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Thumbprints Used To Check Books Out of School Library 355

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-also-need-a-blood-sample dept.
krou writes "Junior students at Higher Lane Primary in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, are in a trial of a system that uses their thumbprints to check out and return books from a library. The thumbprints are 'digitally transformed into electronic codes, which can then be recognized by a computer program.' The system was developed by Microsoft, and is being trialled elsewhere in the country. NO2ID condemned the system, saying it was appalling, and that 'It conditions children to hand over sensitive personal information.' The headmaster has defended the scheme, saying, 'We have researched this scheme thoroughly. It is a biometric recognition system and no image of a fingerprint is ever stored. It is a voluntary system. The thumbprint creates a mathematical template. All parents have been written to and we have told them what the system is all about. From the responses we have had there has been overwhelming support. We hold a lot of information about children because we are a school. This is no different.'"
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Thumbprints Used To Check Books Out of School Library

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  • Next up (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:00AM (#32418556)

    School bans gummi bears [schneier.com]

    • Re:Next up (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vxice (1690200) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:20AM (#32418852)
      You get what you pay for. This just in $5 fake cameras, you know the ones with a single AA battery that runs a little LED so that the criminal thinks the camera isn't a $5 fake hooked up to nothing, fail to catch criminals %100 of the time. From the way that was written it sounds like the author just doesn't like biometrics and chose the lowest quality systems he could find. I go to a college with a biometrics program and know several people working on what is called "liveness detection" or measures in the systems to prevent fake fingers that would easily foil the fakes that this guy made. The first and simplest, while not the most accurate but simplest never is, way would be to include a temperature sensor and reject and print present with non standard human body temperature accounting for fevers and cold fingers during winter. The next method commonly used would be to apply a charge across the finger, there is a specific range of resistance expected from a human body. Other methods include detecting for perspiration, more sensitive scanners that can see the 3d structure of the fingerprint and many others. Like I said you get what you pay for and that needs to be taken into account. That article you linked to mentioned that you could fool the system with $10 worth of household goods, well what use is that if there is no way you are going to steal $10 worth of books. Who really steals books from a high school library. Security is not about being %100 secure but making it harder and more expensive to break the security than either a) its worth or b) than it is to get the other guy.
      • Re:Next up (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:44AM (#32419216)

        My local Community College library has an even more retarded system than all this... when you check out, you write your name and student ID# on a sheet. The problem is that the first letter, last name, and last four digits of your school id# is your username and the student id# is the default password (no prompt to change it either) into the school system (blackboard, registering/dropping/withdrawing classes, looking at GPA and past grades, viewing and requesting transcipt...).

        This sheet is in complete view and what's worse is the library houses the computer lab and has like 50 computers. I tried telling the librarians what they are doing is completely retarded and got the response "We always did it this way". Which is strange because most librarians I know are forward thinking and security minded. I would have demonstrated with a random name but I didn't feel like getting accusations of hacking, even with my own name so I left it alone. To this day they still do it like this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vlm (69642)

        Who really steals books from a high school library.

        Well, I don't, at least not for myself.

        But, you see, I was an absolute monstrous little hell raiser in HS, back in the olden days, when "glam rock" was new, not retro. I was absolutely bored to tears, unless I was pulling off some kind of secret agent caper, or occasionally just anarchy for the sake of anarchy due to extreme boredom. I won all practical joke wars, and I was a bit of a bastard about it.

        I would not be surprised to discover that certain jerks, cheating ex-girlfriends, bullies, and school per

      • Re:Next up (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @11:08AM (#32419572)
        Yes, but why on earth would they bother to spend that kind of money on something for which they already have a solution? For certain applications, the technology you're suggesting makes sense. But for books at a school library? Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just use a scan system like they do at our public library? Basically when you put a book on reserve a librarian places it in with the ones on hold and then you go pick it up off the shelf, scan it along with your card and are out the door. Sure it's more expensive than even more simple systems, but it's a lot less problematic than conditioning kids to think that it's normal to have to pass a biometric check to check out a book.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vxice (1690200)
          Did we have these people when cards were first used. Oh you are just conditioning them to produce a card to check out a book. Where is the problem there? Biometrics if done right could be cheaper, quicker and more convenient. Students don't have to remember their cards, their fingerprint is always at hand and prevents students from using other students cards. Enrolling students into a biometric system is cheap, cheaper than providing a new card to every student every year. At least over the long run. F
          • Re:Next up (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:04PM (#32422972) Homepage

            "Did we have these people when cards were first used. Oh you are just conditioning them to produce a card to check out a book. Where is the problem there?"

