I recently found two States in the US, Illinios and Iowa, tackling the issue of biometrics in schools.
I agree with both these bills. Having kept my eye on this issue over the past 18 months in the UK and abroad, and also having a little contact with people in the US as to how biometrics and other tracking technologies are progressing in the USA, these bills are heartening to see.
I just wonder how long it took to bring them in...who, why they were brought in. There is an increasing frequency in this technology being rolled out in the States. As it is rolled out over in the USA laws/bills are introduced to halt and question the technology used.
There is no doubt that this biometric technology will be a part of our children's lives in the future. Let us in the UK also err on the side of caution and look to other countries to see how they deal with this rapidly expanding technology and evaluate the costs and assess the impact of introducing biometrics to children as young as 3 years old in the UK.
"Synopsis As Introduced Amends the School Code. Provides that if a public school or school district collects biometric information from students, it may do so only with, at a minimum, written permission from (i) the individual who legally enrolled the student or (ii) the student, if he or she has reached the age of 18. Prohibits the school or school district from refusing any services otherwise available to the student for withholding permission. Sets forth conditions for collecting and using the information. Amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without reimbursement by the State. Effective August 1, 2006."
[update Feb 2007 - this above link is broken however this one details the below http://www.iowaccess.org/educate/ootd/slu/doc/slu0507.pdf ]
[update March 2007 - SF2086 - Iowa law ammended 2006 for biometrics to be accepted in schools with consent: http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?category=billinfo&service=billbook&GA=81&hbill=SF2086 ]
Page 2 of 6 details the Law quote:
1. Fingerprinting by School Districts Illegal (H.F. 685)
This bill prohibits the fingerprinting of a child under age 17 by a governmental unit (including school districts). While the bill does not define “fingerprinting,” the attorney for the Department of Public Safety advised this agency that digital finger scanning and/or mathematical algorithms of a child’s fingerprint “definitely” are considered to be fingerprinting.
There are a very few districts in Iowa that use a finger scan or finger code system for students to access school lunch, media recourses, etc. This bill appears to render use of these systems unlawful.
Consent by a parent or guardian will not help districts with such a system. The law does not allow a parent or guardian to consent to the use of a finger scan or finger code for a student for any school-related purposes. In fact, it specifically prohibits parental consent for anything except (1) to aid in specific criminal investigations, or (2) in case the child becomes a runaway or a missing child. And in the latter event, any prints taken must be given to the parents. None may be retained by the governmental unit.
Districts are advised to not use any type of finger scanning or algorithms of students until such time as the Department can work with legislators to see if the General Assembly is willing to give some relief to schools. However, any such enabling statutes are now a year away."