India: Biometric verification required for student ID and attendance

Biometric attendance must for jr colleges (Pune Mirror)

“We have made biometric attendance mandatory for all junior colleges. This will also let us compare statistics of students opting for specific colleges and give us data about students admitted to that college under the centralised admission process. While this system will leave no room for bogus admission at any city college, it would also make students serious about attending their lectures. Their casual attitude regarding college will change,” said Ramchandra Jadhav, DyDE.

A large potion of that educational institutions must do revolves around identity management.

They did it

The State of Florida has banned biometrics in schools — biometric systems intended to help schools function better in delivering the services they are tasked with providing.

It’ll be fun to see if someone decides to sue when a school tries to sell yearbooks this year. After all, if using a secure biometric system to help a school lunch line move faster is wrong, how can schools be allowed to sell a facial recognition database of the school’s students?

On a side note, the big annual biometrics conference is in Tampa, Florida again this year.

Data privacy in schools is about much more than biometrics

As we’ve often said before, if schools can’t be trusted with private information, biometrics aren’t the problem. It’s nice to see that education professionals take a broad view of student privacy issues.

State Lawmakers Ramp Up Attention to Data Privacy (Education Week)

As the appetite for educational data on students has grown across the K-12 sector, so has the stated desire among many state lawmakers to try to protect the privacy and security of sensitive student information.

Spurred by concerns that the rise of education technology and the increasing prevalence of new assessments will place student data in unreliable hands or be put to nefarious uses, lawmakers in dozens of states have acted this year to clarify who has what access to student data and to specify the best practices for shielding that data.

Biometrics gets an undue amount of attention where child privacy issues are concerned and they are mentioned quite a few times in the article. The article, however, is written for the education insider so it is missing the “passion” one often finds in the techy press and political news stories.

Secure Identity & Biometrics Association weighs in in Florida bill

Florida schools would benefit with biometric ID (Orlando Sentinel)

The Florida Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee’s 5-1 vote last month to ban biometrics in all schools lacks common sense and denies schools the opportunity to improve safety, standards and fiscal accountability. What is so unfortunate about the Senate vote is that it is based on misunderstood science and two districts out of 67 counties that failed to follow simple program protocols, now threatening to deny sensible biometric program implementation in places like Miami-Dade.

As we’ve said before, if schools can’t be trusted with sensitive information, biometrics aren’t the biggest cause for concern.

Schools, technology, and privacy

Scrutiny in California for Software in Schools (NY Times)

A leading California lawmaker plans to introduce state legislation on Thursday that would shore up privacy and security protections for the personal information of students in elementary through high school, a move that could alter business practices across the nearly $8 billion education technology software industry.

The bill would prohibit education-related websites, online services and mobile apps for kindergartners through 12th graders from compiling, using or sharing the personal information of those students in California for any reason other than what the school intended or for product maintenance.

This strikes me as a much better approach to technology in schools than what Florida state Senate is contemplating.

As we’ve mentioned before, the issue of privacy in schools is very much bigger than biometrics. Schools also keep academic records, behavioral records, medical records, socio-economic assessments for administering school lunch programs, home address information, counseling notes and a ton of other information that is much more sensitive than a fingerprint template consisting of a string text characters that cannot be used to learn anything about a student. If schools are unable to keep data secure, biometric template information is the last thing that should concern parents.

Too often, news accounts use biometrics as the ultimate example of private information and the hook on which to hang all sorts of fears the reader is supposed to imagine — i.e. part of the problem — when they are actually part of the solution. Because biometrics are far superior to usernames and passwords for securing personal information, why isn’t all electronic access to student information should be controlled biometrically?

Florida moves to ban school biometrics

This is a biometric database

Senate panel votes to ban biometric data collection in schools (Florida Current)

A key Senate committee voted to stop public school systems from collecting “biometric” data on students, despite warnings that unplugging the computerized systems will waste money and make it harder to move hundreds of kids through lunchroom lines.

“These are children,” said Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange. “There is no reason to scan a kid. Just because the government can do this is no reason the government should be doing this.”

I haven’t read the bill but school yearbook companies, school ID card suppliers, and school photographers might want to make a few calls to the 850 area code. Photos of faces are biometrics, after all.

More posts on biometrics in schools.

Outright technology bans are easy to understand, but they often have unintended consequences and seldom benefit large organizations. It’s better to develop a solid understanding of the appropriate use of a given technology and how it furthers an organization’s mission.

But isn’t the school yearbook a biometric database?

