Oct. 10, 2012
The latest story about Texas school children being tagged and tracked with active RFID tracking devices (the passive variety is considered “a little less Big Brotherish.”) has caused some controversy. We are told that this is no big deal, that the RFID tracking simply allows the school to more efficiently do what it already does-take attendance and keep track of students whose safety and well-being is entrusted to the school by parents. But there is much more going on here and the issue deserves to be examined in a broader context.
Here is an excellent article by David Rosen of AlterNet that pulls together a variety of news relating to the tracking and surveillance of students. If you are even slightly uncomfortable about the implementation of these high tech schemes being unleashed on our children, you should read every word of this article which provides some much needed context to the individual stories that trickle down to us from time to time.
These children are the leaders of tomorrow and their experiences at school help serve to fix the values that they will carry with them into adulthood and they are being immersed in an environment saturated with sensors designed to supervise, control and correct them. (Here are some other objections to student RFID tracking)
Rosen’s article covers RFID and GPS tracking, electronic monitoring devices being used on kids to combat obesity in New York, electronic monitoring of calories consumed in school cafeterias, networked CCTV systems that are directly accessible to police and disturbing abuse of student privacy through CCTV cameras, school computers that use cameras to remotely spy on students in their own homes, federal funding of school surveillance and more.
I would like to add one thing to Rosen’s litany; biometric identification such as finger scanning to make lunch lines more efficient
Few parents or children are fully aware of the scope of the tracking and surveillance now going on in American schools. Three simple questions need to be addressed: What is happening to all the personal data captured about the students? How long it is being retained? And are school administrators providing it to law enforcement authorities or commercial vendors?
Here is the AlterNet article.