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United Kingdom Technology

School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria 231

An anonymous reader writes with news about a school in England that has introduced a cashless cafeteria system that is raising some privacy concerns among some. Stourbridge students will soon be able to pay for their lunch without searching their pockets for change. Redhill School has spent £20,000 updating its dining facilities and introducing a cashless catering system. The system will allow parents to deposit funds into students catering accounts, to be debited by the pupil's biometric fingerprint scan at the point of sale. Headteacher Stephen Dunster said: "The benefits are that pupils are less likely to lose cash, parents know their children are using their dinner money to buy nutritious food and there will also be a system to alert staff if students are purchasing food that they may be allergic to."
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School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    biometric scanning of faces by a rent-a-cop's eyes and comparing it to a 2d-scan of that same face on a plastic card the students are holding up before his scanning eyes.

    He'll everybody who was sick, who didn't eat their vegetables, who made out with whom and who ate 3 puddings although he's supposed to be on a diet.
    He'll share it with the janitor, the cleaning ladies, his wife and their friends.

    The costs, 20.000 is about the rent-a-cop's pay, so after the second year, there's a net benefit for the school t

  • We had (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cyborg666 ( 2488892 )
    We had biometrics in our school 15 years ago, in Sweden.
  • just prepay for food (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alen ( 225700 ) on Sunday September 14, 2014 @11:47AM (#47902357)

    in my kid's school in the USA the only way to pay for school lunch is to send a check once a month. no check, no lunch, no lost money, no tracking

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is, all kids REQUIRE a lunch regardless of the parent's ability financially or mentally to prepay for them. It's a function of education to keep kids alive, not to mention focused.

      • There are discounts for lower incomes, and even then its only $35 a month. Parents who dont pay like me send kid to school with lunch from home

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          UNLESS THEY DO NOT. The kid still needs to be fed for school to be functional.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday September 14, 2014 @01:16PM (#47902881)

        All kids require... what kind of socialist nanny state bull is that?

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        It's a function of education to keep kids alive, not to mention focused.

        No... it's not at all. The function of education is to educate kids.

        Their parents have a responsibility to see that their kids are fed and their health requirements are met.

        The school should simply eliminate all the POS crap and require parents to pay.

        Failure to pay will the a disciplinary infraction against the parent; the student may be suspended, and child protective services may be contacted.

        There is no right to care for

  • Great idea! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 )
    I'd like to see this system implemented in The States. It basically circumvents the school yard bully from stealing lunch money from would-be victims.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday September 14, 2014 @11:52AM (#47902387) Homepage Journal
      Now bullies are going to beat them up to take their fingerprints. That might be less fun.
    • by MiKM ( 752717 )
      Why not just slap a barcode or magstripe on student IDs and use that? The IDs can obviously, but it's a lot easier to prove that the ID Jimmy is trying to use doesn't belong to him.
    • I'd like to see this system implemented in The States. It basically circumvents the school yard bully from stealing lunch money from would-be victims.

      When I was bullied, my lunch money was never the target. It was always my pride they were after.
      Teach your kid to have pride that's not dependent on the views of others and suddenly bullies stop being a problem.

      • by Cabriel ( 803429 )

        When I was bullied, neither my money nor my pride were the target. They just wanted to look strong in front of their friends, and I did not have the strength of muscle to fight back.

        • When I was bullied, neither my money nor my pride were the target. They just wanted to look strong in front of their friends, and I did not have the strength of muscle to fight back.

          That's when you just start screaming "Assault! Assault!" as loud as possible.
          Again, your problem was pride. You didn't want to seam weak so you just took it and pretended like they weren't hurting you.
          let go of the pride, embrace revenge, scream for an adult and then get them expelled.

    • by Lisias ( 447563 )

      I'd like to see this system implemented in The States. It basically circumvents the school yard bully from stealing lunch money from would-be victims.

      The only thing that can (and will) circumvent the school yard bullies from bullying is this [youtube.com].

      Self-defence is, always, the best defense.

      Oh, the victim overreacted? Educate him/her , punishing him/her for force abuse if it's the case. BUT NEVER punish the self-defense.

    • It already has been in places. My high school did this 7 or 8 years ago.
  • Sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I think this latest story of "progress" falls into the "You have zero privacy now, get over it" category.

  • This is just a variation of what is used in many schools in the USA. Kids have an account that their parents put money in. Then, in the cafeteria, kids type in their account number to pay for lunch. This new system eliminates kids having to learn and remember their account number.
  • There already is a server that works, without using biometrics: https://www.mylunchmoney.com./ [www.mylunchmoney.com] My kids' schools use it, and we've never had any problems.