FLORIDA: Lawmakers to consider banning biometrics in schools (Miami Herald)

“We’ve been able to get kids through a lunch line for decades,” said state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican who brought the idea to the Florida Senate. “Why do we need to take their biometric information when we know there is the potential for identity theft?”

But the idea may meet resistance from local school boards, some of which want the flexibility to create their own policies.

“Biometrics is coming,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who spearheaded an effort to create a local biometrics policy this month. “It exists in the market. It will exist in our schools. It may end up being a viable way to ensure there isn’t fraud.”

IT-Lex has a more useful elucidation of what’s going on in Florida Bills Target The Use Of Biometrics In Schools.

One proposal requires that those proposing biometric solutions (1) explain the type of information being collected, how it is collected and stored, and the purposes for which the information is being used; (2) require written permission before collection; (3) ensure that the information is used only for identification or fraud prevention purposes; (4) ensure that the information is not disclosed to another governmental entity or a third party without written permission; (5) provide for the protection from unauthorized disclosure; and (6) require the encryption of all biometric information.

The other is written so broadly that it could apply to school yearbooks and photo ID’s.

It isn’t clear which one the legislative committee voted on today.

Ghost roads and bridges leading to ghost schools attended by ghost students being taught by ghost teachers

No shortage of teachers in ARMM following elimination of ‘ghost pupils’ (Inquirer News)

The top education official in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao claims that unlike other regions plagued with shortages of teachers and classrooms no such problem was evident in the ARMM when school opened last Monday.

“There were no teacher and classroom shortages even after we had cleansed the payroll of ghost teachers,” ARMM Secretary of Education Jamar Kulayan told reporters here Wednesday. That was because, as the joke goes, they also eliminated a lot of “ghost students” and “ghost schools.”

The ARMM saved approximately US $19 million by cleaning out the ghosts.

Biometrics in school busses

Kidtrack biometric system keeps track of kids on school buses (gizmag)

A lot of parents worry when their kids first start taking the school bus by themselves. What if they’re snatched from the bus stop? What if they get off at the wrong stop? What if the bus is hijacked? Well, while the Kidtrack system can’t keep any of those things from happening, it can at least keep track of which children are on which buses, and where.

Keeping school lunch biometrics in perspective

Maryland: Bill from Carroll senator would ban collection of students’ biometric data (Baltimore Sun)

Earlier this school year, Carroll County Public Schools had biometric scanners in place in about 10 school cafeterias, where they were used to help expedite the process of paying for school meals. Officials said the scanners would be more efficient than processing cash transactions or using a PIN keypad system.

But officials fielded complaints from some parents who felt the scanners were an invasion of privacy.

If you think biometrics for school lunch payment are bad, you’re not going to like this:

Joy Pullmann: Data mining kids crosses line (Orange County Register)

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating how public schools can collect information on “non-cognitive” student attributes, after granting itself the power to share student data across agencies without parents’ knowledge.

The feds want to use schools to catalogue “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes and intrapersonal resources – independent of intellectual ability,” according to a February DOE report, all under the guise of education.

Read the whole thing.

Like we’ve said before, “If schools are unable to keep data secure, biometric template information is the last thing that should concern parents.” “Secure” doesn’t really apply in the situation described above but the observation that schools already possess very detailed information about students stands.

For the curious: This is an actual biometric template created using one finger, an off-the-shelf fingerprint reader and their freely-circulated software development kit (SDK). It consists of 800 hexadecimal characters.

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

Something similar could be used instead of a PIN number for lunch purchases in Maryland schools unless the state bans the technology.

Now which is more risky to student privacy, those 800 characters which I’ve freely put online and made public, or other types of records schools routinely and uncontroversially* keep?

*Ms. Pullmann seems to find the potential sharing of information without parental knowledge and the chipping away of existing privacy protections that prevented sharing of non-academic information (including biometric information) more problematic than the fact that schools know a lot of non-cognitive details about students.

On another note the mention of “a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists” caught my eye. Within the large and growing list of biometric modalities, I’ve never heard of wrist biometrics. I suspect that this is another example of confusion that arises when “biometrics” and “biostatistics” are needlessly lumped together, a subject we have covered in some detail.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology embarks on ambitious ID program

A cashless society and fingerprint payments are on the horizon (Mail & Guardian)

The programme makes South Dakota School of Mines & Technology the first in the world to test life as a biometrics campus using foil-proof biocryptology that goes beyond a fingerprint to read multiple layers into the skin and detect haemoglobin in the blood.

