Saturday, June 04, 2005

Library News

You know things are going the wrong way when a library installs a system that requires a fingerprint in order to access the library computers. Naperville (Chicago area) Public Library patrons will have to do just that by the end of the summer. They signed a $40,646 contract with U.S. Biometrics Corp. to install fingerprint scanners on all 130 of the library system's computers. Library patrons will have to have a scanned fingerprint on file with the library and have their print scanned whenever they want to access a library computer. If a patron objects to fingerprinting a staff member could log them onto a computer. "'I'm sure we won't turn anybody away who refuses to use the technology, but in all honesty, it will be more cumbersome,' [Library Deputy Director Mark] West said." More cumbersome? What could be more cumbersome than this whole fingerprinting thing? The reason they are going to the new system is the recent discovery that library patrons were logging onto the compuers using the library cards and passwords of friends or relatives. So instead of, oh I don't know, requiring a picture ID, they have to go overboard and require a fingerprint? What will be next? Retina scans? DNA testing? In an age where major banks can't seem to keep customer information secure, West tells everyone not to worry, the library will keep the information private. The library people have good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions as the saying goes. (Note: registration is required to view the article. Use BugMeNot for a sign in and password) Meanwhile, the idea of anonymous library cards is gaining momentum. An anonymouse card would require a cash deposit, sort of like the ubiquitous store gift cards. Your name and information would not be attached to the card. When you checked out materials from the library your card would be debited a certain value until you returned the items. The idea behind this is that your library records would not be trackable by nosy FBI agents. It of course favors folks with money and those into conspiracy theories and paranoia. Instead of "buying in" to anonymous library cards, why doesn't everyone send a friendly missive to their sentors and congressional representative urging them to repeal the Patriot Act? Instead of getting around the opression, shouldn't we be working to overthrow it? (both article links from Slashdot)