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Schools Scanned Students' Irises Without Permission 342

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-seeing-eye-to-eye-with-parents dept.
schwit1 writes "Parents in Polk County, Florida are outraged after learning that students in area schools had their irises scanned as part of a new security program without obtaining proper permission. Two days before their Memorial Day weekend break, kids from at least three different public schools — Bethune Academy (K–5), Davenport School of the Arts (K–5, middle, and high school), and Daniel Jenkins Academy (grades 6–12) — were subjected to iris scans without their parents' knowledge or consent. The scans are essentially optical fingerprints, which the school intended to collect to create a database of biometric information for school-bus security."
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Schools Scanned Students' Irises Without Permission

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  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:17AM (#43872231)

    You'll lose both, and deserve neither.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:35AM (#43872547)

      You'll lose both, and deserve neither.

      The dead horse is starting to stink. keep beating, though, if it makes you happy.

      We are a police state in the US now. The excuses are terrorism, drugs, child porn, whatever - and there's a loud minority of people who want that shit and a silent majority who just grumble on the rare occasions when it bothers them - like having their nail file being confiscated at the TSA checkpoint.

      Those of us who saw it coming have lost. There is nothing to do now except wait for the day that it gets so bad - if ever - that regular people start pressuring their politicians to put the cat back in the bag. I have given up. I point and say, "This is where we are headed!" and I get the look of a cow chewing in its cud.

      John Q. Public is worried about his job and his standard of living. He has his big screen TV for his football games that he got on sale for $799 and is estatic but there's this niggling feeling that he's getting poorer. His salary hasn't gone down but he's feels poorer. More money comes out of his pocket for health care, groceries cost a bit more, and it costs $30 more to fill his tank - even though there's an oil boom in the US right now.

      And we expect him to care about about some pissant Florida town that's scanning the irises of kids eyes for "security".

      • by alen (225700) on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:26AM (#43873245)

        is he any worse than Jon Q geek rooting his phone every night and downloading new ROM's for no reason?

      • It is the responsibility of all good citizens to actively prevent the slide into a police state. Once that becomes unavoidable, it is the responsibility of all good citizens to end the police state as quickly as possible. If you believe that you are in a police state, then now is not the time to wait for the day that it gets so bad. Now is the time to make it that bad.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "Once that becomes unavoidable..."

          It has.

          "...it is the responsibility of all good citizens to end the police state as quickly as possible."

          Just keep in mind that the only real job of any revolutionary is to make the state worse. To do little things that the state will over-react to by clamping down hard on every one and every thing. This gets more and more cud-chewers pissed off, and turns them into revolutionaries as well.

          Because no revolution succeeds until the revolutionaries outnumber the revolted-aga

      • by Ultra64 (318705)

        I think you forgot to add "WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!"

    • People never seem to learn that security requires people buying into it. If you shove it on them it will fail.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:07AM (#43872985) Homepage

        We're not really talking about security hear. We're talking about control.

        It's a subtly difference concept.

        • by cusco (717999) <brian...bixby@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:40AM (#43873415)
          Actually we're talking about neither, in this case. I work in the physical security industry, and have worked with iris scanners. They're actually one of the better biometric systems out there, EXCEPT that unlike fingerprints iris patterns change as children are growing. This is a rather inappropriate use of a technology developed for use on adults who have a (relatively) stable iris pattern. It's a ridiculously inappropriate application of a technology developed for two-factor authentication, since it's going to be used in place of the current proximity cards. Biometric technologies should not be used alone, they're too undependable.
          • If it's true that the iris patterns change significantly as children grow, then this would seem then to be a good thing to use for ID kids from the perspective that the ID method would "expire" after some period, making it no longer useful after the original reason no longer exists. This would be different/better than fingerprints that would be useful forever.

