May 31, 2013

Why, how thoughtful! Why on earth would parents be upset about having identifying characteristics for their children be scanned into a database owned by a company over which they have no control? Silly parents!

Parents are outraged after learning a Florida school district scanned students’ irises last month without obtaining permission, WFTS-TV reports.

Polk County School District installed eye-scanning cameras on school busses at three locations—an elementary school, middle school and high school. The technology was put in place as part of a pilot security program, but many parents didn’t learn about it until children brought up the scanners at home.

"I thought it was kind of creepy, it's kind of like big brother looking after your kids," Emily Palmer, a Polk County parent, told WFTS.

The school district partnered with Stanley Convergent Security Solutions to try out its EyeSwipe-Nano technology.

Rob Davis, director of support services for Polk County Schools, said the program is designed to track student movement as they get on and off the bus. Illustrating this rather dystopic vision, Davis explained, “Within seconds, we could tell parents, 'Yes, they got on bus No. 0750. They got on the bus at the high school at 2:05; they arrived at their bus stop at 2:45.”

Parents received a letter on May 24 announcing the EyeSwipe-Nano program, adding that students would need to obtain permission from the principal to opt out. Oddly enough, the letter announced a launch date from the past, May 20. By the time families received the letter, students on 17 school busses already had their eyes scanned.

Irate parents tried to call the school, but had to wait through a long Memorial weekend to get answers. Polk County Schools issued an apology Thursday, and put the program on halt. Meanwhile representatives from Stanley Security Solutions says the company destroyed all the information obtained without parents’ permission.

"I would have had the same questions, so I apologize to those families because that was not our intent. The intent was not to cause chaos or confusion with the parents," Davis told WFTS.

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