            Consider this a "Give unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's" type situation. If you want to track library books or student attendance or whatever, you have a responsibility to generate a User ID, give it to me, and expect to get it back on request. Same for IRS taxation or Social Security or whatever. If it is stolen or mis-identified then you have the capacity and responsibility to provide a new one that works.

            My biometrics (skin, blood type, fingerprints, iris scans) are personal and private information, existed prior to any government institution, and should not be required to be turned over to said institutions.

  • Big Deal (Score:4, Informative)

    by sensationull (889870) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:03AM (#32418586)
    Big deal schools in the UK and NZ have been using this method for checking out books for ages. You try to get a six year old to remember a pin number or library card. Many also use public barcode lists of users instead due to the cost of fingerprint scanners and in some rare cases privacy concerns.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DeadPixels (1391907)
      Back when I was in elementary school, all you did was tell the librarian your name and she'd look you up in the system. I don't recall if there was anything to prevent abuse of the system - they might have asked for a birthday or something. Either way, this just seems unnecessary more than it is concerning.
      • Re:Big Deal (Score:5, Funny)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:36AM (#32419062) Journal

        Back when I was in elementary school, all you did was pull a card out of the pocket in the front of the book, write your name and room number on it and drop it in a box. There was no "system" because computers were hugely expensive, not to mention being the size of a pickup truck back then. The librarian knew us all by name and if a book wasn't returned on time, she'd come looking for us in class.

        Now, get off my lawn--it's time for Matlock.

    • Re:Big Deal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:17AM (#32418790)
      "You try to get a six year old to remember a pin number or library card."

      Or, you could have an adult help them. Like, a teacher, or a parent, or the librarian. Why are we suddenly expecting 6 year olds to go to the library without any supervision?
    • Re:Big Deal (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:18AM (#32418824) Journal

      This story is about the UK, but maybe it's been used in NZ for ages. And does a school library really need automated checkout? The library at the school I attended from ages 7-11 did not have a librarian, the class teacher wrote the book that you borrowed in a book. The school that I went to from 11-18 had a librarian and either she or one of the sixth formers doing library duty would enter your name in the computer that tracked books. This popped up your photograph, for quick verification. No library card needed.

      The school that I went to from ages 3-7 didn't have a library. Reading age changes quickly when you're that young and so each class had its own reading books, which children could borrow if they asked the teacher. Again, no need to remember a PIN or library card.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        In the US, teachers literally don't have enough hours in the day to meet the requirements in many cases. Now you want them to be the librarian, too? Mind you, my school worked like your school, but I wouldn't say I received anything like education there. It was more like indoctrination. There was no personalized learning, everyone was forced into the same box even back then. I was in GATE (gifted education) and for kids my age participation was limited to using the speed-reading machine (in a group) and doi

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I was definitely trialled at my UK high school, 10? years ago.

    • Re:Big Deal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:33AM (#32419022) Homepage

      You try to get a six year old to remember a pin number or library card.

      Why the heck does a six year old need a library card or a PIN in the first place?
       
      The problem here is assuming that everything must be computerized... for no good reason other than everything must be computerized. When I was six, the teacher pulling a card from the pocket in the book, having me print my name, stamping the card and the book with with the due date, and then filing the card worked just fine.
       
      I'm no luddite or technophobe by any stretch, but sometimes electronic/automated systems are solutions in search of a problem.

      • Gone to is the nostalgia of seeing who checked out the book in front of you. I remember in elementary school having kids finding books that their older siblings or even parents teachers checked out. In their original 5th grade hand writing no less.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by teh31337one (1590023)
      Exactly what I was thinking. They started using thumbprints for the library in my school back in 2001. (It was a UK school)
    • Big deal schools in the UK and NZ have been using this method for checking out books for ages.

      Given the UK's general attitude toward its citizens' privacy, saying UK schools have been doing this for ages doesn't exactly support your position.

    • by Alinabi (464689)

      You try to get a six year old to remember a pin number or library card.

      Yeah, we wouldn't want to do that. It's not like being able to remember stuff is a skill that might come in handy later in life.