            This is not to suggest that that I'm necessarily in favor of mandatory biometric ID screening. But if there was a biometric indicator that was relia

    • by darkonc (47285) <.moc.neergcb. .ta. .leumas_nehpets.> on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:12AM (#43873069) Homepage Journal
      Security?? WHAT security?

      If some kid is intent on shooting the driver and everybody else on the bus, do you really think (s)he's gonna stop for an eye exam before going hog wild?

      And if it's some PTSD-suffering ex-marine blowing up the bus, it's gonna be the same situation -- even if the attacker DOES stop to look in the scanner.

      In this case, you get NOTHING for your lost freedom: no security, no safety, no real knowledge after the fact ...

      NOTHING

      • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:36AM (#43873373) Journal

        If some kid is intent on shooting the driver and everybody else on the bus, do you really think (s)he's gonna stop for an eye exam before going hog wild?

        And even if he does stop for the eye exam what will it confirm? The columbine killers were both students at the school they shot up (surprise!), so such a system wouldn't have stopped them.

        Database thinks, yep, Harris and Klebold are on the bus.

      • by lexsird (1208192)

        Of course there is gain, but I don't think we like where it is going. Take a look at the movie "Minority Report" and the daily mechanics of interaction with technology it portrayed. An iris scan was a fast biometric measure they could track every aspect of a person with, where they were, what they purchased, what interested them.

        Think of how entities such as Amazon track our browsing of products and try to anticipate our needs, making suggestions for us. Think of this expanded to every aspect of life. Every

    • by jythie (914043)
      I think in this case neither is on the table. Someone got to buy cool but useless tech. This is more of a case of someone using taxpayer money to make it look like they were 'thinking of the childrens' without actually having any actual effect.
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        And I bet the Headmaster went on a few nice jollies before he or she signed the contract - that is the problem with decentralizing every thing much easier to bribe individual schools/towns as there is no effective oversight.

        I bet that Headmaster who over saw that spying on underage kids via laptop cameras is still working - In the UK he woudl have been sacked and banned from ever working with Children and Vunerable adults again (this is the opinion of two head governors that i know)
  • by iggymanz (596061) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:19AM (#43872265)

    pro-tip: when buses are hijacked or children kidnapped, it will be an adult that does it. As for recognizing kids, the driver can work off a paper with thumbnail pictures

    • What you're missing is that a government body has scanned biometric information from people and that information will never ever be removed from the system. This is how they, in a nutshell, put a barcode on every human.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:28AM (#43872419) Journal

      pro-tip: when buses are hijacked or children kidnapped, it will be an adult that does it. As for recognizing kids, the driver can work off a paper with thumbnail pictures

      I wouldn't put it past some of the older students(grades 6-12 certainly would include a few) to be overtly dangerous; but some iris-scanning nonsense also entirely fails to address that, since a student will be an authorized user and sail right through...

      It really doesn't make much sense at all. Even if you wanted to play some electronic-orwell attendance tracking game, iris scanning is both expensive and invasive compared to, say, mag stripes on student IDs.

      Is somebody's cousin the vendor? Does somebody in admin or on the school board jerk off to Minority Report every night?

      • mag stripes on student IDs.

        You're underestimating the extent to which the kids will subvert a system.

        • by geekmux (1040042) on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:00AM (#43872897)

          mag stripes on student IDs.

          You're underestimating the extent to which the kids will subvert a system.

          Yes, and I'm also failing to understand why any of this shit is truly necessary, since it would appear for the most part (99.9999999% statistically?), over the last 50+ years of busing students to/from school, this hasn't been a justified necessity until now, in an era where taxpayers can be bent over at will to pay for greased palm programs.

          And we're stupid and apathetic enough to re-elect them.

          • Well, I grew up in the 1970s, and for the 50+ years before that, people hadn't needed computers in their home.

            Also we used to play games in the street.

            Things change.

            I am playing devil's advocate here. I tend to doubt there's cause to justify such a system. But let's have real arguments about it, not false ones.

