Texas school uses RFID badges to track student locations

Two San Antonio, Texas schools are requiring students to wear badges with an embedded RFID chip in order to track their locations.

By Christina DesMarais, PC World |  Mobile & Wireless, RFID

One has to assume the schools are interested in actually educating the students, and there's no doubt that education will be more effective if more students are attending class. In addition, if state fiscal support remains high, the district certainly have more resources with which to educate students more effectively. And the Northside website that provides information about the "'Smart' Student ID Cards project" makes a reasonable point. "Our students' parents expect that we always know where their children are in our schools," it says.

First and Fourth Amendment issues

Yet people continue to voice privacy and legal concerns.

In August, several privacy advocacy groups put out a position paper (PDF) which argues that RFID tracking in schools violates students' rights to free speech and association because the technology tracks not only an individual's location, but it can monitor which people congregate together.

The paper also maintains that mandating that students wear RFID chips conditions them to accept a Big Brother world.

"Young people learn about the world and prepare for their futures while in school. Tracking and monitoring them in their development may condition them to accept constant monitoring and tracking of their whereabouts and behaviors. This could usher in a society that accepts this kind of treatment as routine rather than an encroachment of privacy and civil liberties," the paper says.

"Requiring children to wear RFID tags while on school grounds infringes upon their Fourth Amendment right from unreasonable search and seizure, and ... Courts should readopt the probable cause standard as the appropriate standard to be applied to the use of RFID technology in schools," writes Alexander C. Hirsch last year in the Journal of Computer and Information Law at The John Marshall Law School.

Tagging kids isn't new

"Tagging school children with RFID chips is uncommon, but not new," reports Wired. "A federally funded preschool in Richmond, California, began embedding RFID chips in students' clothing in 2010. And an elementary school outside of Sacramento, California, scrubbed a plan in 2005 amid a parental uproar. And a Houston, Texas, school district began using the chips to monitor students on 13 campuses in 2004."


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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