Biometrics and identification technologies are key parts of the emerging global police state as governments begin implementing searchable databases for personal information. As America transitions into a militarized police state, government systems using this technology are becoming increasingly common.
While privacy concerns have become more common in mainstream discussion, most Americans are likely unaware of the effects that biometric identification systems will have on society. Recent examples include the controversy about the Transportation Security Administration rejecting driver’s licenses as identification at the airport for travelers from states that have not complied with the Real ID Act of 2005. The Real ID, passed after the September 11th terrorist attacks, mandated security upgrades including digital biometric standards for identification documents.
Department of Homeland Security officials announced in January that they would not enforce the deadline until at least 2018 as more than half of the states and U.S. territories have not fully implemented changes to comply with the law. However, since April 1st, DHS has been rejecting foreign travelers that do not have chips encoded with biometric information known as E-passports. The changes have resulted in many complaints from travelers denied entry, especially in the United Kingdom as reported by Mirror.
School districts in America have been implementing biometric identification technology for routine tasks, such as allowing students to buy lunch with no cash or card, and to track them getting on and off the school bus. This technology has privacy advocates worried that school districts are collecting too much personal information on students and developing dangerous privacy habits in children.
An EAG News article featured on Drudge Report suggests that discussion about these trends may be increasing, as Drudge often receives 25 million visitors daily.
EAG News cited a report from suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald about a local school district that recently installed a new biometric system in cafeterias to scan the thumbprints of students for lunch purchases. According to the manufacturer PushCoin, the fingerprint recognition system will automatically deduct payment from the student’s account and record what was purchased. Parents can log in at any time to see balances, fund the account, or track what their child has purchased.
District 304 technology network manager, Victoria Fladung said parents have not raised privacy questions, and just a few of the school’s students do not use the touch ID system. District 304 schools have more than 6,000 children enrolled, and it was reported that other districts in the state are considering the PushCoin’s program.
“It’s good, because you don’t have to carry your own money or anything like that,” fifth-grader Quinlan Bobeczko told the news site. “It’s just there. Your thumb is easy, because you just have to put your thumb on (the device),” one student told the Daily Herald about the new Orwellian program.
PushCoin Chief Executive Officer Anna Lisznianski, who is also a District 304 parent, disputed the idea of privacy invasion stating that law enforcement agencies would not find the fingerprint images collected by her company to be useful because they purposely are not detailed.
The Daily Herald’s article described opposing concerns about the long-term effects on the children, quoting Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the Chicago American Civil Liberties Union stating that the program develops. “Encouraging students to use their thumbs to buy lunch is not a good long-term lesson for them regarding the importance of privacy, security and protecting personally identifiable information,” Yohnka said.
“I think it undermines the notion of really thinking about the importance of your biometrics as a matter of privacy,” Yohnka told the Daily Herald.
The Daily Herald also quoted University of Washington professor Laura Kastner, who expanded on Yohnka’s police state concerns. Kastner, a professor in the departments of psychology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, describes the process of subconsciously training people to see biometric identification as normal.
“At some point, Big Brother is going to have a lot of information on us and where is that going to go?” Kastner said. “And that’s just for parents to consider. But from a kid point of view, they have no idea what they’re giving up and, once again, the slippery slope in what’s called habituation.”
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