Biometrics ban passes hurdle in FL Legislature

SANFORD, Fla. - A bill proposed by State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, has passed a major hurdle in both the House and Senate. It would ban schools in Florida from collecting biometric information from students.

An aide to Hukill told Local 6 the bill cleared the Senate Criminal Justice Committee in a 5-1 vote. Now it goes to one more committee in both the House and Senate before it could reach the floor of the legislature.

Hukill's bill would ban schools from collecting information such as fingerprints and retinal identification, which some districts use for attendance or food service.

Seminole County explored a biometric-based program from 2007-2011 but has since ended the program, saying it was too expensive. At seven schools, students bought lunch with their fingerprints.

Hukill said she worries the biometric information is too susceptible to would-be hackers and based the legislation on her concern for the privacy of students.

Anne Marie Dunphy, chief financial officer and co-founder of Identimetrics, a company that creates biometric technology, said the bill is an "overreaction." She said her technology doesn't retain a student's full fingerprint, just points on the finger, so it's less likely anyone could do anything harmful with the information.

She also said biometrics protect privacy, replacing ID cards or PIN numbers that could easily be lost or forgotten.

Identimetrics said schools in Pinellas County use biometrics, and forcing a school district to abandon the technology already installed would waste thousands of dollars.

Hukill filed the bill last summer and expects it to pass this legislative session.

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