Sunday, May 22, 2005

Fingerprinting at the Library?

The Naperville Public Library has contracted with U. S. Biometrics to provide a fingerprint recognition system to allow patrons access to the Internet computers. Currently, the system for internet access asks for the patrons' library card and pin numbers. However, an investigation following an incident involving the viewing of pornography by a patron discovered that people would often use another patron's login information. For example, a child whose parents have selected filtered Internet access for him might use the unfiltered access provided with the login information of his friend.

This technology brings about many questions regarding privacy, confidentiality and freedom of information. What would you think about this if you were a staff member or a patron of this library? One of my questions is this: how long does the computer retain information about sites visited by a specific patron? This would be the same question, regardless of the mechanism for identification. U. S. Biometrics states in the article below that the fingerprint scans can not be used to recreate an actual fingerprint and then searched in a law enforcement database.

This should be interesting to follow in the future.

Here are some articles for to check out for more information. Even though this news was picked up by the Associated Press, no information was available on the Naperville Library webpage as of this posting.

American Libraries online.
The Chicago Tribune.
The Washington Post.
U. S. Biometrics

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