Thursday, January 03, 2013

Parent pressure in Maryland USA scrap school palm scanners

Parent pressure in Carroll, Maryland, has persuaded the school district to scrap controversial palm scanners in 10 schools after parents "said the system violated their children's privacy".

John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute and a constitutional lawyer asked School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie to review using an opt-in process, as Whitehead said "with private information and kids, I much prefer an opt-in" and here in the UK our parliamentarians agree in this.  

This opt-out form of gaining consent was used in the UK and has been much criticized. Opt-in consent enacted into law May 2012 becomes enforceable September 2013.

Stephen Guthrie made this rather surprising statement "We felt the scans fell under normal school process."   Really?  Is it 'normal' for schools to take a child's biometric marker in exchange for food?  Adults do not do that in society so why on earth would it be a "normal school process" to introduce a system, alien to the society outside a school, that normalises such a disproportionate use of biometrics - with children? 

As with all biometric systems sold to teachers, a solution is pitched to speed up lunch lines, streamline operations and cut costs.  Teachers being told it's normal technology to use in schools.  Normal for whom? 

Surely if these teachers in schools actually sat back and really thought about it... really? ...fingerprinting kids for lunch?  Infra-red palm scanning for food?  Is it really worth trading a child's personal biometrics to shave a few dollars off a budget?  

Children have rights, and society's morals, ethics and civil liberties outside school must permeate to within a school too.  Thankfully these parents enabled this to happen.

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