At the Highlands campus of White Plains Middle School in New York, students are now using finger scans in order to receive a school lunch. Tapped as a way to make school lunch lines move faster, many parents and privacy advocates are worried about the students’ identities.

“People were a little nervous, but they’re not in the cafeteria when we are trying to serve 373 students at a time — to get them all seated, fed and out for recess especially with the kinds of things they were using before,” the principal, Diana Knight, said.

In the end, only five of the more than 1,000 students opted out, and the family of one cited germs, not privacy abuses, as a concern, Knight said.

The rest of the students can now press a forefinger to an image pad to pay for their food. The older methods, swiping a debit card or entering a personal identification number, or PIN, also remain available.

The school is using technology from School-Link Technologies, which claim a fingerprint can’t be made of the information because the data is saved as a set of numbers. It remains to be seen as to whether the information can be reverse engineered to get the fingerprint.

Michigan and Iowa currently have laws prohibiting the use of biometrics among school students unless ordered to do so by a court of law. The United Kingdom currently has several schools using biometrics for lunches as well as in the library and for registration. The EU is using it to identify refugees. Hong Kong, however, has deemed the use of biometrics on students as too invasive and scrapped their program several years ago.

The New York Civil Liberties Union for the Lower Hudson Valley and the EFF question the use of such technology as a means of softening up children for eventual, ubiquitous use of biometrics as surveillance tools.

“It’s a new technology so people are a little bit uncertain about it,” she said. “But I think as it becomes more widely used — and they see that some of what they’re concerned about isn’t coming to be regarding privacy and how the finger scans are used — I think people will become a lot more comfortable with it.”

And this is precisely the point. If you force people to use these technologies when they are small and cannot understand the implications of said technologies, they will think it’s cool and not understand why others are so concerned. Biometric identification will become widespread, but only because it will become required, forcing those who wish to opt-out, no option at all.

Members of the Chaos Computer Club have been able to clone the digital security ID cards that some German airports use and then used them to access all airport areas [German] [English]. They used an RFID reader that cost less than €200 to scan a valid card. The scanner was then able to emulate the card.

Officials at the Hamburg airport admit that this is a vulnerability, but they are quick to point out that cards are not the only means of security at the airport. This, however, still does not address the problem. The system dates from 1992, which is definitely out of date, and was meant for access to low-risk places, such as schools and supermarkets, yet airport officials seem to not be taking the issue seriously.

Given that the cards allow persons to roam secure areas at the airport, they should be very concerned. The cards could allow a person to gain access to the cargo hold of an airplane. One could easily plant a bomb in that area with no one the wiser.

Whois.com hacked

It appears that whois.com has been hacked. A message at the website states that NetDevilz has hacked their site. Screenshot below.

AT&T is watching you

AT&T voluntarily spied on customers for the government when other companies refused to. They were complicit in illegal spying and got away with it. The warrantless wiretapping bill was passed, complete with immunity from civil litigation for AT&T.

Today, it’s legal for any telecommunications company to do this. Since AT&T is a first tier ISP, your internet traffic is likely to be routed through their servers at some point.

Here are some photos of AT&T that I found surfing the web.

From Flickr

From imgur

From imgur

From flickr

From Photobucket

Uncut video footage shows how four police officers brutally beat a black suspect during a traffic stop. Patrolman, Jeffrey M. Asher, hit the suspect in the face with a flashlight. Another officer calls the suspect a nigger.

Patrolman Asher was suspended for six months without pay in 1997 when he was caught, on video, kicking a different black suspect, who had already been handcuffed, in the face. He was also involved in another incident in 2004 when police dragged another black man, who was in the early stages of a diabetic seizure, out of a car and beat him unconscious on the pavement despite the pleas of a witness who tried to tell the police what was wrong with the man.

It shows Jones being hit at least 15 times by one officer swinging a metal flashlight while two others wrestle with him on the hood of a police car. In the police report of the incident, one of the officers states the struggle ensued when Jones became violent and grabbed one of the officer’s gun and began to pull it.

Jones suffered fractures to the bones in his face that needed reconstructive surgery, according to his father, Melvin Jones Jr., who supplied the copy of the video to The Republican. His son also sustained a broken finger that required two pins and is now partially blind in one eye.

Jones, who, according to the police report was employed as a deli clerk at a supermarket in Holyoke, has pleaded innocent in District Court to charges resulting from his arrest. They include three felony counts of possession for marijuana, crack cocaine and Percocet, resisting arrest and malicious damage to a motor vehicle, a police car.

The police report states that the officers recovered 38 “rocks” of crack cocaine, 38 Percocet tablets and eight bags of marijuana. He is due back in court on Feb. 3, according to his public defender Jarod Olanoff.

Mr. Jones has been in trouble with the law before, however, the response from the police does not warrant the action taken. Mr. Jones’ past troubles should also not be an issue here. The issue is the unwarranted beat down of a man and the repeated civil rights violations by the police, particularly Patrolman Asher.

At the time of the incident, Mr. Jones was a passenger in the car. The car was pulled over for a dragging muffler. The driver was guilty of driving with a suspended license and told to find a licensed driver to take her home. She was not arrested. The only suspicion the police had of Jones was that he was “acting unusually.”

Even if he is found guilty, that is a decision for the courts. It’s not a decision that the police can make on the spot where they can then say a beat down is needed. The police in this matter are just as guilty as Mr. Jones.

Uncut video: Arrest of Melvin Jones III, November 27, 2009
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