            • by cusco (717999)
              The actual reason is because too many school districts were getting money from the Dept. of Education for students who never showed up for classes, so the congresscritters connected with one of the mega-database companies declared that the schools had to prove that the students were actually attending school x-many days of the school year. This is how they prove it.
          • At least they are greased palms.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:36AM (#43872565)

      As for recognizing kids, the driver can work off a paper with thumbnail pictures

      I am having a hard time understanding why even this is necessary. What problem are they trying to solve? If my daughter wants to go to a friend's house after school, she gets on her friend's schoolbus with her and goes to her house. Some of her friends occasionally ride her bus to our house. The bus driver didn't ask or care. So far this has resulted in no deaths or maiming.

       

      • I graduated high school in 2006, but that's basically how it worked for us. If we were going to get dropped off somewhere else or ride a different bus, we just had to give the main office a note ahead of time, which they passed to the relevant bus drivers. It was a simple system that worked well. We didn't need any school ID, every student had at least a dozen teachers that could vouch for their identity if it was necessary.

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          I went to high school in the 90s. I took my city's local public transportation home. When I felt up to it, I would run half a mile through the city to catch the early transfer and get home half an hour earlier. Biometricly secured school buses that drop you off in front of your home? Pussies...
          • I went to high school in the 70's. We had to push the damned bus uphills. Both ways.

            • by cusco (717999)
              I went to school in the 70s, but got the crap beat out of me on the bus by the jocks and the stoners so often that I biked or walked to and from school until I got my drivers license and a car. An hour and a quarter walk was better than getting punched out in front of everyone yet again.
      • So far this has resulted in no deaths or maiming.

        Well it might not at your school. But kids do go missing. The article says that not a single day goes by in the district without a parent enquiring where their AWOL kid is. It might be as innocent as going to a friends house without thinking to phone home. But it might not.

        • by tibit (1762298)

          I'd say it's the parents' problem. If the district is too stupid to defend themselves from stupid parents and their stupid kids, someone needs to be replaced at the dsitricty. Technical solutions to people problems usually don't work.

          • Bright kids go missing as well as stupid ones. Kids are kids, and they tend to be thoughtless and they misbehave. And nothing in the intelligence of the parent is going to change it. And no amount of intelligence is going to tell them whether the kid has been thoughtless, disobedient, or been kidnapped.

            Just calling people stupid is no answer to anything.

        • Well it might not at your school. But kids do go missing.

          Yup. This has happened to my daughter several times. She didn't come home on the bus as expected. This is how I dealt with it: I dialed her cellphone number. When she answered, I asked her where she was, and she told me.

          For parents that don't trust their kids with cellphones, and think their kids are too stupid to get on the right school bus, they could strap a bright orange cone on the kid's head with the school bus number printed on it.

          Either way, once school is over, I don't see why it is the school

        • by Merk42 (1906718)

          So far this has resulted in no deaths or maiming.

          Well it might not at your school. But kids do go missing. The article says that not a single day goes by in the district without a parent enquiring where their AWOL kid is. It might be as innocent as going to a friends house without thinking to phone home. But it might not.

          And iris scanning prevents this from happening because...?

      • by idontgno (624372)

        am having a hard time understanding why even this is necessary. What problem are they trying to solve?

        The problem they're solving is an unholy combination of over-the-top hover-parenting and "internal passport" movement control on the part of government, summarized as: "We will know where you are at all times, and you will be where we know you are supposed to be at all times."

        Freedom of movement, like most other freedoms (thought, speech, faith) is a problem for control freaks. Your freedom impinges on t

        • by cusco (717999)
          Actually the program is so that they can prove to the Dept. of Education that they actually have X-many students attending classes every day and be reimbursed properly. The effect ultimate effect is indeed what you say, children are being trained to present ID everywhere for everything, but that's not why these programs are being put into place.
    • pro-tip: when buses are hijacked or children kidnapped, it will be an adult that does it. As for recognizing kids, the driver can work off a paper with thumbnail pictures

      Neither of which address the problem being targeted. This is about kids going missing. Parent wonder's why Jonny hasn't arrived home, school knows what if any bus they got on and where they got off. Kid gets on school bus, doesn't arrive at school, school knows kid's gone AWOL.

