[LINK] Smart cards to wire Hong Kong schools
Tue, 14 Aug 2001 08:20:16 -0700
Here is a blurb from CNN about smart cards
Smart cards to wire Hong Kong schools
By CNN's Kristie Lu Stout
In Hong Kong, a popular smart card commands access to subways, cafes,
vending machines, and now schools. And privacy advocates are not amused.
Called Octopus cards, these smart cards emit a signal that talks to an
electronic reader. Just wave your wallet and your account is debited.
The card has crept into the city's daily grind. Millions of Hong Kongers
use it to ride the subway, shop at 7-Eleven stores, and buy drinks from
vending machines and cafes.
But its creator has a far bolder plan.
"Beyond the uses as a payment card, we also want to use the card for access
control," says Creative Star CEO Rob Noble.
"Because every card has its own unique number so you can set that up to
allow specific numbers to go through a door."
This September, almost 1,000 students will be made to use Octopus cards to
clock in and out of school.
The Taoist Association Ching Chung Secondary School will be Hong Kong's
first to use the system.
"At the second stage, we'll extend that into access control into certain
rooms," says Noble.
"Borrowing library books, booking facilities, if you want to book the
basketball court you can with the Octopus card . . . "
And Hong Kong's privacy advocates are concerned.
"The card is a key, but the problem is with the whole database behind it,"
says Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Director Y.K. Law.
Law fears that corporate interests could abuse the information collected
from student cardholders.
"A child may go to school and have to always clock in and clock out and
also go to some of the shops and buy things, but magazines and all their
expenditure habits . . . can be compiled into a whole lifestyle of a person
-- and that's very dangerous," says Law.
School authorities say they are using the Octopus system because they were
invited to. One officer told CNN, "We do not need to pay . . . so it is
worthy to join."
The Education Department maintains it "will give support to schools in
using any facilities which can help enhance the efficiency of the
But perhaps the most authoritative analysis comes from one teenage student:
"How annoying," she says. "I don't think it's a good idea to use it to go
in and out -- it would really control my time."
Creative Star remains unfazed by the criticism that its system has gone too
far. It also denies charges that it would exploit the data collected from
Instead, the company is focusing on the future -- targeting half the
schools in Hong Kong with its card system.