A plan by school officials in Maryland to scan students’ palms and match them to a lunch account is being suspended after concerns were raised about the constitutional rights of the students.
According to a report from John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, the superintendent in the Carroll County district confirmed that installation of biometric palm readers in the local schools would be halted because of the concerns raised about security and privacy.
“While this is a significant development in pushing back against the encroachment of the surveillance state in the schools, the battle is far from over – in this school district and everywhere else these tracking and surveillance programs are being implemented,” he said.
“Communities need to hold government officials accountable to representing their interests, rather than marching in lockstep with programs aimed at enriching the schools and their corporate partners that don’t make the schools safer or help students learn more but merely advance the surveillance state.”
He said after he had warned the Maryland school offices about concerns, officials halted plans to install more of the palm readers.
The biometric devices scan the unique vein structure in a child’s palm and then match that to school records.
He noted that reports indicated scanners will continue to be used in almost a dozen schools where the installation was finished, at least until a decision is made for the future.
Palm-scanning machines are growing in popularity around the nation, and already can be found in more than four dozen school systems – as well as 160 hospital systems, officials said.
The procedure in Carroll County involved using biometrics to identify students who come through the lunch program. School officials say they are intended to make lunch lines more efficient and make student lunch accounts safer.
Rutherford, which has battled a number of such programs, was asked to get involved in Carroll County after Mike Webb, whose elementary age child attends the system, objected to the system.
Whitehead had told school officials imposing government tracking and surveillance in the schools would desensitize children to threats to personal privacy.
Institute officials also recently jumped into the fray in a dispute in Texas over a student who refused to wear a badge designed for an RFID chip that could track her wherever she went.
Similar issues also have arisen in Florida over tracking methods as well as in New Jersey, where officials said they were going to set up schools with biometrics.