01 October 2007

Child Identity Crisis?

While public schools have taken a hit from the No Child Left Behind act, some are becoming involved in a battle involving student privacy. With this one might think about the student's rights while in school, but something new is emerging: biometrics.

Biometrics is a way of uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits. Basically, it is a way to identify a person based on a fingerprint scan, retina scan, or facial recognition. Although there are many other methods these are very popular.

The school district in Boulder, Colorado wanted to find a quicker way to get children through the lunch line. Fingerprint scanners were brought up as a possible solution as it would be easier for the younger children who would have a hard time remembering a six digit PIN number. Parents were outraged at this proposal. Activists believe that the information stored in the database about a person's biometrics could be compromised and lead problems such as identity theft or being unfairly tracked by the government.

Some schools use fingerprint scanners to allow students to check in for class. This allows for a more accurate count, while allowing the instructor to dedicate time to other duties. Some States have already enacted laws barring the use of biometrics in the classroom, such as Michigan and Iowa.

Personally, I really don't see where the problem lies. This is a quick, efficient and easy solution to some schools problems involving attendance and accountability. While I understand that some people don't like their personal information being stored, at this point, what could someone use their fingerprint data to access?

I understand that if someone had my fingerprint data from when I attended school and I ever became a person of importance that they may be able to use this information if fingerprint scanners ever became common place. As of right now though, I see any of our biometrics as being just as important as our Social Security number, and many people let that number fly around more often than they should.

I feel as long as the information is stored securely, by a reputable company, there should be no problems. Like I stated above, many people shout out their Social Security number to clerks at shopping malls and retail stores when applying for credit, while trusting the clerk that they will not use the information later. Fingerprints will be more secure, yet not completely free from abuse.

Any method you use will be subject to abuse in some form or another. It is up to everyone to help each other find the best method that works with minimal abuse.

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