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"Have your thumb ready to ride the bus"

Via Drudge comes this report:

The Pinellas school system is ready to approve a new technology that uses student fingerprints to keep track of who is riding school buses.

Beginning in the fall, the fingerprint system would identify students as they board and leave. The goal is to ensure they are getting on the right bus and getting off at the right stop.

School officials say the $2-million project will save money and dramatically improve safety for students, whose fingerprints will serve as authorization to board and disembark...

"This is Management 101 in transportation. Now we will have good, factual information that we can use in a very timely manner to make our services as good as humanly possible," said Terry Palmer, the district's transportation director...

"If my child was in elementary school, I would welcome this with open arms and say, "please, please, tell me my kid got on the bus and got off the bus,"' said School Board chairwoman Jane Gallucci...

Superintendent Howard Hinesely said the district also plans to apply for a federal Homeland Security grant that could reimburse some of the cost. [LW: Holy shit!]...

"I wouldn't be concerned about a privacy issue, because I know the School Board is very concerned about not letting anyone get hold of that information," [concerned parent Michelle Bianco of St. Petersburg] said...

But school officials say the safety benefits of the project far outweigh concerns about civil liberties.

"I think that's just another safety factor so we know the child was on the bus and got off the bus," said School Board member Lee Benjamin, who supports the project but said he wants to consider it further.

Who the hell are these beings saying these things, pod people? Have they been paid by our alien masters to lull us into thinking that constant surveillance is acceptable? Are they shills? Is this a complicated and expensive Swiftian satire? A performance of a hitherto undiscovered George Orwell play?

Or, are they "normal" Americans who just have no idea how bad they sound?

And, why the hell would our venerable Department of Homeland Security give a grant for this program? Is one of their mandates to get people used to Big Brother? Nothing like starting them young.

The company whose system is featured in the graphic is Geospatial Technologies.

They worked with the school bus operator Laidlaw to develop the system.

Laidlaw and Pinellas are mentioned here and here.

If someone can find, say, a link between Laidlaw and one of the school officials that would be just peachy.

Also, based on the many other articles about privacy encroachments from my Privacy category, the pod people who speak out in favor of systems like this just don't know how bad they sound:

  • "From a security standpoint, this provides a great advantage to assure that there is a safe environment at all times." (multiple cameras on planes; tapes would be stored for a decade.)

  • "It's just mind-boggling what the possibilities are," said Sam Bonasso, who runs the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration. It is overseeing the Ohio drone research. (drones to fight traffic jams)
  • "We are research and development people. We think about what's possible, not what the government will do with it. That's somebody else's job. And this isn't a weapons system." (analyzing peoples' gait)
  • "We're fortunate to live in a small, safe town. But in this day and age, you can't take safety for granted," (from 'N.J. Schools Testing Eye Recognition')
  • "We think we are the first (school) in the country to use this," [the schoolmaster said of iris scanning his students so they can get their lunches]. "But this is not a James Bond school for spies. ... This is not science fiction. This is technology that exists."

Privacy · Wed, 03/03/2004 - 23:41 · Importance: 1