T.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.