Thursday, November 18, 2010

Touching your privates, Three

Around the end of October, city officials of Boston announced plans for an all-in-one supercard to be distributed to students.
[T]hey can use [the card] to ride the MBTA [the local mass transit system], withdraw books from city libraries, play sports, attend after-school programs at community centers, and access meal programs at their schools.

The so-called BostONEcard will also be used to take attendance and may eventually serve as a debit card, among other potential uses.
It includes multiple bar codes, an RFID chip for use on the MBTA, and the student's picture. The intent is to expand the current test program at one school to include all public school students in the city's middle and high schools.
“This may not be Big Brother, but it certainly feels like Little Brother," said Carol Rose, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts executive director.

She questioned whether the information could be subpoenaed by law enforcement agencies or whether it could be surreptitiously slipped to marketing companies.
There would have to be "stringent privacy protections," she said.
“The question is who has access to this database, which when combined reveals a treasure trove of personal information about our children, including what they read, what they eat, where they go, and how much money they have. That information is highly confidential."
I've got a better idea: Ditch the cards. Personal privacy should not be secondary to administrative convenience.

Footnote: Boston schools are not the first to go for the technological quick-fix of the all-knowing card.

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