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Submission + - Fingerprints at School 2

Inda writes: "My daughter, 7, is about to start at a new school that likes to think they excel in technology. They use an interesting system for checking out library books using a single thumb print. When I first heard this, alarm bells rang. The way I understand it, once a fingerprint is compromised, it is compromised forever.

I'm told the children enjoy using the fingerprint system and I would not want to single my daughter out as being different. The alternative to fingerprints are library cards, with barcodes, that are scanned manually.

I am not confident that the school's security is up to scratch. Their website is poorly written in FrontPage by the headmaster, all the staff use the Comic Sans MS font; I'm sure you get the picture. At the end of the day, they're teachers, not security experts. Security is not my field of expertise either.

Should I be concerned? Have I been reading Slashdot too long? Should I put the tinfoil hat down?"
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Fingerprints at School

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  • What do these finger scanners record? Do they record an image of the fingerprint, or does the scanner look for features and report biometric codes from which a fingerprint can not be generated? But if these fingerprint scanners are in use, they might dilute the value of fingerprints. If the police find only the one fingerprint which you use on scanners, doubt may be cast upon such evidence. Finding all ten of your fingerprints would be more conclusive.
  • Kim Cameron, Microsoft's "Architect of Identity", has written about this a couple of times. You might be especially interested in reading "3,500 British schools fingerprinting their children []" over at his Identity Blog.

    You're right that a compromised fingerprint is compromised forever, and some schools are capturing this data without the parents' consent. Also, there's no way the kids can understand the consequences of giving the school these life-long identifiers.

    Check out Kim's Blog (

Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, and a dark side, and it holds the universe together ... -- Carl Zwanzig