"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Will Your Child's Iris Scans Head for the Clouds....Like the Army's?

What is the Learning Registry gathering and sharing?

Why is the Department of Defense partially funding the Learning Registry?

The practice of iris scans being taken on children for "bus information and safety" was confirmed by the Polk County Board of Education.  These scans were performed and parental consent was not asked for nor given before the scans took place.  The company has assured parents the information has been destroyed but how does a parent know if this is true?  If information is sent to the cloud or stored elsewhere electronically, is it ever eliminated completely?  Who/what has access to this student biometric information?  Is there a digital footprint (or eye scan) student dossier hovering somewhere?

Gathering of biometric information and storing it in the cloud is not confined to the education industry.  The Army is also utilizing iris scans for data.  From Army’s Fingerprint and Iris Databases Head for the Cloud:

The next time U.S. soldiers snap a picture of your eye or scan your face, they’re likely to store all that personal, physical data in the cloud. 

The Army’s Intelligence command recently awarded a sole-source contract to bring the classified Defense Cross-Domain Analytical Capability, a database storing various kinds of security-relevant information the Army collects, onto the proverbial “cloud” of distributed servers and networks. Among the focuses of the project: “integrating Biometrics into the cloud,” according to a description of the contract.

The effort “involves the Entity management and tracking system for Biometrics/Human Terrain Facial recognition capability (photos, video) and edge-to-Cloud Enterprise Messaging (Corps/Division Node to/from Handheld,” says the Army Intelligence and Security Command. “Human Terrain” refers to an Army program in Iraq and Afghanistan that sought to map unfamiliar tribal networks and other social structures. Integrating that into an intelligence database is a major shift, but more on that in a second. 

"Human Terrain" might be an apt name for tracking students as well.  Student iris scans and fingerprinting provides unique identifiers for students ostensibly for safety and speed of lunch lines.  But how else could biometric information be used in the future?  Could it be used for intelligence purposes or for other tracking purposes?  Could students be part of a "targeting cycle" in the future? 

...the military is into biometrics in a big way. It’s created and maintained biometrics databases containing literally millions of iris and fingerprint scans from Iraqis and Afghans. The Iraq database has outlasted the Iraq war: it resides permanently at U.S. Central Command in Tampa.
Evidently unsatisfied with the clunky ViewFinder-esque mobile tools for collecting biometric data in the field, in February the Pentagon inked a $3 million research deal with California’s AOptix to check out its smartphone-based biometric identifier, built on an iPhone and iOS. Then there’s all the Pentagon’s additional research into identifying people by the unique pungencies of their body odor and the ways they walk.

It’s worth noting that the architects of the Army’s star-crossed “human terrain” mapping, a much-criticized attempt at warzone anthropology, swore up and down that their interviews with tribal leaders had nothing to do with gathering intelligence. That distinction had much to do with the distaste many anthropologists had with working alongside the military, but architects Montgomery McFate and Steve Fondacaro said they weren’t spying because they weren’t part of the military’s “targeting cycle.”

“[G]iven the vast collection and reporting effort that supports lethal targeting, using HTS [the Human Terrain System] to fulfill this function would be redundant and duplicative,” they wrote in 2012. (.PDF) “Whereas [human intelligence] requires highly specific information about individuals in order to capture or kill, social science, as practiced in HTS, seeks broad contextual information for nonlethal purposes.”

The biometric information for the Army identifies adversaries but using this information for social science purposes requires broad contextual information to be valid.  Think about the combining of student iris scans/fingerprints/ healthcare information with educational/personal information data tracking.  Will the 400 plus points National Education Data Model data set be combined with student biometric information?  

Does this Army scanning and fingerprinting align itself with the educational practice of student tracking?  There is a relationship between the Learning Registry and the Department of Defense:

The Learning Registry is a joint effort of the Department of Education and the Department of Defense, with support of the White House and numerous federal agencies, non-profit organizations, international organizations and private companies.
Key members of the collaboration are:
This effort, begun in 2010, is creating a set of technical protocols as a platform for innovation by content authors and aggregators. Applications built to harness the power of harvesting and analyzing the Learning Registry data will allow educators to quickly find content specific to their unique needs. The Learning Registry will store more than traditional descriptive data (metadata)--it will also allow sharing of ratings, comments, downloads, standards alignment, etc.
This effort has been driven by a call for increased openness, sharing and use of digital learning resources as described in both the National Education Technology Plan and National Broadband Plan. The specifications have been developed to support learning organizations from across all education sectors.

What is the Learning Registry?

The Learning Registry is a new approach to capturing, sharing, and analyzing learning resource data to broaden the usefulness of digital content to benefit educators and learners. The Learning Registry: Use, Share, Find, Amplify.

The Learning Registry is not a website or repository… it's not a search engine… and it's not a replacement for the excellent sources of online learning content that already exist…

The Learning Registry is an open source technical system designed to facilitate the exchange of data behind the scenes, and an open community of resource creators, publishers, curators, and consumers who are collaborating to broadly share resources, as well as information about how those resources are used by educators in diverse learning environments across the Web.

Is this why FERPA regulations needed to be changed by Arne Duncan?  If the Department of Defense is contributing to an educational system of data gathering, wouldn't the DOD want access to determine the effectiveness of the system?  Do you think it would also want access to the data?  Will your child's data eventually be stored at the US Central Command in Tampa?  Did parents ever give consent for any of this biometric information be taken from their children?

Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Logue, G (June 2013). "Will Your Child's Iris Scans Head for the Clouds...Like the Army's?".  Retrieved (date) from the Missouri Education Watchdog site: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/


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