From the June 2007 Idaho Observer:

Parents oppose "fingerprints for lunch" program

On April 4, 2007, The Boston Globe reported that Schools in Taunton, MA, "…this spring could become the first in Massachusetts to have students pay for lunch by scanning their fingerprints…"

The plan sparked opposition among parents worried about privacy and possible identity theft. The plan was initially announced by the superintendent of Taunton schools to be mandatory, but became "voluntary" after a committee, formed to address the opposition, determined parents could sign their children up to participate in the program. Under the plan, "schools will scan two fingerprints from each student, which will be converted into an individual number linked to a meal account. When they buy lunch, students will tap their finger on a reader that brings up the account. The cashier will enter the items and deduct the cost," The Globe reported.

Proponents of the new system claim it will speed the cafeteria line, possibly let parents monitor what children eat and lift the stigma from poor students who receive free or reduced-price lunches. They say the system is secure because the fingerprint image is never stored, only a numeric representation of it.

From The Globe: "Malvern, Pa.-based identiMetrics, a leading vendor, said hundreds of schools nationwide use its system, including nearly a third of the school districts in West Virginia and a private enrichment center for children in Wellesley, Mass.

"Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said in a letter to Taunton Superintendent Arthur W. Stellar that teaching students to be casually fingerprinted is ‘the wrong lesson.’"

The ACLU is leading a national legal effort to discourage the passive use of fingerprints as ID because of the potential for identity theft and fraud.

"I’m worried about identity theft," said Teresa Heim , who has three children in Taunton schools. "I don’t feel that my kids should be fingerprinted to get lunch."

Responding to the constituents’ opposition to the fingerprint lunch system, Mass. State Senator Marc R. Pacheco , (D-Taunton), said he is considering legislation.

"Other states are facing similar battles. Iowa passed a law in 2005 effectively banning finger-scanning technology in schools. Illinois is considering regulations, and a school system in California has nixed fingerprinting," The Globe reported.

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