  • Hidden agenda (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RobVB (1566105) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:04AM (#32418592)

    I'm fairly certain there's a hidden agenda here. They say it is a voluntary system, but what they mean is that privacy conscious students won't have access to the library. Libraries hold books. Books hold information. Information leads to knowledge. Knowledge is power.

    They're taking the power away from the privacy conscious people. It's a conspiracy, I tells ya!

    And no, I'm not paranoid. It's not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you.

    *looks over his shoulder*

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Thumbprints are personally identifiable. That does not make them private.

      Or are you wearing latex gloves right now?

      Or is it that you think the library should be prevented from keeping a record of the students that they have loaned books out to?

      • Re:Hidden agenda (Score:4, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:17AM (#32418806) Homepage Journal

        Or is it that you think the library should be prevented from keeping a record of the students that they have loaned books out to?

        When I was a kid we were given personal identification. It was just 2 words, easy to remember, with the second word being shared among my family and the first word being unique to my generation in the family. We would share it with the librarians so they could keep track of who borrowed each book.

        I remember it working quite well. Whatever happened to that system?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)

          The librarians got lazy.

          I really don't see what difference you see between a name and a thumbprint, they are both essentially public information that is roughly tied to a certain person. I suppose there is some raving-loony scenario where a nefarious criminal manages to pull a thumbprint out of the database and plant it at a crime scene with other corroborating evidence during a time period where the owner of the thumbprint does not have a decent alibi, but I don't find myself breaking into a sweat over it.

          • "I really don't see what difference you see between a name and a thumbprint,"

            I can go to a court and have my name changed. Where do I go to have my fingerprints changed?
            • by TheCarp (96830)

              Mexican plastic surgeons? Wood shop? I hear people who work in food service moving hot items around quite frequently end up temporarily removing theirs. I mean, they are tiny little groves, it shouldn't really take much at all to abrade them off.
              (I know, I too look at my baby soft 'office worker' hands and cringe too....)

            • by Lumpy (12016)

              your stove.

              Turn on a top burner, set it to high, apply fingertips for about 3 minutes.

              Viola, fingerprints all permanently changed.

              Disclaimer: You will feel a crapload of paint for about 3 months while the 3rd degree burns heal. you may get infections and die. Consult your doctor if you experience fingers falling off.

              for a less permanent solution, sand them off. Causes butterfingers as you lose your ability to grip slippery items.

        • I remember it working quite well. Whatever happened to that system?

          Too many books being signed out by Justin Case, Ben Dover, Rita Booke, etc.
    • Re:Hidden agenda (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:14AM (#32418762)
      Your post almost looks like it could be sarcasm*, but you never can tell on this site, so I want to point out that it's not like libraries were havens for privacy before. You could never just walk into a library and anonymously check out a book: you had to have a library card, and the record of everything you've ever checked out was associated with that card, and therefore, with you. The only difference here is that your thumbprint is being substituted for the card.

      Move along, folks, nothing to see here but Slashdot sensationalism.

      * And if it is, then this post is aimed at the people that modded you Insightful.
      • You could never just walk into a library and anonymously check out a book: you had to have a library card, and the record of everything you've ever checked out was associated with that card, and therefore, with you.

        Well, no there hasn't always been eternal records associated with you - I didn't see my first computerized checkout system until I was well into my teens, and even then I don't think they stored everything forever. Storage costs money, something libraries are perennially short of.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zerth (26112)

        I don't know about your fascist library, but mine only keeps records of what books you currently have checked out.

        Once you return them in good condition, the entry showing you checked them out gets wiped from the system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SleazyRidr (1563649)

          My mother often makes use of the fact that the library keeps a record of the books she has checked out. When she picks one up that looks kinda familiar but she isn't sure if she's read it or just a similar book, she can see if she's checked it out before, rather than reading the first couple of chapters to realize that she actually has read it.

    • by Main Gauche (881147) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:14AM (#32418766)

      "I'm fairly certain there's a hidden agenda here. They say it is a voluntary system, but what they mean is that privacy conscious students won't have access to the library. Libraries hold books. Books hold information. Information leads to knowledge. Knowledge is power."

      I'm fairly certain that Yoda has a schizophrenic brother.

  • by krou (1027572) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:06AM (#32418620)
    ... that it's more widespread [bbc.co.uk] than the article Snip:

    Many schools are fingerprinting pupils without parents' permission, teachers have warned.