      A low-wage bus driver could be given thumbnail pictures and be required to check the kids on. Which would slow things up. But good luck on making sure the right kids have been ticked off then leaving the bus. That's like trying to hol

    • by Speare (84249)
      Per the article, it wasn't so much security, like denying unauthorized people from riding. It was security, like having logs that confirm or deny that Mommy's snowflake got on the bus just like they should have. It's still bullshit, it's just a different kind of bullshit.
  • by Mystakaphoros (2664209) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:20AM (#43872285) Homepage
    Meanwhile, down the hall, students were studying the Bill of Rights.
    • Which, sadly, the "o" in "Bill of Rights" was concealing an iris scanning camera.

    • by JustOK (667959) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:23AM (#43872335) Journal

      Illinois high school teacher John Dryden has been reprimanded and docked a day’s pay after informing his students of their Constitutional rights before administering a school-mandated survey about “at-risk behavior.”

      http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/29/high-school-teacher-punished-for-informing-students-of-their-fifth-amendment-right/

      • by Mystakaphoros (2664209) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:34AM (#43872517) Homepage

        Illinois high school teacher John Dryden has been reprimanded and docked a day’s pay after informing his students of their Constitutional rights before administering a school-mandated survey about “at-risk behavior.”

        http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/29/high-school-teacher-punished-for-informing-students-of-their-fifth-amendment-right/

        Sadly, it doesn't surprise me. When I was teaching high school journalism, I got repeated verbal orders to infringe on student free speech, which I was supposed to follow up on without a paper trail so that admin couldn't be connected to the violation. Got in a fair amount of trouble for "failing to do so" a few times. Needless to say, I don't work there anymore.

      • by stewsters (1406737) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:40AM (#43872617)
        That teacher is more awesome that he knows. I hope the kids paid attention to the lesson they received that day.
      • Glenn Beck loves big government, as long as it is bombing people he doesn't like or arresting them for drugs that he doesn't like. The deficit? It is horrible, just horrible, unless they are printing up money for war.

        He had a real chance to make a real difference with Ron Paul, with hours to talk about him on the radio...but the few times he mentioned him was to crap all over him. Oh the ironies that Beck just likes the Constitution when it works in his favor.

        A pox on him.

      • by microTodd (240390)

        Thank you so much for sharing this. I immediately went and signed the petitions in his support. This man is awesome.

    • by Zalbik (308903)

      And just out of curiosity, what right was being trampled on here? The Bill of Rights actually says very little about the right to privacy.

      Don't get me wrong, I think that what the school is doing is a waste of time and money. I skimmed the article and the school claims it's basically being implemented so they know where and when students get on and off the bus. i.e. if Little Johnny get's off at the wrong stop, the school can now figure out which stop he got off at and when. Presumably, they could e

  • by nopainogain (1091795) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:24AM (#43872361)
    the kids went home and said "mommy, the school scanned the pupils today".
  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:28AM (#43872425) Journal

    Where are these parents when it's time to protest actual privacy violations?

  • Overkill Much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sargon666777 (555498) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:32AM (#43872485) Homepage
    Really? We need military levels of record keeping to keep track of school children getting on busses? Seems wasteful, and overkill.. If you need an ID (which I dont think you should for school busses) then a simple picture ID should do.. Growing up my bus driver (and the kids) knew all the kids getting on and off anyhow..
  • by RobertLTux (260313) <robert.laurencemartin@org> on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:37AM (#43872581)

    i wonder how hard it would be to make a contact lens that caused the scanner to throw an error (or worse was a backdoor into the system).

