Reading between the Lines
T.H.E. Journal Volume 36, Number 9, ISSN 0192-592X
Biometrics has been making its way into school districts for the past decade. Biometric tools draw information from a person's identifying physical components, providing a virtually fail-safe level of protection for K-12 schools. In addition to their security uses, biometric systems are currently used in schools for cafeteria purchases, library checkout, student attendance, and teacher time clocks, among other applications. Biometrics is a category of combination hardware-software systems that recognize a person by taking a measurement of an individually distinct physical trait, like a fingerprint or the shape of a face. Fingerprint scanners are a common sight these days. They protect access to everything from laptop computers to ATM machines. But the list of biometric tech tools includes iris and retinal scanners, facial recognition systems, handgeometry analyzers, voice-print technologies, and emerging systems that identify vein patterns in the palm of a hand. Not everyone, however, has greeted the advent of biometrics in schools with the same enthusiasm. Concerns about personal privacy and potential misuses of the information gathered by these systems have sparked an antibiometrics movement both in the US and in the UK. LeaveThemKidsAlone.com and its sister organization in the US, BanTheScan.com, argue that biometric devices are allowing schools to fingerprint children without parental consent, that no independent research has shown any benefits of the technology to the students, and that vendor claims that the systems store computer code that can't be reverse engineered to the original fingerprint are false.
Waters, J.K. (2009). Reading between the Lines. T.H.E. Journal, 36(9), 23-27.