    It is thought around 100 schools in the UK now use fingerprint identification systems for registration, borrowing library books and cashless catering.

    But there is no legal requirement for schools to seek parents' consent for using biometric technologies.

  • So the laptops we got for our courses a couple years back had fingerprint readers on them, for you to set up fingerprint login. Toshiba product, I think a Satellite or something similar. Anyways, concerned with privacy, I took a gander on how the information is generated. They pick a series of points, and record tiny bits of information. Which way this line is going, how thick that line is, if it curves, all that little stuff. Next, they take those and encode them into some digital method or another, and at

    • I'm less concerned about faking my prints than I am about false matches. How accurate is this scan and hash method? They only need to lift a fingerprint at a murder scene, run it through the same process and match it to the large database of former US public school students to generate a list of "Persons of Interest" and suddenly you have your life turned upside down.

  • Riiights... (Score:5, Informative)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:08AM (#32418674)

    "All pupils' details are erased when they leave school."

    They promise...this time is true! For real!

    • Re:Riiights... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:32AM (#32419006) Homepage

      Of course, if they really meant it, then they would allow the assignment of absolutely outrageous damages to the school when this is not done. Very simple, you make the school system, superintendent, principal and vice principal jointly and separately responsible for ensuring that the data is erased and removed from any/all backups within 21 days of the student no longer being enrolled.

      If the school is found to be in non-compliance, they shall be jointly and separately responsible to pay damages in the amount of $250,000 to the student or legal guardian, for every 7 day period in excess of 21 days that the information is found to still exist.

      make sure that this applies not only to school controlled systems, but contracted systems in the control of 3rd parties on behalf of the school.

      You put that into place and I GUARANTEE that this will not end up being an issue.

      -Steve

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      Notice they said "details". Not "all information", just the details. As to what is a detail and what is not, the devil is in that.
    • by Sandbags (964742)

      details? As in the fingerprints in the scanning system? Yes, they're deleted. in fact, the entire system is reseeded every year of enrollment, and purged automatically! Why? simple biometric system like this are only accurate enough to get a "good guess" based on fingerprints in a database. The more prints, the less accurate the response.... They remove the old data to make current data more reliable BY DESIGN.

      As for all the OTHER student data, I don't know about there, but here in this state, it has t

  • by DustCollector (903185) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:09AM (#32418684) Homepage

    I briefly worked at a company which used a hand scanner in lieu of a badge. It was unwisely put between your desk and the restroom. It's no secret not everyone washes their hands after relieving themselves, so I avoided eating lunch at my desk unless I had a bottle of hand sanitizer with me.

    Now imagine 4 year olds, touching everything and sucking their thumb, and then checking out a book.

    Technologically, scanners work well enough. Implementation, however, is done by the foolish.
     

    • Now imagine 4 year olds, touching everything and sucking their thumb, and then checking out a book.

      Sounds like a good possibility to train their immune system and have it in working shape when they encounter the first batch of really nasty stuff. Or avoid having it run havoc at the first gush of birch pollen.

    • by dummondwhu (225225) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:32AM (#32419010)
      Well then, we'd better hurry up and get rid of door knobs, vending machines, elevator buttons, and the myriad of other things that a lot of people touch on a daily basis. I'm sure that children aren't already touching each others toys, school supplies, desks, etc. already, though, so good catch on this one. In fact, we'd better hurry up and get them all into bubbles before the swine flu gets them!!

      Or maybe the librarian could just hit the reader with a little sanitizing wipe every so often. Germ phobia is hardly a reason not to do this. Not when a thumb print reader is just one more thing among a slew of others that a lot of children might touch in a day.
  • People misuse technology not the other way around. As long as there are security measures in place and the data is not being used for anything they say it is not then there really should be no concern. You are just identifying these students and like they said schools keep a lot of personally identifying information on hand that could be abused. They also mentioned that the system is voluntary and as for the template thing, that is standard procedure when collecting fingerprints and almost all biometrics
  • by kieran (20691) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:12AM (#32418736)

    As far as I'm concerned, that's enough to move this project from "appalling" to "kinda awesome". I'm not sure what (the otherwise excellent) NO2ID are on about here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not that I'm against this use of thumbprinting, but I wonder how effective the mathematical template is at maintaining privacy. Theoretically even if they don't have the actual thumbprint on file, could they not still check a thumbprint they find somewhere against their student database by running it through the same template and seeing if it matches the result of any of the students' prints? They may not have the students' thumbprints themselves to compare against, but they still effectively have a hash
    • by VJ42 (860241) *

      As far as I'm concerned, that's enough to move this project from "appalling" to "kinda awesome". I'm not sure what (the otherwise excellent) NO2ID are on about here.