    Scanning Image
    Processing
    Identified Krystal Rayne Dawnmeadow approved SYSTEM ADMIN ALL ACCESS

    (and of course daddy would have told his favorite minion exactly what to punch into a terminal to .....)

  • "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
  • Unlike RFID, iris scans can't be used to remotely track your movements, and unlike fingerprints they can't be used to identify your presence after the fact. (Well they can but only with your permission. Even good security camera mostly produces pictures that makes identifying faces difficult. It certainly can't take a sharp enough image of your iris from a distance.)

    • by fermion (181285)
      Unlike RFID, which is a perfectly reasonable way to implement the safety and record keeping issues that parents want, iris scans cannot be replaced when the information becomes compromised. For instance, when the school database is hacked and the biometric information is leaked, we cannot the change the eyes. Once compromised it is always compromised. This is the general issue with biometric scans. it does not fail gracefully. And of course iris scans are RFID squared. You can't leave your eyes behind.
    • by SengirV (203400)

      Really? It's a government entity collecting unique biometric data to be stored in perpetuity for no defined purpose. No communication with parents, no direction as to it's use, and school officials employing the typical school system no-think by saying, "I do what I am told". The whole thing smacks of slimy Big Brother tactics.

      But then again, you sound like one of those types who like to allow minors to undergo surgical procedures without the parent's consent. It takes a village, absent the parents p

      • by lxs (131946)

        Are you seriously suggesting that invading the sanctity of the body is in the same category as taking a close-up picture of their eyes?

      • First, Iris scans aren't necessarily stable over time.

        Second, we're working on distance [consumertraveler.com] viewing of irises.

        Not that this changes the fundamental issues of parent neglect, apathy and over arching government. But as usual, the government is proving to be a bunch of technological dullards.

      • by alen (225700)

        they are verifying the kids got on and off the school bus

        if something happens to a kid the parents will be the first ones to sue the school and say that the school is responsible for keeping track of their kids, etc, etc ,etc

        except when the schools start to do this there is outrage

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      what's the upside to it? apart from them having a db of the irises after doing it, that is.

      what's the downside to them keeping a db of penis lengths? nothing. so let's measure everyone!

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday May 31, 2013 @10:58AM (#43872865) Journal

    Schools can say it was for "Reproductive Health" reasons.

    No, there is no concern about over reaching governance!

    • Schools can say it was for "Reproductive Health" reasons.

      I guess that lends credence to the phrase 'being screwed up to your eyeballs'.

  • I'm going to break this down into a few questions and statement: 1) You know what I really like about this kind of argument is when a few years later a kid gets kidnapped and the one thing they're missing are fingerprints! 2) Why weren't the kids smart enough to ask why? In Kindergarten I would of spoken up and said No. 3) Why does anyone care? So they have an iris scan, what good is it to them if you never do anything wrong! In one way it's a really good thing they took these because now they can autom
  • I'm all for parents and schools knowing who is getting on the bus and such, as a basic answer to the age old question "Do you know where your kids are right now?" question. But this is insane. Are there really that many kids that a bus driver or school has to have Bio-metric information on their students? Is that data destroyed when the student leaves the school to go to another school, drops out, or graduates? Who else has access to such data? It's bad enough that there are smart chips in Student ID's

  • Stop giving up your civil liberties so readily everytime the news starts churning out the Terrorism drama with every "think of the children" campaign. Life is always going to have it's dangers and none of the DHS/TSA stuff to date has saved us from any of it*. The only reason TFA has happened is because people let it happen.

    [*] - http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/01/abolish_the_dep.html [schneier.com]

  • by fufufang (2603203) on Friday May 31, 2013 @11:25AM (#43873237)

    This iris scan device is expensive, ineffective and excessive.

    But there are money for the contractors, bribe for the school administrators. Everyone is happy, right?

  • Changes constantly, as it is what controls pupil size. Don't get how this would be very good at positive ID, especially if lighting is a variable.

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