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Posted: 8/19/2001 3:40:56 AM EDT
The Washington Post Sunday, August 19, 2001; Page B06 Your Child on File Editorial http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28022-2001Aug17.html WHAT EXACTLY does the District hope to gain by collecting the names, addresses, pictures and fingerprints of schoolchildren aged 2 to 14 in a central computerized database? The mayor's office, which launched the project, says its main purpose is to help search for missing children. But the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which urges that children be fingerprinted, says it recommends that "only parents should maintain this information" -- not governments -- because of the potential for privacy violations. Why, then, send officials into the schools with laptops to gather this information from students -- voluntarily, to be sure, but with an official imprimatur that cannot help but exert a certain pressure? Sherryl Hobbs Newman, the head of the Department of Motor Vehicles, says the project is merely a public service, a technological add-on being offered along with the digitized driver's license system the DMV purchased last June from Polaroid. But having the capability to construct a sensitive new database is not necessarily a good reason to do so. Collecting large amounts of information invites use of that information; District officials have already suggested uses that range from tracking a child's consumption of social services to keeping tabs on school attendance. The potential for misuse of such databases, whether by unauthorized access or merely by overzealous bureaucrats, should always be minimized by carefully drawn restrictions and offset by some significant benefit. In this case, there's scant evidence of adequate official attention to either the restrictions or the benefits. The new data would be protected under existing restrictions on access to DMV data, including a federal law prohibiting its commercial sale, but specific guidelines for handling data on children have yet to be written. As written, the proposal would allow a card to be issued at the request of a child's parent, guardian or school -- something that could erode parents' ability to opt out. A resolution amending DMV regulations, now before the D.C. Council, will allow the project to go forward if the Council does not act to block it. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) has said she will hold hearings on the measure, and she should seek to pin down the exact conditions under which this material can be collected and used. Other members should likewise think carefully about the prospect of having children's names, faces, home addresses and fingerprints retrievable at the touch of a button. Vendors of powerful new technologies will always have an interest in pitching them to cities, but so far this is a technology in search of a rationale.
Link Posted: 8/19/2001 5:08:41 AM EDT
[size=4]Welcome to the Brave New World (You've Been Here All Along)[/size=4] Eric The(Don't[u]Even[/u]GetMeStartedOn'DigitalAngel'Crap)Hun[>]:)]
Link Posted: 8/19/2001 8:52:09 AM EDT
We've been doing this in Illinois since I was a tyke. Cops show up at the school, take everyones picture, fingerprint everyone and write down your Social Security number and home address. They put all of it into a handy envelope and keep it on file. So far there have been no complaints....
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