      If it works like we've been looking at (I work in library systems) it just takes the thumbprint, turns it into a hash and stores that, then every time you want to take out a book it just matches the stored hashes against the one of the person currently trying to take out a book. No personal data is stored & the thumb print can't be recreated as it doesn't use the whole print, only certain points. It's actually an (unusual) example of Biometrics done right! I donate to NO2ID, I'm going to email them and

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Isn't the whole point to use to in order to identify someone? Presumably, that hash code is associated with your personal record in the library's database.

        As the name implies, NO2ID is against personally identifying and tracking individuals across our society, their concerns are much more broader than specifically biometrics or ID cards. These are mere tools to reach that goal.

                -dZ.

    • by vxice (1690200)
      actually images of fingerprints or any biometric for that matter are ever actually kept. Templates are almost always used, they are simpler to match and use less storage. Think of it as a one way hash, the image is collected and then the template is created. In the case of fingerprints minutia points are noted, details such as the delta point, which is on almost all fingerprints a delta or triangle shaped feature made up of many ridges usually on whirl type fingerprints. Other points of note are where t
    • by krou (1027572)
      I suspect they're objecting to (what they see) as the conditioning of children into handing over what they consider to be personal information without question (as it says in the summary).
    • No image of a thumbprint is ever stored

      And how does that stop me from copying your fingerprint data onto other devices, not to duplicate your fingerprint but to duplicate the data that allows me to identify a particular fingerprint as belonging to you?

  • by Mabbo (1337229) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:13AM (#32418756)
    Your fingerprint, like most biometrics data, is not what I would call "Private information". You leave it lying around all of the place, all the time. Your face isn't private, in fact it's probably the most public thing about you. Your DNA is very much the same: your drop it everywhere. The only thing that makes it pseudo-private is that it's generally a bit hard to obtain- but not really.

    If I were a kid at that school, I'd start signing out a lot of books under a teacher's fingerprint. I'm sure a lot of them have seen the mythbusters episode where they do that sort of thing. It's not difficult.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RivenAleem (1590553)

      Privacy nut: "They are keeping records of all your private information, all your biometric data. We need to stop this!"

      Me: "Your voice is private biometric data. So shut up."

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:33AM (#32419024)
      Do you commonly tag your biometric data with your legal identity? Sure, my fingerprints are left on the counter when I buy something at the corner store, but I do not sign those fingerprints with my name. When you start using fingerprints for library records, you essentially have a convenient database for tying those fingerprints to the people who own them, without the effort that was once necessary to do so (i.e. following someone around, picking through their trash, and so forth).
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:15AM (#32418776)
    I know a couple of schools that use the system, and unfortunately a large number of thumbs are "unscannable". This means they are singled out to carry cards or something else, which (like almost anything else that makes kids stand out from the crowd) embarrass them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tompaulco (629533)
      Imagine trying to match a child's dirty fingerprint to a database.
      In the real world of forensics, a print does not lead you to a single person, but brings up a list of possible matches for a human to look at and evaluate. The same is true in a biometric reader. This is why every biometric meter I have come into contact with also requires you to enter a pin number or other information in order to verify your identity. The biometric data is useless by itself, but once the PIN is entered, it is able to verify
  • LIBRARY CARD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yaDad (925894) <mikem70@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:16AM (#32418786)
    what the hell is wrong with a library CARD. hasnt this been working for years. if you cant keep up with a library card you might have problems later on in life. further than that why not just use the NAME of the student who has the book. IDIOTS!
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      what the hell is wrong with a HORSE. hasnt this been working for years. if you cant keep up with a horse drawn carriage you might have problems later on in life. further than that why not just use the FEET of the person who has to walk. IDIOTS!

