Government Fingerprinting Kindergartners

Wednesday 18 October 2006 at 22:41

I'm one of three volunteers who have created a Challenge Math program at the neighborhood school. Only one of the three of us has a child enrolled. That's pretty exciting. It's one thing to love and understand math and yet another thing to be able to teach it. The best way to learn how is to just do it. As much as I'd like to talk about that I've got another thing on my mind. It's amazing how big issues present themselves at the little school around the corner.

The district recently adopted a system where every student has a six digit id number. The lunch program is using that number to manage the accounting for student lunches. The kindergartners and first graders have been having trouble remembering their id number.

The district decided to use their fingerprints to connect them to their lunch account.

I'll say that again in case you missed it. The district decided to roll out fingerprint scanners so the kids could get through the lunch line without having to know their six digit number. What's more, they notified parents that they could opt-out of the program two days after the student's fingerprints had been collected.

I learned about it from one of the other volunteers who asked how to confirm that the district destroyed all trace of their child's fingerprint data. I'll let you think about that question a bit and tell more about how I answered in another post.

In the meantime, it seems there's been some recent noise about exactly the same thing in the UK:

UK parent's planning a law suit vs. schools that fingerprinted kids without parent permission

UK MPs condemn schools for fingerprinting kids without parent permission

UK parent's collecting their ammunition (love the Pink Floyd reference in the URL!)

This paragraph from a German article about biometrics maybe tips my hand a bit about what scares me. The article is here: http://www.heise.de/ct/english/02/11/114/

The simplest eavesdropping tool is a filter driver like USB Snoop for Windows. USB Snoop interposes itself between the driver of the USB adapter and the actual device driver. After being presented by Windows with all the data exchanged between the USB and the device driver, USB Snoop then writes these into a log file of its own. These data the snooping party can then analyze at its leisure. Filter drivers are quite easy to detect though and in addition require administrator rights to be installed under Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Nevertheless, they would permit studies of a biometric scanner of the same kind as the one to be tricked to be undertaken at one's own PC.