File this under Give Them an Inch and They’ll Take a Mile.
Another move from the Surveillance State
A Pennsylvania school district is biometrically tracking students who receive free or reduced-cost lunches via thumbprint scans and sending the information to the federal government.
By September, all students in the Hazleton Area School District will receive federally subsidized free lunches regardless of economic background:
In order to receive free or reduced priced lunches, parents must fill out an eligibility form. Because in some homes, parents cannot read materials sent home in English, and in other households, parents may choose not to read the materials or just plain ignore them, the USDA concluded that millions of children eligible and in need of free lunches, simply were not getting them.
The agency’s conclusion was that is better to provide free lunches to all children, since this approach would assure that every needy child gets a lunch.
However, prior to considering the free lunch for all initiative, the school district invested in the aforementioned biometric tracking software:
Last year, the Hazleton Area School District invested in biometric software to track the usage of the program by students who receive free or reduced-cost lunches. Students’ thumbprints were scanned each time they received a lunch. This data provided by the biometrics was made available to the district and federal government for tracking purposes.
EAG News notes that there’s no indication as to “how the data was being protected, if it was identifiable to an individual student or how long the federal government would retain it.” Unsurprisingly, this has several parents irate. Parents of students in Massachusetts’ North Adams Public Schools, another district that adopted a thumbprint scanning program, sounded off when they found out what was going on:
“No child should have to have a body part scanned to get a meal! There was no problem with those swipe cards that we were never made aware of,” wrote one parent on Facebook, who said she’d send her child with bag lunch before allowing a fingerprint scan, according to the news site.
“Let us not allow our children to allow privacy to become a thing of the past. Our duty is to educate and protect them, not to catalog them like merchandise,” parent Cara Roberts writes in a letter to the mayor and the news site.
“Our duty is to teach them to protect and care for their bodies. What message are we sending when we tell them their body is a means of identification, a tool for others to use to track them?”
Of course we’re not surprised. The state will not rest until it has us all under surveillance. Currently we are spied upon when we travel, shop, take a shower, drive, attend school, and now, eat.