Would you trade your Social Security number for a pistachio cookie?

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A performance artist recently set up a booth at a New York festival, offering homemade cookies in exchange for visitors’ phone numbers, fingerprints, address, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, driver’s license number, last four digits of their Social Security numbers, and more. More than half of the 380 people willing to trade such personal information for a short-lived treat allowed the artist, Risa Puno, to take their pictures. Nearly half gave out their last four Social Security digits. A third gave up their fingerprints. They also agreed to let Puno share this information with anyone she wants.

In related news: Michelle Malkin detailed in her most recent column how with the expansion of government preschool programs, massive, intrusive, networked data collection systems that amass highly personal information about the littlest tots have been established. For example:

Last spring, parent Lauren Coker discovered that TS Gold assessors in her son’s Aurora, Colo., public preschool had recorded information about his trips to the bathroom, his hand-washing habits, and his ability to pull up his pants.

‘When I asked if we could opt out of the system,’ Coker told me, school officials told her ‘no.’

Currently, there are few restrictions about how government agencies and their often private-sector partners can use information like this once they get it. The Obama administration essentially did a regulatory gutting of federal student privacy law in 2012, so while there’s technically a law on the books known as FERPA, it does little. The information recorded by spies … er, teachers … – such as how long it takes small Mr. Coker to pull up his pants and which classmates he talks to, about what, and for how long – will never be erased and could end up anywhere.

This isn’t a wild accusation. Already states are releasing student records to the public to use in whatever fashion they like. They claim to strip the data of identifying information, but data security experts say such claims are a farce.

It is clear that school districts and government officials view small children in education institutions as a captive audience they are free to mold, inspect, experiment upon, and seize private property from as they desire. It’s clear because that’s what they’re doing. Some may fool themselves into thinking, as the hundreds of supposedly shrewd New Yorkers who handed out the security keys to their bank accounts for sidewalk cookies did, that it doesn’t really matter.

In one respect, they’re right. At worst, a performance artist with your Social Security number is going to hack your financial data or steal your identity and sell it to Russian mobsters. That’s small potatoes compared to what big government could do with your children’s minds and futures once egotistical technocrats feel they have unlocked and dissected kids’ personalities and life paths using an avalanche of intimate information.