  • No opt-out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The problem with bad ideas like this is that there is no way for those kids (or their parents) who think such Orwellian shenanigans set a bad precedent to opt out. Some idiot administrator has made the final call, and now, if you want to use the library, you have to conform. This is what schools teach. In addition to mediocre math, science, art, music, and physical education; schools primarily exist to teach the value of conformity. You must agree to abide by arbitrary and often quite stupid administrat

    • by VJ42 (860241) *

      The problem with bad ideas like this is that there is no way for those kids (or their parents) who think such Orwellian shenanigans set a bad precedent to opt out.

      Wrong RTFA:

      She confirmed it would be extended to all pupils, adding that parents would be given the choice to opt in or out.

      Also, as I mentioned elsewhere, these things usually store a hash of parts of a thumbprint, not images of full thumbprints; I'll bet this is the same (the article even says no image is stored). It's no where near as Orwellian as you make out.

  • Has already announced that schools will no longer be allowed to fingerprint pupils for any purpose without their parents' consent.

  • The flaw that most articles on biometric identification, be they fingerprints, retinal scans or other, is that you only have a limited number of immutable keys to choose from. While it may not be an issue in a school setting, if anyone is able to reconstruct the fingerprint or retina picture from the stored data, or at least a fake fingerprint/picture that is functionally equivalent to the real one, it's game over. You only have two eyeballs, and ten fingerprints.

    I'd rather a system that allows me to change

    • Toeprints? :P

    • by vxice (1690200)
      Except, at least in a quality system and since quality is expensive an expensive system, what you are relying on is not necessarily that no one can make a copy but that no one can make a good enough copy. There are plenty of measures in quality systems that check to make sure the fingerprint is from a real finger, from a charge across the finger when it scans expecting a certain resistance from a finger with perspiration which quickly absorbs back into the skin after death to 3d scans of the ridge pattern
  • Pervs (Score:5, Funny)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:19AM (#32418834) Journal

    It is a biometric recognition system and no image of a fingerprint is ever stored[...] The thumbprint creates a mathematical template.

    How can we be sure there isn't some perv getting off to our children's mathematical templates?

  • One thing that would prevent the dissemination of fingerprints to authorities would be to hash the output of the mathematical fingerprint transform. Like passwords on a Linux box, a hash will (almost always) allow an instance of a fingerprint to be matched to a person without giving the exact fingerprint itself. In addition, don't store any other data about the person. To resolve late fines/missing books, require all graduating students to go to the library one last time and get a sort of "This person retu

    • by Kijori (897770)

      One thing that would prevent the dissemination of fingerprints to authorities would be to hash the output of the mathematical fingerprint transform

      I suspect the transform takes care of that anyway - it effectively creates a hash from a small number of points on the fingerprint. I'd be amazed if you could recover a print from it.

      In addition, don't store any other data about the person.

      Why? This is a school library - I don't really see that there's much risk of the data being used for nefarious purposes, and any anonymity would be illusory anyway since the librarian and teachers will probably know the kids' names. And storing information about the users would be enormously useful - for example to chase up lat

  • I work for a software company that produces something similar for school cafeteria use. The points of reference on the print are so minimal that we've had to work very hard just to get a decent read. The chances of someone using the code outputted by our algorithm are nil. It is completely unusable data except by our program. The bottom line is that that unless the program is retaining an image of a child's fingerprint, there is no privacy concern here. Anyone who says otherwise is wallowing in their o
  • we can match the fingerprints up to the user account that was logged in when the pictures were taken!
  • Owww! Charlie bit my finger off!
    And he’s using it to check books out of the school library!

  • by RapmasterT (787426) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:45PM (#32421050)
    Honestly, I don't get the almost pathological paranoia people have surrounding the concept of privacy, without regard to the reality of it. Your fingerprints are not private, you leave thousands of them unsecured around you every day without a second thought...exactly why they should NOT be used as a security key, but that's a different discussion. People should be worried about the improper use and implementation of "security" methodologies, not acting like tinfoil hat wearing nutjobs because someone wants to store the fingerprints they leave on every doorknob in the city.

    Same goes for Social Security number paranoia. News flash people, your SSN is NOT private, it is not a secret, it is an identification number...nothing more. No different from the street address on your house, just more permanent. The problem comes from institutions USING it like it was secret, instead of a password or PIN. The solution is not to try to belatedly make SSN something it isn't and won't ever be, the solution is to refuse to accept companies using public information (your SSN number) as if it were secret.

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