillance state. Why has he consistently refused requests for more power to be given to the Information Commissioner? Why does he not do what is already done in Scotland and remove the DNA of innocent people from the database? Why will he not act immediately to stop the scandalous fingerprinting of our children at school?

The Prime Minister: People in this country are reassured by the presence of CCTV; I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not proposing to remove it. That is one very important part of the investigatory and surveillance powers that we give the police to carry out their work. I would hope that the right hon. Gentleman would look at the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and see the protections that have been put in place where there is surveillance and where there are intercepts. They include authorisation by a senior officer, the right to appeal to an independent tribunal, and a commissioner for surveillance who looks at matters and reports annually. We are taking the steps to protect the liberties of the citizens; I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will support that.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Biometrics in schools - "hard to sell to parents"

A slight thought process going on at the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services on biometrics, even if it is just about the fact that "it's hard to sell to parents".

Broome-Tioga BOCES serves 15 school districts in Broome and Tioga counties, which deals with nearly 40,000 students in grades k-12 and many others in adult programs.

Kathy Alley from Broome-Tioga say that she "envisions a school district where fingerprint scanners are in cafeterias, building entrances, classrooms and buses".

Why? Apparently she cites that "missing children" will be easier to track... (how many of the 40,000 children do the 15 school districts lose?) Where is the personal eye to eye contact in registration with teacher and pupil if children are simply logged in by fingerscan?

The reason it is hard to sell to parents is because we, as adults, can make informed decisions about biometric technology and when and where we use it. Infact recently, at Heathrow Airport, when biometric technology is imposed on adults, rountinely, there is an outcry.

Children in school are in a compliant situation - a soft market for biometric companies when authorities require more and more detailed information from schools about our children.

Schools having our children's biometric identifiers, as well, is a step too far.