Buying Lunch With the Wave of a Hand

Imagine forgetting to give your child lunch money for school.  Don’t worry, now you can load money into the palm of his hand using your credit card.  Just by logging into your account online, you can run a credit card and load your child’s school lunch account that can then be accessed at the end of the lunch line via palm-scanning technology.  Palm scanning technology is currently being used by 50,000 high school and middle school students and there are plans to add about 60,000 more elementary students.  For the extra busy parent, exciting.  But what implications might this have for privacy?  And are there any health concerns?

One parent has opted out of the program due to concerns over privacy violations.  But his general concern is that this technology “anesthetizes young children to recognizing privacy violations later in life.”  Privacy may be a bigger issue however, when considering the various other uses for the technology.  Palm scanners are also being used in hospitals to prevent sharing of information by patients and avoids confusion between patients who share a name.  The more pressing privacy concern might actually occur when this technology becomes commonplace.  Identity theft is already a problem and providing biometric information to a host of business providers could make the issue even more serious.  On the other hand, instead of gaining access to personal accounts via pin codes and passwords that can be easily hacked, biometrics will ensure that identity is secured based not on “what you know,” but “who you are.”

As to health, it appears that this technology does not present a major concern.  The device doesn’t have to be touched, and can scan the palm by simply waving the hand over the scanner.  This sure beats handling a wad of bills and quarters that have been everywhere and handled by everybody.

The USA Today presented the issue in a November 25, 2012 article found here.

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