The patented technology on the back-end turns each finger scan into a series of valueless numbers that change every time the finger is introduced.

Data encryption ensures security, as the numbers can’t be reproduced in a meaningful way, not by merchants, law enforcement, hackers or even Nexus Smart Pay.

SDSMT also recently made news when it was revealed that its graduates earned more upon graduation than Harvard grads.

Those leaving the college of 2,300 students this year got paid a median salary of $56,700, according to PayScale Inc., which tracks employee compensation data from surveys. At Harvard, where tuition fees are almost four times higher, they got $54,100. Those scheduled to leave the campus in Rapid City, South Dakota, in May are already getting offers, at a time when about one in 10 recent U.S. college graduates is out of work.

SDSMT seems to be doing a lot of things right.

Court: Students cannot opt out of ID badge policy

Student Suspended for Refusing to Wear RFID Tracker Loses Lawsuit (Wired)

Sophomore Andrea Hernandez was notified in November by the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio that she won’t be able to continue attending John Jay High School unless she wears the badge around her neck. The district said the girl, who objects largely on religious grounds, would have to attend another high school that does not employ the RFID tags.

She sued, a judge tentatively halted the suspension, but changed course Tuesday after concluding that the 15-year-old’s right of religion was not breached. That’s because the district eventually agreed to accommodate the girl and allow her to remove the RFID chip while still demanding that she wear the identification like the other students.

The Hernandez family claims the badge and its chip signifies Satan, or the “Mark of the Beast” warning in Revelations 13:16-18. The girl refused the district’s offer, sued, and was represented by the Rutherford Institute.

It is clear that the public hasn’t quite come to grips with the use ID technology technology in the administration of (more-or-less compulsory) public services involving children.

‘Another Brick in the Wall’ was written in 1979

Washington Times Editorial: Securing America’s schools

Though the benefits of creating maximum-security schools is questionable, the negative impact on young minds is undeniable. Surveillance cameras would watch a child’s every move from kindergarten through high school. GPS devices would track them, and biometric scanners and identification cards would ensure compliance with all attendance regulations. This normalizes a police state. Instead of learning self-reliance, kids would grow up with a state-supplied — and illusory — security blanket.

Schools knowing where students are and whether or not they are attending class discourages self-reliance? Does using technology for the purpose change its nature?

Just remember ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ was released in 1979. High technology isn’t a necessary (or sufficient) condition for police state normalization.

On another note, and in the wake of recent events, a school system in Illinois is dusting off a previously shelved plan to use biometrics to restrict access to schools to those who have been vetted beforehand:

Dist. 201 plans to launch more safety measures (Morris Daily Herald – Illinois)

The district will also re-investigate biometric thumbprint scanning systems for the vestibule, a program they began looking at a year ago.

If the system were used, all parents/guardians would provide a digital thumbprint during school registration. Along with a photo ID, the fingerprint would be in the district’s computer system. Once inside the vestibule, the parent would scan their thumb and staff would pull up the person’s photo at the same time.

Maryland school halts biometric deployment in lunchrooms

Controversial Carroll school palm scanners discontinued (Baltimore Sun)

School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie announced his decision Wednesday to halt use of the system, called PalmSecure, and to ask officials to look at other options. His announcement came after a meeting with County Commissioner Doug Howard, who cited concerns among parents who worried about possible security breaches.

In announcing his decision, Guthrie said he wanted to avoid alienating what he called a “core group” of a few community members who raised the concerns.

He said he believes the system is secure.

Cases like this are fairly rare.

School administrators should be prepared for a vocal minority to raise security and privacy concerns.

In most cases where schools implement biometric point of sale terminals for school lunch administration, these concerns are overcome for the vast majority of parents through good communication, an opt-out mechanism and making sure that students aren’t enrolled in a system before parents have heard about it.

We just love it. No one wants to go back.

Palm scanners get thumbs up in schools, hospitals (USA Today)

Palm-scanning technology is popping up nationwide as a bona fide biometric tracker of identities, and it appears poised to make the jump from schools and hospitals to other sectors of the economy including ATM usage and retail. It also has applications as a secure identifier for cloud computing.

Here’s how it works: Using the same near-infrared technology that comes in a TV remote control or Nintendo Wii video game, the device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below a person’s skin. That image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.

It’s not hard to see why palm vein scanners are attractive in many applications. Users don’t have to touch anything, they’re fast, and the biometric is more difficult than some others to spoof.

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