Friday, October 26, 2007
Blue Oregon Upset Over Biometrics
Oregonians voted for Albert Gore, Jr. in 2000 and for John Kerry (who served in Vietnam) in 2004.
It wouldn't be off-base to say Blue Oregon has a history of trending to the Left of the political center, you know, the mentality that government knows best and the Nanny State can never overstep its boundaries; unlimited intervention in personal lives is always the best way to go - that kind of mentality.
So it comes as a surprise to me to find out that some parents in Oregon who have children in school are unhappy that some Oregon school districts are using biometric identification for the school children in order to speed up the lunchtime lines.
From The Statesman Journal:
...the use of biometric technology in schools, such as a system being used by Stayton Middle School's cafeteria, has some parents and privacy advocates condemning the move as outright Orwellian.
Feeling the lunchtime crunch, Stayton Middle School administrators last month installed a finger-scanning system to help expedite the cafeteria meal line.
To implement the new lunch account system, students' prints were scanned into a scanner to help identify them.
Jack Adams, the superintendent of the North Santiam School District, said the system does not take a student's actual fingerprint.
"It's a string, not a fingerprint," Adams said. "It's three mathematical pieces of information taken from a student's finger. It's stored on the school computer and can't be used in any other way."
But some parents are opposed to the finger-scanning of minors in schools. They say they're concerned that the prints their children register with the school could be stolen, misplaced or used for a form of fraud that hasn't even been invented.
"Some of the parents are worried the government will be able to access their kids' prints," Butler said. "But what they don't realize is that the actual image of the fingerprint is discarded and all that's used is a number."
The middle school's new scanner plots points on a fingerprint and then converts those points to an encrypted number, he explained.
That number is used to verify a student's account, he added.
Rather than using an ID card, entering a pin number or paying cash, students simply press their finger or thumb on an infrared scanner to be matched to their lunch account.
School officials say the new system saves time for the cashiers because they don't have to write everything down and can just push a button if a child forgets his or her lunch money for the day.
They also say the system allows parents to pre-pay for student lunches and gives privacy to students who receive free or reduced meals.
But critics say that while the scanners may help improve the efficiency of a school cafeteria, it still is an ink-less way of collecting fingerprints.
Steve Moon, the marketing director of MealTime, a Portland firm that sold the finger-scanning system to the school, rejects that argument.
"All those fears and concerns are based on misinformation," Moon said. "The data can't be used to re-create a fingerprint or by police to identify a student."
It's not known how many schools in Oregon use the finger-scanning system because the federal government does not require school districts to report their use, an official with the Oregon School Board Association said.
But Moon estimates that MealTime has sold the system to at least 60 to 70 schools in Oregon.
Lillie Coney, meanwhile, says she's concerned that biometric vendors are using semantics to convince schools that a person's fingerprint image is stored as mathematical points only.
"All biometrics are mathematical points," said Coney, an associate director with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research group in Washington, D.C., that focuses public attention on emerging civil liberties and privacy issues.
"Now we're seeing schools use the language of marketers who sell this type of technology to convince parents there's nothing to worry about," she said. "Schools should be skeptical of an industry that creates this technology and which then says the data can't be used in other ways."
Stayton Middle School's data is kept on a self-contained database at the district office, Butler said.
However, Coney worries that with technological advances, someone could use the information in five or 10 years to recreate a child's fingerprints.
"In the final analysis, the print information collected from these students is only as secure as the database in which that information is stored," Coney said. "And no database is immune from attackers."
So this procedure by Oregon schools is "Orwellian," is it? Gee, I thought "Orwellian" applied only to things done by big, bad, evil Republicans and Conservatives. I'm shocked and surprised that the term "Orwellian" is being applied to an issue in such a decidedly Blue State! (insert Laugh Track!)
I lean to siding with the parents who object to this fingerprint procedure, but you get the government and school board procedures that you vote for, and, Oregon is a Blue State.
Oh how the Howling Insane Liberal Clown Posse would be screaming if this program was being used in a Red State, and maybe it is, I'm not aware of it via any news reports. "Fascists", the Left would be screaming at the school district. "You're all Hitlers," is what members of the school board would be hearing.
This is another example of Liberalism coming full circle, biting Liberals in the butt and they don't like it. Gee, that's just too bad, really, it's a shame because...it's for the children, and as I've so often said, if it's for the children, how can it possibly be bad?
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