Legislators in Florida are taking into consideration new steps to standardize the use of palm print, eye scanners and other forms of biometric identification. Issue arose on the heels of a situation last year in which parents were outraged to learn that their students’ irises were being systematically scanned before they were allowed to board school buses in Polk Country School District in Florida.
More than 700 students’ biometric data was collected in total before the project was put to a stop. It was reported that neither school administrators nor parents were informed of the collection of data before scans started being administered to the elementary school kids.
As a result of the commotion, the Florida Senate’s education committee is currently in the midst of discussing a bill which would require all school districts to adhere to new policies for the collection and storage of student biometric data. Such a measure mainly necessitates parental consent for global biometric data gathering.
A similar Florida case took place in 2011 when students’ palm prints were scanned in order to verify their identities in school lunch lines. The palm scanners worked by mapping the unique vein layouts humans have beneath the skin.
The director of food services at the school stated that the new measures expedited lunch lines and freed students from having to carry ID cards. This biometric project, currently in use in Pinellas County, is only one of an extended list of similar endeavors that span 50 school districts and ten states. Analysts and product design manufacturer describe these early adopters as pioneers for the quickly shifting sands of the security and identification landscape.
By and large, biometric data is covered by the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, ensuring that parents maintain certain rights over the records of their children. However, the act has not received significant attention from states pursuing biometric cataloging of students for lunch lines, field trip and other uses.
It’s worth stating that the palm and iris information is kept distinct from federally archived, police-related information such as fingerprints. Data is not traded or passed at all from private agency to government … yet. Concerned parents are worried that scan-addicted society might be right around the corner, but proponents of the technology hold steadfastly to the idea that proliferation of biometric use will do nothing but streamline longstanding problems and manage students’ time better.
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