The Good, the bad, the ugly

Each week News editor Sandra Rossi sifts through the inbox for the hottest news tips which earn an exclusive GBU mug for the tipster.

Good

Not this week

Bad

The US House of Representatives last week passed a bill that lets ISPs reveal the content of stored e-mail and other electronic communications to law enforcement agencies without requiring a court order but simply "probable cause". Law enforcement agencies also would be allowed to use "trap and trace" electronic surveillance without first having to obtain court orders.

Princeton University has suspended its admissions director following a revelation that his office used information from applicants to break into a Yale University Web site for prospective students. Stephen LeMenager, associate dean of admissions at Princeton said his office was simply checking the security of Yale's Web site. Yale's Web site allowed applicants to log in and check on admissions decisions, using their social security number and birth date to gain access; Princeton was concerned about the vulnerabilities of such a system, LeMenager said.

Ugly

A British company says it has come up with a solution to lost, stolen or frayed school library cards - software that scans and recognises a child's thumbprint. The technology has been adopted by hundreds of British schools, but civil liberties groups and some parents say it dehumanises children and violates their human rights. Micro Librarian Systems calls its IdentiKit system "a revolution in the library" that will cut schools' administrative costs. It says 350 schools have purchased the technology, which stores and recognises children's thumbprints to confirm their identity. The civil liberties group Privacy International says thousands of children are having prints taken without their parents' consent. "This is dangerous, illegal and unnecessary," the group's director, Simon Davies, said. Davies said the technology "has the effect of softening children up for such initiatives as ID cards and DNA testing. It's clearly a case of 'get them while they're young'. They are seen as a soft target for this technology."

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