Biometrics in Education

FingerprintT.H.E. Journal has an article discussing the legal issues involved in using biometrics in a public school. If you aren’t familiar with these devices, they are used to authenticate a person using a personal attribute that cannot be stolen or duplicated. Typical methods involve finger prints, retinal scans or facial recognition. The idea is that your fingerprint is always with you (for your use) and someone else cannot easily steal it (for his use).

If you have tried to get kindergarten students to remember a password, you probably already know how biometric authentication can benefit young children. Try giving a password to a first grader and telling her not to tell anyone the “secret” word. Most first graders can keep a secret for about two minutes.

The article brings up privacy issues that may halt the use of biometrics in schools. Some states have already passed legislation that restricts biometric use. They require the school to jump through technical “hoops” if a biometric is used to collect personal information from a student.

The article suggests that fingerprints could be used to disclose health information of an individual. This sounds a little too much like Gattaca to me.

I’m scratching my head. The first question I have is “what good is a database of identification markers?” If you look at the data stored by a fingerprint biometric device, the whole fingerprint isn’t there. Only enough points to uniquely identify that user are saved. From that data, someone cannot recreate the original fingerprint.

If I have a database of all fingerprints I could do like Tom Cruise in one of the Mission Impossible movies and make a glove with someone else’s fingerprints. I suppose that could be worth something someday. Today it could log me into a first grader’s session of Reader Rabbit.

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6 Responses to Biometrics in Education

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  3. Kevin Creel says:

    I work for a biometrics research and development company called M2SYS which is one of the leading providers to the education market. You really hit the nail right on the head. Fingerprint images are not stored. Instead an identity template is created that represents a few key areas of a fingerprint. Not only that, but these identity templates are all in a proprietary, encrypted format that are useless outside of the system. But even beyond all that… why would ANYONE go through the steps necessary to obtain these identity templates? If you can spoof a fingerprint reader, your time is probably worth more than getting a free lunch or checking out a library book at an elementary school. :)

  4. Kim Cameron, Microsoft’s Identity Architect has recently been blogging about biometrics in schools. He concludes: “People have to be stark, raving mad to use conventional biometrics to improve the efficiency of a children’s lunch line.”

    Why, you might ask. Because although it’s true that these systems don’t store an image of a fingerprint, that’s largely irrelevant. What these systems store is a biometric template; it’s rather like the difference between a drawing and a photo.

    In the future, fingerprint templates will be used to authenticate passports, bank accounts, etc. They can also be used to rapidly link different databases and to build up a disturbingly accurate profile of an individual without their knowledge or consent.

    For details, see: http://www.LeaveThemKIdsAlone.com/facts.htm

    It may be premature to surrender our children’s lifelong
    biometric identity for a couple of chicken nuggets.

  5. Kim Cameron, Microsoft’s Identity Architect has recently been blogging about biometrics in schools. He concludes: “People have to be stark, raving mad to use conventional biometrics to improve the efficiency of a children’s lunch line.”

    Why, you might ask. Because although it’s true that these systems don’t store an image of a fingerprint, that’s largely irrelevant. What these systems store is a biometric template; it’s rather like the difference between a drawing and a photo.

    In the future, fingerprint templates will be used to authenticate passports, bank accounts, etc. They can also be used to rapidly link different databases and to build up a disturbingly accurate profile of an individual without their knowledge or consent.

    There are international standards to ensure that biometric templates from different manufacturers are compatible.

    And it is impossible for anyone to guarantee that the level of encryption provided on these systems will be unbreakable during a person’s entire lifetime, which is the level of security required.

    For details, see: http://www.LeaveThemKIdsAlone.com/facts.htm

    It may be premature to surrender our children’s lifelong
    biometric identity for a couple of chicken nuggets.

  6. biometric01 says:

    Much has been discussed about Identity Theft, user ID’s and Passwords stolen or hacked, credit cards being used without the owners knowledge and so on. Now there is a safe way of protecting your passwords and identity online from being copied, stolen and hacked by keyboard trojans, using your biometric fingerprint and face recognition, and even voice, to log on to web sites. By simply scanning your finger or face or voice you can log on to a web site, log on to your computer, and even encrypt files and folders. No more worrying about who might hack into your online accounts or even your email. No more remembering passwords or using the same passwords on many sites. This is an exciting new innovation from myBiodentity and they have about fourteen products that are enabled with biometrics including email encryption, password manager, virtual disk, and many more. You can read more at http://www.mybiodentity.com

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