    • Well, its a server, and its up, but:

      www.mylunchmoney.com. uses an invalid security certificate.

      The certificate is only valid for the following names:
      *.mylunchmoney.com, mylunchmoney.com

      • www.mylunchmoney.com. uses an invalid security certificate.

        https://www.mylunchmoney.com is fine. The problem is the period after the "com", likely intended to end the sentence,

    • My kids' schools use it, and we've never had any problems.

      ... that you know of. I bet the lunch people have to deal quite often with student who have forgotten or miss-remembered their user id and/or password.

      • I would rather have that, than to have my son fingerprinted.

        • Finger scanners reduce the pattern to a number. There are several algorithms to do that encoding. Scans from different algorithms can not be matched. Finger print scanners are very different than taking fingerprints.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2014 @12:12PM (#47902521)

    Go to Disney World and buy any multi-day pass, and your fingerprints are digitally scanned. I'm sure they would be happy to turn over the data to law enforcement if requested. The prints taken from when you were 5yrs old could be used in an investigation decades later.

  • My kids bring their lunch. No, we don't want an account, but you gave them each one anyway. No, that one weird charge which appeared isn't theirs; perhaps someone mis-typed the uber-secure 5-digit code. No, we don't want to apply for reduced lunches, no more than the last 15 times you asked us.
  • Norovirus anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by detritus. ( 46421 ) on Sunday September 14, 2014 @12:44PM (#47902717)

    Awesome! Let's have everyone use their index finger, touch the same spot and then eat a bunch of food with their hands. What could possibly go wrong?

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      Probably a lot less then what would go wrong if we tried to live in a completely sterile environment.

  • The benefits are that pupils are less likely to lose [money stored in the fingerprint system than money carried in their pockets]

    That is a spurious claim. The security on money stored in pockets and exchanged by physical transfer of a monetary token is fallible, but so is the security on the cafeteria electronic wallet system. Home Depot [slashdot.org], Supervalu, and Albertson's [arstechnica.com] are very recent examples of major compromises, and the number of small scale compromises is enormous.

    Fingerprints can be faked, networks can be

    • by Kijori ( 897770 )

      I'm not sure it's a spurious claim when you consider the circumstances that they're using it in.

      The users are children, meaning that they are much more likely to lose or forget their money than adults. The system is (presumably) closed, so that the only thing you can do with the funds is buy school lunches (and maybe ask for a cheque payable to the kid's parents), so it's not a very tempting target for attack.

      So while it's true that "merely moving from physical currency to electronic currency does not make

  • Sigh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday September 14, 2014 @01:14PM (#47902869) Homepage

    I work in IT in English schools.

    Welcome to a decade ago.

    I've worked in several schools that have biometric library systems and the move to cashless canteens has been underway for years (I've never happened to work with one, but that's not because they aren't around).

    It is sold as preventing bullying, stopping you having to pay for the cards, etc. The privacy implications came up 10-15 years ago. Nobody, especially parents, really cared.

    Hell, five years ago, my daughter's creche had fingerprint entry (I refused to take part, mainly because I saw it as insecure given I could gummi-bear the reader and enter as whoever came in last, but I was apparently the first to complain).

    Old news people. It's already in schools all over the UK. There was minimal protest.

  • I used to walk home and my Mum would make lunch for me and any chum I brought along.

  • My children won't have to carry small amounts of cash, won't be allowed to buy snacks, and won't be allowed to buy food they already know they're allergic to? And in return they can spend their formative years being indoctrinated that being fingerprinted by the authorities every single day of their lives is the way we should all live our lives? Where do I sign up?

  • Back then, Biometric was replaced with a "Smart Card", basically todays credit card with a "smart chip" inside and photo ID of its owner.

    Our parents would add money to the account which is linked to the user. Then the user just inserts their "smart card" when paying for food at the cafeteria. The operator would check the photo ID on the card, job done.

    Biometric is just an upgrade to that system, which worked really well nearly 20 years ago lol. Good times, and years ahead.

  • A finger scanner looks for certain features and reduces the result to a number. There are many different algorithms to do this encoding. Even different versions of the same model use different algorithms and fingers have to be re-scanned. The bottom line is that, in most cases, finger scans from different systems can not be use to identify someone between systems.

  • Not sure why you all are just finding problems with it.

  • Or you could just have the kids learn a 4 digit PIN, like the majority of schools in America do...

    Honestly, the cashier has a keypad, the kid just types in their PIN after the cashier adds up their purchase, and the account is debited (unless the student is eligible for a free meal, in which case the student does the exact same thing, but no money is deducted from an account - thus removing the stigma of being from a low income family, at least as far as lunch in the cafeteria is concerned)...

  • If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding!
    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?!

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