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Finger Scanner Tracks Lunch Line Purchases

September 7, 2006

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Students at schools in Oregon are letting their fingers do the talking for them at lunch.

Specifically, Morrow County students have traded in their meal cards for finger scans. A "Touch 'N Go" device allows each student to swipe a finger and have that scan identify him or her and then charge that student's account. Before, students had to punch in meal card numbers on a keypad. Incorrect entries and forgotten account numbers contributed to delays in line.

More and more school districts are using finger scans to identify students not only in the lunch line but in the nurse's office, for illness tracking and medicine dispensation. Other schools use such finger scans to track attendance.

Some privacy advocates worry that finger scans are an opportunity for identity theft. The scans are not total fingerprint imprints, however, but scans only a few identifying points on the print. Those scans are then converted into computer algorithms, which are data that are stored and compared to student lunch-line scans.

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